SciFi Japan


    The original GODZILLA roars back to life in the new GOJIRA Region 1 DVD set from Classic Media. © 1954 Toho Co., Ltd.

    Classic Media Releases the Original GODZILLA in a Deluxe Edition on DVD Author: John "Dutch" DeSentis Source: Classic Media Official site: Godzilla on DVD Special Thanks to Aaron Cooper and James Ballard September 5th, 2006 is a date that should forever be important to Godzilla fans as the day that the original, unaltered, post-war masterpiece GOJIRA was finally and officially released on DVD in North America. After years of hoping and clamoring, fans finally get their wish and much to our satisfaction the film is given an incredibly packaged and dignified release. Dignity is a word not often associated with the Godzilla series. For years the character has been lambasted and the subject of ridicule almost directly brought on by the childlike movies of the 1970s. Certainly, most Godzilla fans have similar stories of mentioning the monster`s name to non-fans and being met with rolling eyes and peculiar looks. One shining beacon in the Godzilla series has always been the movie that started them all. Aside from a few select screenings and imported Japanese laserdiscs, the film had gone largely unseen by the Western audience until 2004 when Rialto Pictures released the original version to theaters and art houses around the country. Met with critical acclaim, word spread fast on how vastly different and profound Ishiro Honda`s GOJIRA is from the Terry Morse directed American version, GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS Now thanks to Classic Media, fans and the general audience alike everywhere can see the movie in all its foreboding glory.

    Out with the old and in with the new. The lackluster 2002 Classic Media release has been replaced by the incredibly improved 2006 DVD set. Photo courtesy of Classic Media. © 1954, 1956 Toho Co., Ltd.

    When it was initially announced that Classic Media held the U.S. rights to the Japanese version as well as the American version, fans took the news with a bit of trepidation. Rightfully so considering the lackluster releases of the first round of Classic Media Godzilla movies back in 2002. All that began to change however when the company expressed an interest in not only improving the picture quality of the films, but also going the extra mile and adding extras like trailers, commentaries, and disc featurettes. They enlisted the services of several noted Godzilla experts with proven track records such as Steve Ryfle; author of Japan`s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of Godzilla and Ed Godziszewski; long time publisher of Japanese Giants and author of The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Godzilla. The end result is a product vastly superior to not only Classic Media`s original releases, but any other Godzilla DVD release. Utilizing a brand spanking newly remastered print and a few qualified individuals, Classic Media has made up for the releases of the past and then some. While it is often lumped in with any other 1950`s B-movie, GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS is nonetheless a great step above most other science fiction fare of the time. The combination of Raymond Burr`s straightforward performance and the preservation of many moments of Japanese dialog help to maintain the film`s documentary style. While enjoyable, the American version pales in comparison to Ishiro Honda`s dark and grim tale about the dangers of human folly. Viewers in the West cannot possibly understand the extent of Honda`s personal wartime experience that is latently spread out through the drama of the movie.

    The GOJIRA set comes in a well executed package that includes a bellyband describing the contents of the two DVDs, plus a 16-page booklet. © 1954, 1956 Toho Co., Ltd.

    No doubt that his firsthand witness of the destruction of Hiroshima upon his return to Japan after the end of the war contributed heavily to the look and ominous atmosphere of the film. Indeed, it`s hard to find another monster movie of the time and even in the years after that so graphically depicted the human suffering and casualties of radiation. Honda goes to great lengths to show that it`s the children who suffer the most in the aftermath of Godzilla`s attack. Many of them are orphaned much in the same way children were orphaned by the atomic bombs that ended the war. While such symbolism had been toned down in the Burr version, it is plainly and explicitly depicted in the original version. Along with Eiji Tsuburaya`s expert special effects and Akira Ifukube`s haunting score, the movie has endured the test of time and gone down as one of the greatest monster movies of all time. Thanks to this great release, everyone gets to see what we the fans have been trying to say for many years: Godzilla hasn`t always been for the kids. THE PACKAGING The first thing once notices when buying the set is the incredible packaging and box art. Most recent Godzilla DVD releases have suffered from having very lackluster and oftentimes cheesy packaging art. This release presents us with very enjoyable and most of all RESPECTABLE box art. The frontal image is very straightforward; an image of Godzilla standing waist deep in the water. The red text GOJIRA stands out against the grayscale tones. The Japanese characters for "GOJIRA" and "KAIJU O" (translated as King of the Monsters) adorn the sky over the 1954 suit. At the bottom of the picture is the Toho logo along with "THE ORIGINAL JAPANESE MASTERPIECE". Never has Godzilla seen such classy packaging. The only minor complaint with this is that it would have been a better decision to show Godzilla, perhaps standing in Tokyo as that is the meat of the movie. However, that is only a minor suggestion. Another nice touch is the bellyband which highlights the features. The DVD case itself is a nice departure from the normal clamshell and is in a book style case that snaps shut. Inside, the two versions of the film occupy each section on their respective DVDs. Finally, the set contains a great sixteen page booklet with liner notes written by Steve Ryfle.

    Comparing the image quality from three different DVD releases of GOJIRA/ GODZILLA. From top to bottom: The Japanese Region 2 disc from Toho, the UK R2 PAL DVD from the British Film Institute, and the American R1 DVD from Classic Media. © 1954 Toho Co., Ltd.

    PICTURE QUALITY If you read some reviews, you might see people complaining about picture quality. The fact of the matter is this: the film is old and dust and scratches are something to be expected, especially from an era in which Japan didn`t pay as much attention to taking care of their negatives as they did for later films. That said, this is the best that the original GODZILLA has EVER looked. The DVD transfer quality is superb. One will begin to notice little details not noticed before (such as Godzilla`s eyes appearing to move in certain scenes). It is easily on par if not better than Toho`s region 2 DVD release. The American version also fares well with a noticeably cleaner print. The only time it doesn`t fare well is a point that is completely forgivable; the end credits! Yes, on this DVD fans finally get to see the rare end credit sequence that was shown in 1956 but missing from every previous video release. The sequence was grabbed from a print that belonged to Ed Godziszewski. While it is pretty dirty and the sound sub par, one cannot hold anything against it as it is an extra bone thrown to the fans. How great it is to see something like that! DVD SPECIAL FEATURES Both versions of the movie feature great commentaries by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski. Between the two of them, there really is no fact that goes unmentioned. Some out there might be inclined to think that they know everything there is to know about the 1954 movie, but thanks to the extremely well done commentaries there is a generous helping of facts and interesting info that has probably gone unsaid before. The American version commentary features several really interesting bits recorded by Steve Ryfle when he was researching his book. Among the sound bytes heard are Edmund Goldman and Paul Schriebman, two men who figured prominently into the mix of bringing the movie to America. Terry Morse Jr. also joins in on the commentary during Godzilla`s rampage and has much to say about his father and his own work on the film. The only factual error in the commentary was in the Japanese version. It was said that the scene with the mother and her children huddling in the alleyway was deleted from GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS, but in fact it was in the American version albeit un-translated. As for the featurettes themselves, they are very well done. Produced by Ed Godziszewski and edited by Bill Gudmundson, the two featurettes delve into the story evolution and suit design and development. There are many rare stills to enjoy while listening to the narration. It would have been very cool to see a featurette on composer Akira Ifukube especially considering his gigantic contributions to the movie that go beyond simply scoring it. Even a translation of the interview with him on the Toho region 2 would have been a great inclusion. Still, it is very hard to complain given that there will be an Akira Ifukube featurette on the upcoming MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA DVD. In fact, it is hard to complain about anything on this disc since it is so well done in the first place. Also included are theatrical trailers for each film. The trailer included for GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS is actually not the one that most of us have seen before. It is slightly different with the same fast, sensational narration as the more common one. The DVD menus are also very noteworthy. Each section of the DVD is spread across various posters, lobby cards, and stills from each feature and when you select a feature it pans across the display. Very nicely done.

    More image comparisons. From l to r: The BFI disc, the Australian Region 4 DVD from Madman, and the new Classic Media DVD. © 1954 Toho Co., Ltd.

    This year saw not only one but TWO great special edition releases of GOJIRA. Earlier in the year, the British Film Institute released a great disc of the film on DVD. It contained audio commentaries by Steve and Ed (plus Keith Aiken) as well as essentially the same two featurettes. The BFI disc benefits from the inclusion of a British newsreel called "The Japanese Fishermen" and also includes a bonus gallery of photos, posters, and stills. As far as content goes, the BFI disc does have the new one beat. HOWEVER, that should not deter one from buying the Classic Media disc for the BFI disc is also a region 2 PAL disc. The fact that the Classic Media disc contains both a rare trailer and end credits for the American version is such a plus that it almost says "checkmate" to the BFI set. So in reality, both discs are indispensable and are must haves. They each contain elements not found on the other and are two great discs to celebrate over. The bottom line is this: Classic Media did an excellent job with their DVD. They fulfilled their promise to the fans to improve on their former discs, they went the extra mile for the special features, and they gave Godzilla fans a presentation to be proud of. Anyone who considers themselves a fan of Godzilla should not be without this disc. The definitive version of GOJIRA has finally hit our shores and in a big way. If this is any indication as to the quality of the upcoming Godzilla releases on the Classic Media slate, it`s going to be a joyous time indeed for Godzilla fans. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ GODZILLA IN THE NEWS The DVD release of GOJIRA has prompted a flurry of Godzilla coverage online, in magazines and newspapers, and on television and radio. TV coverage included ABC WORLD NEWS NOW, ATTACK OF THE SHOW! on G4TV, NBC 6`s TEXAS TODAY, FOX NEWS FIRST EARLY EDITION, and REEL TALK on WNBC. Godzilla also made the news and reviews at...

    Akihiko Hirata stars as the mysterious and tragic Dr Serizawa. © 1954 Toho Co., Ltd.

    USA TODAY: Godzilla arouses atomic terror WB11 MORNING NEWS: CM’s Godzilla expert Steve Ryfle appeared as a guest to discuss the “Gojira” DVD release THE TOLEDO BLADE: Godzilla roared in a somber world SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Godzilla’s Revenge – the real reptile is back in town UGO: Gojira - Godzilla Deluxe Collector`s Edition DVD MUSKEGAN CHRONICLE: ‘Godzilla’, ’Gojira’ let’s call them both great films DVD REVIEW: Gojira (1954) JACKSON CLARION LEDGER: Original Godzilla makes U.S. DVD debut NEW YORK TIMES: Godzilla Review AUSTIN 360: From Japan, 2 takes on tragedy`s aftermath SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE: Two famous Japanese films are released on DVD WASHINGTON POST: This Week WORLDSCREEN: Classic Media Offers Up Original Godzilla GAME VORTEX: Gojira (Godzilla) RIVERFRONT TIMES: Gojira (Toho) DVD TOWN: Gojira

    Hagiwara (Sachio Sakai), Dr Yamane (Takashi Shimura), and Shinkichi (Toshiaki Suzuki) are about to come face-to-face with Godzilla. © 1954 Toho Co., Ltd.

    BLOGCRITICS: DVD Pick of the Week: Gojira FANGORIA: Ghastly Review – Gojira (Classic Media) Exclusive Interview: Steve Ryfle WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL: Out on Video: The original Godzilla and a remake burn onto DVD NORTH KOREA TIMES: Initial Japanese `Godzilla` due out on DVD DVD VERDICT: Gojira: The Original Japanese Masterpiece THE COURIER-JOURNAL: Monsters, samurai star in DVD lineup THE TRADES: Godzilla - Gojira Deluxe Collector`s Edition (2 DVD set) SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Disc Pick CINESCAPE: Godzilla DVD TALK: Godzilla - Gojira Deluxe Collector`s Edition - The Official U.S. & Japanese film Versions BOSTON GLOBE: DVD Report THE STAR TRIBUNE: DVDs: Made in Japan CINEMA LASER: Gojira WALTON TRIBUNE: Professing love for Godzilla movies _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    © 1954 Toho Co., Ltd.

    FREE COLLEGE SCREENINGS OF GOJIRA Look for free screenings of Classic Media`s GOJIRA at the following universities across the United States. You do not need to be a student at any of the schools that are hosting screenings to attend. ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY September 12, 2006 8:00PM ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus, in the Residential Commons Arizona Ballroom 401 North 1st Street Phoenix, AZ 85004 UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA September 13, 2006 8:00PM 40 Watt Club 285 W. Washington St. Athens, GA 30601 UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA September 13, 2006 8:00PM Key West Ballroom, Section C Student Union Building Central Florida Blvd Orlando, FL 32816 UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, TWIN CITIES September 20, 2006 7:00PM Coffman Memorial Union, Mississippi Room 300 Washington Ave. S.E. Minneapolis, MN 55455-0110 NEW YORK UNIVERSITY September 20, 2006 7:00PM Cantor Film Center, Theater 102 36 E. Eighth St. New York, NY FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY September 20, 2006 3:00PM Grahm Center 140 11200 Southwest 8th St. Miami, FL 33199 BOSTON UNIVERSITY September 20, 2006 7:00PM George Sherman Union, BU Central 775 Commonwealth Ave. Boston, MA 02215 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, ANN ARBOR September 20, 2006 7:00PM Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity House 1205 Hill Street Ann Arbor, MI 48104 UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON September 20, 2006 7:00PM Rosebud Theater, University Center 300 W. 1st St. Arlington, TX 76010 RUTGERS UNIVERSITY September 20, 2006 6:00PM Busch Campus Center, Room 120 604 Bartholomew Rd. Piscataway, NJ 08854-8002 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKLEY September 20, 2006 7:00PM Kip`s 2439 Durant Avenue Berkeley, CA 94704 BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY September 20, 2006 Location/Time TBD INDIANA UNIVERSITY, BLOOMINGTON September 20, 2006 7:00PM Dogwood Room, Indiana Memorial Union 900 E. 7th Street Bloomington, IN 47405 UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK September 20, 2006 St. Mary`s Hall Multipurpose Room Campus Drive College Park, MD 20742 SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY September 20, 2006 7:00PM Montezuma Hall, Aztec Center SDSU San Diego, CA 92182 UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON September 20, 2006 7:00PM Pacific, University Center 4800 Calhoun Houston, TX 77004 UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER September 26, 2006 7:00PM University Memorial Center, Room 235 1669 Euclid Street Boulder, CO 80309 UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO September 27, 2006 Location/Time TBD TEMPLE UNIVERSITY September 27, 2006 6:00PM Student Faculty Center - HSC 4th Floor Auditorium 3340 N. Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19140 UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON October 4, 2006 Location/Time TBD UNIVERISTY OF CALIFORNIA, LA - UCLA October 11, 2006 7:00PM Bradley Hall, Salon 1 417 Charles E. Young Drive West Los Angeles, CA 90095-137 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS October 11, 2006 Location/Time TBD

    © 2024 Your Company. All Rights Reserved. Designed By JoomShaper