Considering I’ve been ploughing through all the Godzilla films and have nearly come to an end, it’s only right that I include a Death Of The Month from one of them. Rather than do the expected thing and have a scene of Godzilla killing another monster, of which there are many, some even a bit gruesome, I decided to have a rare scene [they do exist in the series, but with the odd exception are mostly relegated to Godzilla and Godzilla, Mothra And King Ghidorah: Giant Monster’s All-Out Attack] where a human is killed by Godzilla, and it’s one of the best scenes in the entire series. It’s powerful, but also very touching, with a real emotional resonance. In fact, this soppy old git is almost brought to tears whenever I watch it!
Godzilla Vs King Ghidorah is for me one of the very best Godzilla films, containing all the monster fighting and city stomping you could want, but also having an amazingly imaginative and bonkers story which incorporates time travelling, aliens and World War 2. Much of it revolves around Yasuaki Shindo, who in 1944 is the leader of a group of Japanese soldiers defending Lagos Island against the Americans. It seems like the battle is lost when suddenly a dinosaur, looking very much like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, appears to kill a great many of the Yanks and drive the rest away. However, it is wounded by gunfire. Despite feeling a huge amount of debt to the creature, Shindo and the other surviving soldiers leave it to supposedly die. In 1954, atomic bomb tests transform the still alive dinosaur into Godzilla.
Fast forward to 1991, and Godzilla is wrecking Tokyo as usual. Shindo has become a rich businessman and one of those responsible for rebuilding Japan’s economy, but has always felt much sadness towards the creature who saved his life which he abandoned. As Godzilla approaches his skyscraper, he refuses to leave his office at the top and stares out of the window as Godzilla approaches. He knows he’s going to die, and doesn’t seem too bothered, because his death will not only repay his debt to Godzilla but be a relief from his burden of guilt. As Godzilla’s face looms at him through the window, Akira Ifukube’s music takes on an elegiac quality, superbly enhancing the mood of the scene as Shindo nods at Godzilla, and Godzilla, recognising Shindo, nods back. The two look into each other’s eyes for a while until Godzilla gives to Shindo what he has probably been wishing for for decades. Godzilla’s mouth beam shoots towards the camera, incinerating Shindo, then we cut to a shot of the top of the building being blasted.
There will always be a great many folk who regard Godzilla movies as childish, campy nonsense, and some of them are [but what’s so wrong with that?], but this scene, one of the very best in the whole series, shows that a Godzilla film can have genuine gravitas and emotion as well as just being damn good cinema, with fine acting, staging, effects work and scoring all coming together! I hope the new movie will have a scene as good.