The Cultural History of Godzilla – Pt 39


「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)

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第四章 原始怪獣か、原子怪獣か
Chapter 4 Primitive Monsters or Atomic Monsters?

A primitive monster and an atomic monster


“The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” which is said to have been a great inspiration for “Godzilla,” was released in the United States on June 11, 1953. The film was released in Japan on December 22nd, 1954, and there was a gap of one and a half years. Toho’s production side had enough time to know what the movie was about, and that’s why they were able to include different elements.


If you only listen to the central story of a dinosaur waking up from a hydrogen bomb test and threatening a big city that crosses the sea and is defeated by humans, you might feel that the two are the same work. There is a difference. This is partly because Godzilla was intentionally different from the one that followed it, and partly because the standpoints of Japan and the United States, including the outlook on life and the treatment of the hydrogen bomb test that was the cause, are quite different.

日本公開時に『原子怪獣現わる』という邦題となったが、原題は『二万尋から来た獣』だった。尋は約一・八メートルだから、三万六千メートルの深さとなる。現在まで知られているいちばんの深海はマリアナ海溝の一万一千メートル弱なので、地殻のなかに達するほどの到底ありえない深さである。だからこそ太古の地層から蘇るというイメージにふさわしい。第二章で触れたように、「二万」という数字はヴェルヌの系譜の印でもあった。田中プロデューサーによる『ゴジラ』の企画案も、当初は マイル 『海底二万哩から来た大怪獣』という仮題をもっていた。

At the time of its release in Japan, the Japanese title was “Atomic Monster Appears”, but the original title was “The Beast Who Came From Twenty Thousand.” The depth is about 1.8 meters, so the depth is 36,000 meters. The deepest sea known to date is the Mariana Trench, which is less than 11,000 meters deep, which is an impossible depth to reach the earth’s crust. That is why it is suitable for the image of reviving from ancient strata. As mentioned in Chapter 2, the number “20,000” was also a mark of Verne’s genealogy. Producer Tanaka’s “Godzilla” plan originally had the working title of his Mile “The Great Monster Came from 20,000 Miles Under the Sea.”

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The expression “atomic monster” used by the Japanese side at the time of its release was apparently influenced by the advertising phrase “hydrogen bomb giant monster movie” used in the poster for the November 3 release of “Godzilla.” Taking advantage of the popularity of “Godzilla,” he tried to make a Hollywood movie, which is regarded as the original, a hit.

戦後の映画なのに「現わる」という表現をとっているのも印象に残る。タイトルに「現わる」がつ いた映画として、一九四九年に安達伸生監督による『透明人間現わる』があった。犯罪をおこなう透 明人間といった非日常的なものが東京に出現したことを扱っている。H・G・ウェルズの原作小説を たくみにアレンジして、透明人間となって宝石泥棒に加担させられた青年の苦悩の話としている。映 画の終わりに「科学に善悪はありません、ただそれを使う人の心によって、善ともなり、悪ともなる のです」と字幕が出てくる。科学の中立性をうたうのは、原爆をはじめとする科学技術の兵器転用に 対するひとつの答えだろう。

Even though it is a post-war film, the use of the expression “appear” also left an impression on me. The 1949 director Nobuo Adachi’s “Invisible Man Appears” was a film in which he appeared with the word “appear” in the title. It deals with the emergence of extraordinary things in Tokyo, such as invisible men who commit crimes. Based on the original novel by H.G. Wells, he arranged it in his own way to tell the story of the anguish of a young man who becomes invisible and is complicit in a jewel thief. At the end of the film, a caption appears, saying, “There is no good or bad in science, but he can be good or bad depending on the mind of the person who uses it.” Advocating the neutrality of science is one answer to the diversion of science and technology, including the atomic bomb, into weapons.

その後、島耕二監督の『宇宙人東京に現わる』(一九五六年)が出た。岡本太郎の手になる海星に目がひとでついたパイラ星人の造形がカルト的な人気を得ている。彼らは原子力の平和利用を訴えるために被爆 国なので理解があるとやってきたのだが、空飛ぶ円盤騒動となる。日本人学者がウリウムという物質 を発見していて、その恐ろしい力の秘密をめぐる争いもある。 地球に接近してくる原水爆では破壊で きない新天体Rを破壊するのに最終的にその物質が使われる。まさにオキシジェン・デストロイヤーのパターンになっている。

After that, Koji Shima’s “Warning from Space” (1956) came out. Taro Okamoto’s model of Alien Pairans with his eyes on the sea star has gained cult popularity. They came here with understanding because they are a country that has suffered atomic bombings in order to advocate the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Japanese scholars have discovered a substance called urium, and there is a dispute over the secret of its terrifying power. The material is eventually used to destroy the new celestial body R, which cannot be destroyed by an atomic bomb approaching Earth. Exactly the pattern of the Oxygen Destroyer.

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This was inspired by the Hollywood movie “When Worlds Collide” (1951), but special effects such as the scorching earth as a new celestial body approaches and buildings destroyed by floods. The scene is powerful. It can be seen that the depiction of people who evacuate to avoid approaching is also aiming to surpass “Godzilla.” And then, directed by Ishiro Honda’s “Gorath” (1962), in which the stars are approaching the earth, was also a cinematic response to Toho’s “The Alien Appears in Tokyo”, which was competing with Daiei in special effects.


The expression “appearing in Tokyo” later became a staple of the titles of science fiction films. It has been used in films such as Takeshi Miyasaka’s “Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo” (2012), which is set in Fukui Prefecture and where no monsters appear, and Hideaki Anno’s “The Great Monster Appears in Tokyo” (1998). In the first place, the title “Atomic Monster (New York) Appears” [The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms] was probably created by understanding “Godzilla” as “Godzilla Appears in Tokyo.” As evidence of this, Kayama’s original novel was republished under the title “Godzilla Appears in Tokyo.” “Appear” is a title that was born in the context of Japan and has had an impact since then. Moreover, the fact that it became an “atomic monster” instead of Godzilla’s “hydrogen bomb monster” is not only a sense of opposition to Godzilla, but also clearly based on the “original.” The fictional dinosaur Ridosaurus plays an active role in this movie.


Looking at Godzilla from that perspective, while it is an outdated “primitive monster”, a dinosaur from the Jurassic period, on the other hand, it has two sides: an “atomic monster” that has been given a radioactive factor by hydrogen bomb experiments, which are the most advanced weapon experiments. The Japanese title of this Hollywood movie, on the other hand, reveals the characteristics of Godzilla and the differences from Rydosaurus. In this chapter, we will deal with the aspect of Godzilla, a primitive monster and an atomic monster, along with a comparison with “Atomic Monster Appears” [The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms].