Godzilla was first released to the big screen in 1954
in Japan as Gojira.
This first Godzilla film was directed by Ishiro Honda, who
had been working under Akira Kurosawa as second-unit director,
and produced by Toho Studios. Many think that it was inspired
by the success of King Kong and the US release of Beast
from 20,000 Fathoms.
From the start, Godzilla had a very Japanese slant
incorporating the nuclear paranoia that had become part of Japan's
national psyche after Hiroshima as shown in numerous scenes
of Tokyo devastated by the nuclear monster's fiery breath and
its population crushed and burnt by radiation.
Pleased with the acceptance, Toho made it's first sequel
in 1955 called Gojira
no Gyakushu(later released in the US as Gigantis
the Fire Monster). This success attracted the attention
of US distributors, but they felt that it wouldn't be accepted
well in the US in its current format. Gojira
was acquired by Embassy Pictures, who completely re-edited it,
adding scenes featuring a US reporter, played by Raymond Burr.
It was re-named Godzilla,
King of the Monsters, and the legend was born.
Toho produced 28 Godzilla films that can be looked
at from several different directions. Godzilla,
King of the Monsters is not considered a Toho production
even though most of the film was produced by them. Another film
that was not produced by Toho was the 1998 release Godzilla
produced by Columbia
Pictures, which is refered to by many of Godzilla fans as
GINO (Godzilla In Name Only).
There has been a lot of confusion with the different
releases and akas involved with the Godzilla series. If you
don't think so, look at the German poster for King
Kong vs Godzilla OR the German poster for Godzilla
vs Megalon OR the German poster for Godzilla
vs the Sea Monster.
To help untangle the confusion, we have put together
a chart that lists the films and their aka's, called Untangling
Godzilla. BE SURE to pay attention (both in our database
and on the chart), to the aka's, directors AND
the monsters. Several aka's have the same titles so quite
often you have to notice the details.
Lets look at a breakdown of the films produced by Toho:
Ishiro Hondo - made the original Gojira in 1954. He
also directed King
Kong vs Godzilla ('62), Mothra
vs Godzilla ('64), Ghidorah,
the 3 Headed Monster ('64), Invasion
of Astro Monster ('65), Destroy
All Monsters ('68), All Monsters Attack ('69) and Terror
of MechaGodzilla ('75).
Motoyoshi Oda - made Gigantis
the Fire Monster in 1955 which was also called Godzilla
Jun Fukuda - made Ebirah,
Terror of the Deep in 1966 (known in the US as Godzilla
vs the Sea Monster), Son
of Godzilla ('67), Godzilla
vs. Gigan ('72), Godzilla
vs. Megalon ('73), and Godzilla
vs. MechaGodzilla ('74).
Yoshimitsu Banno - made Godzilla
vs Hedorah in 1971.
Koji Hashimoto - made Return
of Godzilla in 1984
Kazuki Omori - made Godzilla
vs Biollante in 1989 and Godzilla
vs King Ghidorah in 1991.
Takao Okawara - made Godzilla
vs. Mothra in 1992, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla II ('94),
Godzilla vs Destoroyah ('95) and Godzilla 2000 ('99)
Kensho Yamashita - made Godzilla
vs Space Godzilla
Masaaki Tezuka - made Godzilla
vs Megaguirus in 2000, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
Shusuke Kaneko - Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah:
Giant Monsters All-Out Attack in 2001
Ryuhei Kitamura - Godzilla
Final Wars in 2004.
In our chart called Untangling
Godzilla, we have listed the additional monsters that were
used in each film. They are bolded and in italics in
the description box of each film
Collectors of Japanese posters know that
original theater posters are marked with an Eirin
Mark which is a Code of Ethics stamp. So many collectors
divide the eras of Godzilla by the Eirin marks. We explain these
in our Japan
The eras covered by the Godzilla movies
Showa - all films before 1989
Heisei - all films from 1989
Millinium - instead of continuing the
Hensei... films after 2000 until present are also divided off.
Many have compared the Godzilla films
with the relations of the US with Japan, starting with the US
as an enemy then slowly becoming a friend and then defender.
There has also been many that analyse the Godzilla films trying
to categorize them by serious, versus and then some by sequels
of the originals.
In 1978, Hanna-Barbera Productions produced
an animated Godzilla Saturday morning cartoon and shown as Godzilla
Power Hour. The series featured a team of scientists, who could
call upon the monster using a special communicator in order
to assist them in various adventures. Also included in the series
was a smaller version of Godzilla called Godzooky.
The Godzilla cartoon was aired in reruns through the
early 1980s, and is periodically broadcast on Cartoon Network's
The 1998 film Godzilla,
produced by Columbia is not considered by many Godzilla fans
as being Godzilla. Columbia tried to explain him as a by product
of a Komodo Dragon by a French atomic test on a French Polynesian
island that attacked New York.
The New York attack was referred to in
the movie Godzilla,
Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.
The monster that appeared in New York was not Godzilla, but
a similar monster. This monster made a return appearance in
Godzilla's 50th anniversary film, Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004.
It was renamed Zilla and also attacked Sydney, Australia and
was eventually killed by the real Godzilla.
Another cartoon, Godzilla: The Series,
debuted in 1998 as a result of the Columbia release of Godzilla.
Although it featured the creature design and characters from
that film, the concept was much more in line with the traditional
depiction of Godzilla.
On his 50th birthday, on 29 November 2004, Godzilla got a star
on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Here's the search on Godzilla
from our Cinema Poster Archive
we have a special thanks to Sean Linkenback (the
hobbys resident Godzilla expert) for his help and research and to Armin
Junge for his great selection of Japanese Godzilla images.