The Secrets of Godzilla

April 18, 2014 11:13 PM

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The Secrets of Godzilla

My artistic career was ended by Godzilla—as a child monster-movie maniac, I stopped attending painting classes when the long-awaited film (the American version, of course, starring Raymond Burr) showed up on Saturday-morning television. So I take the weeklong run of the Burr-free 1954 Japanese-language original, which begins today at Film Forum, personally. I missed the 2004 screenings of the restoration, so this revival is a welcome chance to catch up with it, and the experience is surprising.

The first surprise is that the original version, directed by Ishiro Honda, is not a kids’ movie, not a hectic teen goof, not a grindhouse shocker but a serious drama of politics, romance, and conscience (both civic and intimate). The two versions are offered together in Criterion’s DVD double set, a...

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