For our first ever BCM320 Seminar, we strapped in to experience the cultural phenomenon that is Gojira, more widely known as the original Godzilla film. As a class we were told to live-tweet the experience, which I’ll admit, was a bit of a struggle considering we also had to pay attention to the subtitles. It turned out to be pretty much what I expected; almost 2 hours of dated, albeit entertaining, special effects and sound design. However, through reading other people’s comments on the film, as well as researching the film itself, the seminar turned out to be way more of a history lesson than I was prepared for.
When it comes to my cultural background, I’m about as Australian as it gets. I haven’t explored ancestry.com but my understanding is that my family came from Europe way back when and have resided here ever since. I have travelled to several countries, however, the only country I’ve had the opportunity to truly immerse myself in is the American culture, as I was there for a year. Even though America is very different to Australia, they’re not exactly polar opposites. And while I have many friends from various different backgrounds, I have never truly had an understanding of what it’s like to experience another culture.
My experiences with Asian media as a whole are limited to occasionally watching a show on Crunchyroll, listening to a k-pop song, or playing some sort of Nintendo game console. So, while I knew that Godzilla was a cultural phenomenon due to the thousands of references in pop-culture, I wasn’t fully aware of its origins and historical context.
Gojira was released in 1954, 9 years following the nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The creature, Gojira, is a mutation as a result of nuclear tests, therefore is a blatant symbol of the impact of nuclear radiation on the country. In the final moments of the film, one of the main characters explicitly states that more of these creatures would appear if the nuclear tests were to continue; this essentially acts as a PSA to the audiences of the film. It could not be more obvious that this film is a direct result of the terror and shock that was felt throughout the nation of Japan.
Therefore, even though my initial reaction to the film was humour and confusion due to the absurdity of the film, I left the experience with chills and thoughts that are still plaguing me days later