Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy 60th Birthday, Godzilla

Posted By on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Gojira_1954_Japanese_poster.jpg

Today's the 60th anniversary of the release of the first Godzilla movie in Japan, a film which ended up kicking of a series of 28 cinema classics by the Toho company, including 1965's Invasion of Astro-Monster, 1992's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II and 2001's Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. While let's all agree to pretend that the 1998 American reboot starring Matthew Broderick didn't happen, critics and audiences seemed to enjoy the 2014 version, although our reviewer, Colin Boyd, wasn't crazy about it.

In honor of the anniversary, the Wall Street Journal has a fun article looking back at the creation of the monster that would destroy Japan, fight other monsters and eventually take on San Francisco earlier this year:

Before signing with Toho Studios, Mr. Kaimai made a living creating life-size dolls, including those used in haunted houses in theme parks. Godzilla was his first job collaborating with a film actor. On his first day, he says, he was presented with a miniature clay model of what the beast might look like and told to get to work.

The exterior of Godzilla’s body was manufactured with rubber material. For its feet, the team came up with the idea of remodeling rubber boots. World War II had ended just nine years earlier and the only place such gear was available at the time was the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Mr. Kaimai says.

Directors, designers, actors and producers all came up with requests and their ideas on what the beast should look like. Mr. Kaimai would add or reduce bumps on Godzilla’s skin.

“It wasn’t a fun process, to be honest. Everything was done on a trial-and-error basis,” Mr. Kaimai says. The finished prototype was a failure as well. “I knew the moment we were done, the first Godzilla suit had failed. The joints were too stiff and no one could move in it,” he says. “Plus, it weighed 100 kilograms [220 pounds].”

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