The Cultural History of Godzilla – Pt 34


「ゴジラの精神史」The Cultural History of Godzilla 1954 by Shuntaro Ono (2014)
「ゴジラの精神史」The Cultural History of Godzilla 1954 by Shuntaro Ono (2014)

P 86

Weapons developed in secret


The destruction of Godzilla, especially the fire that spewed out of his mouth, which is said to be a radioactive flame, was not only caused by incendiary bombs dropped in air raids to efficiently destroy wooden houses, but also during the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Battle of Okinawa during the Pacific War. Reminds me of a used flamethrower. For example, the scene in which the patrol car, which the police were listening to the evacuation order over the radio, is completely burned by the flames spewed by Godzilla, who suddenly destroyed the building, is impressive.


It was the “Oxygen Destroyer” that Dr. Serizawa had developed in secret that defeated Godzilla, who burned and destroyed the city in this way. Dr. Serizawa, who specialized in chemistry and was trying to thoroughly master the properties of oxygen, accidentally discovered in the course of his research that it was a device that maximizes the ability to take away oxygen in water. This can be regarded as a kind of “MacGuffin” that the film director Hitchcock mentioned here and there. It’s a device that captures the audience’s interest and immerses them in suspense. Hagiwara, a newspaper reporter, sniffs out the existence and tries to find out, but Dr. Serizawa flatly denies it. The important thing is that Dr. Serizawa reveals his secret only to Emiko. Of course, it is an act of trying to shorten the psychological distance by sharing secrets. But Emiko can’t stand sharing this anguish, and when she shares it with her lover Ogata, her secret weapon comes to light. It is important that the “Oxygen Destroyer” has the evil charm of a “devil’s invention.” Dr. Serizawa hopes for peaceful use, but depriving oxygen is a force that cuts off vitality, so it seems that it is not used very effectively.

P 87


Dr. Serizawa has a secret that cannot be told to others, which can be seen from the black eye patch on his face. He may be hiding scars underneath, but heroes have physical scars based on epic classics. Moreover, in visual representations of culture, a person wearing an eyepatch or a monocle with one pair of glasses is used as a symbol to represent a character with unusual abilities.


In fact, there remains a still photograph of a scene in which Dr. Serizawa and Emiko were playing when they were young. This scene was not used in the movie, so no film remains, but of course Dr. Serizawa, who is “like an older brother,” is neither wearing a white coat nor wearing an eye patch. Ogata’s line, “If it hadn’t been for the war, I wouldn’t have been hurt so badly.” However, Dr. Serizawa hides various anguish and depression under his black eyepatch, including his feelings for Emiko, the secrets of his terrifying inventions, and himself as outdated in post-war Japan. In particular, when Ogata and the others persuaded him to use it as Godzilla’s weapon of destruction, he began to burn the materials without saying a word.


Norihiro Kato considers Godzilla to be the “objective correlate” of heroic spirits (“Goodbye, Godzilla and the others”), originally intended to describe the relationship between Hamlet and his father’s ghost. If so, it can be said that Godzilla is an objective correlate of Dr. Serizawa, a modern-day Hamlet who could not avoid becoming a hero. As proof that Hamlet was associated with revenge, Shigeru Kayama said, “Should I use it or should I not use it?” Dr. Serizawa’s line is even written into the “G work review script.” All elements, such as Godzilla’s ugliness, strength, antiquatedness, pitifulness, and melancholy, are deeply connected to Dr. Serizawa.

P 88


However, Dr. Serizawa is not a complete recluse. He watches Godzilla go on a rampage on a television set in his laboratory. However, despite the hustle and bustle of the earth, he is the only one who stays in the dark of the laboratory without taking refuge. He sees ghosts from the past emerging from the depths of the sea destroying the world for him. What happens when Oxygen Destroyer is used on the ground is directly related to Godzilla’s destruction itself. Dr. Serizawa, the modern “mad scientist” or “doctor” of course, that lineage includes Captain Nemo from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.


After Godzilla knocked down the TV tower, he turned around in the moat and returned to the sea, like a tsunami that rushed in, but what about the interpretation that Dr. Serizawa was there? Godzilla confirmed the existence of Dr. Serizawa and returned. Because Dr. Serizawa came out of the underground laboratory once. That is the scene where the patrol ship Shikine comes to see off the departure for Odo Island. This is an act that is one step closer to Godzilla. In return, Godzilla landed twice and approached Dr. Serizawa. He shook his head left and right as if looking for something, confirming his presence. The next reason Dr. Serizawa approaches Godzilla was to get down into the sea from the patrol ship Shikine, which he had not boarded before, and attack it. Those of the same nature rebel against each other in kinship hatred, or explode in a chain reaction like a nuclear bomb. So what was Dr. Serizawa secretly inventing in his underground laboratory to rival Godzilla?