The Story of Godzilla’s Birth – Pt 18


The Story of Godzilla's Birth
「ゴジラ誕生語」The Story of Godzilla's Birth by Osamu Yamaguchi

P 40



Two Godzillas


The production of “Godzilla” was always accompanied by unimaginable hardships. It is not only the modeling of Teizo Toshimitsu.


Tsuburaya was strongly influenced by “King Kong,” which was filmed in stop motion. “Stop-motion animation” is also called “stop-motion animation,” and it is a technique of filming moving images such as dolls moving one frame at a time. Tsuburaya, who wanted to make a movie like that someday himself, was particular about time-lapse filming of “Godzilla” using puppets.


“I want to shoot time-lapse, just like in King Kong.”


Tsuburaya can’t get the “King Kong” he saw a long time ago out of his head. However, frame-by-frame shooting takes a lot of time. It was an unreasonable wish in the current situation with time constraints. Tsuburaya was well aware of that. He told Haruo Nakajima, who later became a Godzilla suit actor (actor who wears a costume), “If we do the same time-lapse filming as King Kong, it will take seven years.”


Not only in terms of time, but also in terms of technology, Japan is still far behind the United States. “If time-lapse photography is absolutely useless, how about a marionette?”


Tsuburaya couldn’t give up, but time was running out. He was worried that it would look cheap, but for Godzilla he had no choice but to go with a costume (known as a “stuffed toy” in the kabuki and movie worlds).

P 41


However, it was Tsuburaya tokusatsu’s creative method that did not exist in Western films, and it was this costumed performance.


The American movie “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” which was released in Japan around the same time as “Godzilla,” is a stop-motion animation, that is, a movie shot in stop motion. With this method, it is certainly possible to express the feeling of an animal moving about. However, power does not come out to a destruction scene.


You don’t need realistic animalism to depict the horror of nuclear weapons. More than that, Godzilla must be a “terrifying existence.” Godzilla in a heavy costume, accompanied by the effect of high-speed shooting (slow motion), brought overwhelming power and intimidation to the screen.


The sculpting staff immediately started working on the costume. Toshimitsu, the brothers Yasuei Yagi and Kanju Yagi, Eizo Kaimai, and Yoshio Suzuki, a part-time worker, worked through trial and error to create the film.


Godzilla’s skin was made by applying crude rubber to the inside of a gypsum mold taken from a clay prototype and baking it with electric heat in a custom-made oven. Then, the texture of the crocodile skin came out well. On the other hand, a thick wire frame reinforced with bamboo was covered with wire netting, paper and cloth were pasted on it to create a papier-mâché-like mold, and raw rubber skin was pasted on it. It is said that a cloth bag stuffed with cotton was sewn inside. This was a showcase of the skills of the Yagi brothers, who were former chrysanthemum doll craftsmen. “Oh, it’s pretty good, isn’t it?”


One of the staff members went inside. But I can barely move. “You can’t do that. It’s too stiff and you can’t really move.”