Godzilla/Fun Facts

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Godzilla
  • The idea for Gojira (aka Godzilla) was spawned after producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was forced to cancel a planned Japan-Indonesia co-production called Eiko kage-ni (Behind the Glory). The story was inspired by a real-life nuclear accident in which a Japanese fishing boat ventured too close to an American nuclear test and was contaminated.
  • Special Effects artist Eiji Tsuburaya originally wanted Godzilla to be a giant octopus. He would later get his wish of having one though in the movies "King Kong vs Godzilla", a deleted scene in "Baragon vs Frankenstein", and "War of the Gargantuas", where the octopus would meet his end. It was even given the name Oodako. The octopus also made an appearance in the TV series "Ultra Q", and was up for consideration to be a monster Godzilla vanquishes for the most recent Godzilla film, "Godzilla: Final Wars".
  • Eiji Tsuburaya, the film's special effects director, originally envisioned Godzilla (Gojira) as a giant octopus before settling for a more dinosaur-like creature.
  • The name Gojira is a combination of the Japanese words for gorilla (gorira) and whale (kujira). The monster was so named because his original design was that of a gorilla-whale monster, which is recounted by people who worked on the film. After producer Tanaka saw the American monster film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), he got the idea to turn Godzilla into a dinosaur monster. Despite the physical change the name of the monster was kept. There has always been a legend that Godzilla was named after a hulking man nicknamed Gorilla-Whale who worked at Tôhô, but this is untrue. Not only is there no evidence of this man even existing, but the various stories about him kept changing through the years (he worked as a stagehand, he worked as a PR man, etc.). According to Kimi Honda, wife of Ishirô Honda, the Gorilla-Whale man was just an inside joke between her husband and various others on the Tôhô lot--specifically producer Tanaka.
  • The first made Godzilla suit weighed around 200 pounds, making it rather difficult for the performer (Haruo Nakajima) to move around in.
  • Since no film like this had ever been made in Japan, they had never attempted a suit like the one needed for Godzilla. Much of the attention on the first version was on visual design. They had neglected to consider the requirements of the performer inside. Some of the poured latex was very inflexible. This factor in the 6 1/2- foot tall and over 200-pound suit made it almost impossible to move. A new suit had to be constructed that would be somewhat lighter and more flexible at the appropriate points.
  • Knowing that this was going to be a very expensive production, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka tried to build it on a solid foundation by hiring Shigeru Kayama, one of Japan's foremost writers of thrillers of that period (early 1950's) to write the story upon which the later screenplay would be based.
  • Because of the complexity of the production, the entire film was storyboarded. This is believed to be the very first time this was done for a Japanese film.
  • Haruo Nakajima could walk about thirty feet in the original costume, which weighed over 200 pounds (91 kilograms). Later costumes were a little lighter but all of the costumes were very heavy. It was also very hot inside the costume. All of the costumes after the first one were easy to work with, as they were made to fit Nakajima, whereas the one that had been built for Godzilla had not been made for his body size.
  • There were three cables coming out of the back of the costume. Two were for the operation of the eyes, and one was for the operation of the mouth. Eizo Kaimai was responsible for the movement of the eyes and the mouth. Batteries were installed in the Godzilla costume that was made for the second Godzilla movie. They were for the operation of the eyes and the mouth. The batteries made the costume even heavier than the one that had been constructed for the first Godzilla film.
  • One of the first Japanese movies to make it to Korea, after the rivalry between the two neighboring countries.
  • It was not uncommon for a cup of Haruo Nakajima's sweat to be drained from the Gojira suit.
  • The sound department tried numerous animal roars for Godzilla but felt they were unsuitable for an animal of such immense size. Akira Ifukube came up with Godzilla's roars by rubbing a coarse, resin-coated leather glove up and down the strings of a contrabass (double bass), and reverberated the recorded sound. Also, Godzilla's thunderous footsteps were made by beating a kettle drum with a knotted rope.
  • The electrical towers that Godzilla melts with his radioactive breath were actually made of wax. The special effects crew melted them by blowing hot air on them, as well as shining hot studio lights on them for the white-hot effect.
  • Tomoyuki Tanaka got the idea for the film while returning from Indonesia. He was looking down at the water and began imagining what was really below the surface.
  • The film received a Japanese Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, but lost to Shichinin no samurai (1954). However, the film did win the award for Best Visual Effects. It is the only Godzilla movie to receive a nomination for Best Picture.
  • Director Cameo: [Ishirô Honda] The man in the elelctric room who pulls the switch, activating the 300,000-volt tower lines to electrocute Godzilla.
  • Cameo: [Haruo Nakajima] A man inside the electric room (just before director Ishirô Honda pulls the electric switch). He also appears as one of Hagiwara's fellow reporters in the newspaper office.
  • One of the most famous legends regarding the production of this film has Ishirô Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya on the observation deck of what was then one of Tokyo's skyscrapers. They were planning Godzilla's path of destruction. Other visitors on the deck became concerned when portions of their conversation were overheard. The pair was stopped by authorities and questioned.
  • In 2004, Rialto Pictures released the original Japanese version of "Gojira" in the U.S. for the first time. The release included a new print in the original Japanese with new English subtitles.
  • The scenes of the troops going to the coast to face Gojira were actual Japanese Defense Force troops. They were on maneuvers when Honda shot the footage of them.
  • The name of the first two ships destroyed by Gojira were the Eiko-Maru and the Bingo-Maru.
  • Originally when Gojira (Godzilla) makes his first appearance, there was supposed to be a bloody cow in his mouth. However, director Ishirô Honda didn't like how it looked so he decided to refilm the sequence without the cow.
  • There were supposed to be more scenes filmed on Odo Island. One was to have Dr. Yemane, Emiko and Ogata visit the graves of those that died during the typhoon when Gojira (Godzilla) came ashore. That scene was to have helped to establish the previous relationship between the Yemani's and Shinkichi's family. Another scene was to have been filmed on the beach and in that one Emiko and Ogata become frightened when the get their first glimpse of Gojira (Godzilla) as they see his tail splashing in the water.
  • In the Japanese version, right after Dr. Yamane (Takashi Shimura) makes his first appearance (at the conference for the Oto Island survivors), he is embarrassed to notice that his tie was loose, and tucks it back into his jacket. This scene, perhaps one of the film's only bits of comedy relief, has become a pop-culture reference to Godzilla fans in Japan. The film Gojira ni-sen mireniamu (1999), pays tribute to this predicament when the character Shiro Miyasaka (played by Shirô Sano) straightens his loose tie back into his jacket at a military briefing.
  • The workload on the special effects department for this film, as well as the other productions underway at Toho, resulted in a shortage of necessary personnel. Special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya was able to get his son, Hajime Tsuburaya, his first job in the industry as a camera assistant.
  • The building whose clock tower Godzilla tears off is the Wako department store. It was completed in 1932 in the Ginza district and still stands today, clock tower intact.
  • In 2004, for his 50th anniversary, Godzilla was given a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
  • The simultaneous production of this film and Shichinin no samurai (1954) nearly forced Tôhô Kabushiki Kaisha into bankruptcy.
  • Originally there was a flashback scene filmed showing Emiko and Serizawa as teenagers that was to explain their relationship. However, it was deleted because it was felt that it slowed down the film.
  • Eiji Tsuburaya had strongly wanted to use stop-motion effects to portray Gojira. However, due to time and budgetary constraints the idea was abandoned. When Eiji had told Haruo Nakajima, the stuntman who played Godzilla, of his role, he estimated that "it would take about 7 years for me to complete, but the studio wants it done in 2 or 3 months."
  • Because the entire film was storyboarded, additional sketch artists had to be hired for the production. Also, since the actual look of Gojira hadn't been decided upon, the creature's appearance varied throughout the storyboard, depending on who did the individual sketch.
  • The same technique used to create the original King Kong (1933), stop motion animation, was rejected because of the time it would take and the subsequent cost. Also, according to special effects director, Eiji Tsuburaya, there was simply no one in Japan who was skilled and experienced in doing that kind of stop motion animation.
  • There was a common misconception that the name "Godzilla" was Americanized by its US distributors from Gojira. The name Godzilla was actually the idea of Tôhô and its international market. A year before finding an American distributor, they had originally marketed an English-subtitled version in 1955 titled "Godzilla, King of the Monsters!" which played briefly in Japanese-American theaters. Tôhô has since been the sole owners of the name Godzilla.
  • This was Akira Takarada's first starring role after appearing mainly in small supporting roles.
  • Not only was the movie inspired by the Lucky Dragon incident, where the fishing boat known as the Lucky Dragon strayed to close to what was named the most powerful nuclear test ever and was contaminated with radiation, but the opening seen in the movie was mostly based on that accident. A crew on board a fishing boat, going about their normal day, suddenly a bright flash of light catches their attention, and they are soon bombarded with radioactivity. The only difference is that the boat catches fire and sinks in the movie.
  • When "Gojira" was first released in Japan, the press had universally panned the film, saying, "Why is Japan bothering to make special effects movies? Special effects are only in the realm of American filmmaking." (This explained why the few Japanese special effects fantasies made before 1954 were mostly forgotten.) But nevertheless, "Gojira" became a huge box-office success, and put the "tokusatsu" (Japanese term for "special effects") medium on the map.
  • George Lucas cites this film's miniatures as an inspiration for his effects in the Star Wars films.
  • During Godzilla's attack on the first ship, if you look closely at the life preserver, you will see the marking "No. 5". This was a reference to the ship Lucky Dragon No. 5, which was one of the inspirations for the film.
  • During filming in September of 1954, rain contaminated by a Soviet nuclear test began falling in northern Japan, contaminating vegetables and well water. This may have inspired the scene where Professor Tanabe (Fuyuki Murakami) warned the Oto Island villagers not to drink water from the well.
  • One of the original Godzilla designs was a monster with a head shaped like a mushroom, intended to recall images of mushroom clouds. A sketch of this design can be seen on the special edition "Gojira: The Original Japanese Masterpiece" DVD.
  • One of the potential names for Godzilla was Anguirus. The name was discarded but used in the second Godzilla film, Gojira no gyakushû (1955) ("Godzilla Raids Again") as the name of the monster that Godzilla fights.
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