The Cultural History of Godzilla – Pt 45


「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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The Men Who Created the Atomic Monster


“The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” which is the original of “Atomic Monster Appears,” is a short story by Ray Bradbury. The rights to the title were bought by a movie company, so the title is now changed to “Foghorn.” Bradbury came up with the idea while he was living in Venice Beach, a suburb of Los Angeles. It all started with the illusion that the sound of the wind blowing through the abandoned roller coaster was like the voice of a dinosaur.

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Mistaking the foghorn for the voices of his companions, he quickly completed the story of an ancient dinosaur coming from the depths of the sea and attacking the lighthouse. So, Harryhausen’s idea for the end of the movie is a roller coaster ride at Coney Island’s amusement park, which is an excellent return to the origin of the story.


Bradbury and Harryhausen, known as the two Rays, are old sci-fi comrades and they teamed up for the film. Harryhausen became the de facto sole apprentice of Willis O’Brien, who played an active part in “The Lost World” and “King Kong.” It was a technique of moving a model monster frame by frame and shooting. As a result of this, he will be active in 16 special effects movies after that. In “It Came from Beneath the Sea” (1955), a large octopus that appeared in a hydrogen bomb test is rampant. And in “20 Million Miles to Earth” (1957), he created a scene in which the giant Venusian creatures rampage through the city of Rome. On the other hand, he was also proficient in demonic and monstrous movements in fantastical stories such as those of Sinbad.


However, Harryhausen is only in charge of special effects for three-dimensional animation, which is half of the movie. It was director Eugene Lowry who recruited Harryhausen for the film. When considering the relationship between Japanese and American tokusatsu films, we cannot forget the existence of Raleigh. Laurie has worked as art director on Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, Chaplin’s “Limelight,” and the war film “The Battle of the Bulge.”


In response to an Oral History project by the Directors Guild of America, the detailed behind-the-scenes stories for each film were published in a book called My Work in Cinema (1985).

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In it, he talks about his ingenuity as an art director, a special effects director, and even a director of a work. Harryhausen’s stop-motion craftsmanship tends to attract attention in “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” but it was Director Laurie who was able to complete the live-action scene in about two weeks with a low budget that could not be reshot. He made miniatures for special effects, and demonstrated skillful calculations such as aligning the direction of the light source for compositing with live action. He proudly states that Jean Renoir saw the finished work with him and admired it.


After that, Laurie not only appeared in “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” but also in “The Giants of New York” (1958), in which robots with transplanted brains repeatedly slaughter, and in “The Giant Behemoth,” which begins with images of nuclear tests and monsters attacking London. He has directed a series of giants and monster movies such as “Gorgo” (1961). In “The Giant Behemoth,” a dinosaur that has been altered by radiation from a nuclear test kills people by causing radioactive burns through the power of a “biological chain reaction” that it spews from its mouth. Capsize a ferry or go on a rampage through the streets of London. Willis O’Brien of “King Kong” was involved in the special effects for this work.In the case of Laurie, the dinosaurs are the type that move on all four legs, which is different from Godzilla.


Laurie was also the art director for the Japanese-American co-production “Flight from Ashiya” (1964) with Daiei. He put neon lights on the streets of Daiei Kyoto Studio to make it look like the city of Tokyo, built an aircraft for filming the inside of Grumman, and was in charge of the blueprints that were the basis for miniature sets. He recalls working quite hard. The special effects of the scene in which an airplane crash-landed in a snowy field in a miniature set drawn by Raleigh was successfully realized by the Japanese side. became.

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In “The Giant Behemoth,” even though he killed the monster that was rampant in London, there is a punchline that other individuals appear in Maine and Florida in the United States. He learned from the pattern of “Godzilla” that there are other individuals even if you defeat one. In addition, “Gorgo” was originally a project called “Kurushima” (Kurushima?) set in Japan, but there was talk of a tie-up with a Japanese film company, so the stage was moved to Ireland as it is now. This was a reply to his daughter who protested against the murder of the Rydosaurus, which was nothing wrong in “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.” Raleigh describes the final voice of Rydosaurus as being like an opera tenor. It seems that it is common to “Godzilla” that there are people who empathize with the dinosaur being killed. Special effects films were made under directors who felt the need for art like Raleigh, and efforts were made to integrate the special effects and the main part.