King Kong vs. Godzilla was the first Godzilla movie in color. The quality of cinematography and framing scenes is evident. This movie would shape all the movies that would follow. King Kong vs. Godzilla marks the first movie employing camp and comics. Mr. Tako, head of the pharmaceutical company, provided physical comedy and comic relief throughout.
Godzilla is awaking from an iceberg when a US submarine collides into it. Again the story plot suggests Godzilla is result of irresponsible human behavior and violence. Godzilla first smashes a military base smashing facilities with his tail and setting the base on fire.
Kong resides on Faro Island where a team is sent to bring him back by the pharmaceutical company who will sponsor him as a mascot of sorts. Kong will be used to fight Godzilla. Kong is put to sleep and transported upon a raft. There is a polemic against corporations that exploit scapegoats such as marginalized people, animals, and the earth’s resources for profit and assessment of power and wealth.
In their first encounter, Godzilla has the high ground so Kong is at a disadvantage. Godzilla applies his fire to repel Kong who is perplexed by the fire. Kong retreats leaving a jubilant Godzilla behind.
After taking a seat on the Diet Building in Tokyo, Kong is airlifted and dropped down on Godzilla roaming Mt. Fuji. Godzilla’s advantage is flipped on its head when a thunderstorm breaks out and lighting strikes Kong energizing and empowering him. (Note: In future films, Godzilla would likewise be energized by the power of the storm.) Kong’s power would ward off Godzilla and put him on a defensive footing.
For many years, there was the rumor among Godzilla fans that there were two endings, one for American audiences and the other for the Japanese. But that was a myth. There is one ending. Both monsters take it to the other and the third installation in the Godzilla movies of the Showa era ends in a draw. The battle ends at Atami Castle (a resort town about two hours from Tokyo) situated on a cliff high above the sea. Godzilla has his back against the cliff and Kong carries him over. Both fall into the sea. Although King Kong emerges from the sea swimming into the sunset, and earthquake ensues followed by Godzilla’s roar as the movie closes. Godzilla survives to fight another day.
This Godzilla movie has memorable scenes of Godzilla stomping through the Japanese military and destroying a train. The fight scenes are unique with a lot of personality between the two monsters. Godzilla is just a big bully. Kong is thoughtful and strategic.
Godzilla’s suit is memorable among all his films. This style and look would never be reused. It is quite distinctive and bulky. His nose is stout and dorsal spikes were defined. Kong’s appearance leaves you wanting a better suit design. But it was the 1960s and there were limitations unlike today’s advanced computer animation.
The natives on Faro Island are of particular interest to me because of their identity, ethnicity, and portrayal. My interest in René Girard’s theory of the scapegoat made me notice that chaos brought out on the island after the foreigners appeared on the island and began passing out cigarettes, particularly to woman and a child. Kong would represent a scapegoat victim that is both a terror and a god to the people who offer it worship. They sooth the savage beast in song with drums, drink, and choreographed dance.
King Kong vs Godzilla is a battle between the favorite monsters from the East and the West. Overall the film is entertaining. Nevertheless, Godzilla lives and is still the King in the end.