Up from the depths, thirty stories high, breathing fire, his head in the sky…so goes one way of describing one of the most recognizable and iconic creatures ever shown in motion picture history. After “King Kong” but before the T-Rex in “Jurassic Park”, Japanese studio Toho created a giant bipedal lizard with atomic breath: “Godzilla”. Their allegorical cautionary tale on the horrors of nuclear war in 1954 gave rise to a multimedia franchise that even has adaptations in the West. But at home Godzilla continues to reign as King of the Monsters, even as it celebrates 64 years in film.
Godzilla fanatics in Japan are getting ready to celebrate this coming November 3, the release of the first film featuring the titular “kaiju” and is designated as its birthday. This year it is also the date, according to The Hollywood Reporter, for the closing of the 2018 Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF). And it seems rather fortuitous that among the final features to be screened at the occasion on that day, is the latest Japanese “Godzilla” film production. This is the animated film “Godzilla: The Planet Eater” from Toho Animation and Polygon Pictures, the conclusion of a Netflix-exclusive movie trilogy.
The 2018 TIFF started in grand form on Thursday, October 25 at the Hibiya Midtown in Tokyo, long a favored (literal) stomping ground of Godzilla. Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita, co-directors of the franchise’s most current Japanese installment were among those who walked the red carpet on opening night, accompanied by two voice actors from “The Planet Eater” as well as a retro throwback in the “person” of a stunt performer in a rubber Godzilla suit. At the same time and venue, the country’s annual Godzilla fandom event, Godzilla Fes 2018, is also drawing the crowds with its extensive exhibit of old Godzilla costumes, panels with decades’ worth of producers and actors, and plentiful merchandise.
“Godzilla” premiered in 1954, less than 10 years after the actual atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, earning great success from an audience that still freshly remembered the horror of nuclear destruction, manifested in the nuclear-mutated giant lizard. Close to 64 years later, that franchise runs 31 Japanese movies and 3 from Hollywood. The latest of these, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” from Legendary Pictures, will premiere on May 31 next year. A number of TV productions including animated series were also released years before.
Final showings for the 2018 Tokyo International Film Festival, including “Godzilla: The Planet Eater”, will be done in November 3 at the Tokyo International Forum. The directors and voice cast will also be in attendance.
Images: Comicbook.com, Den of Geek