We are now just two months away from the release of Gareth Edwards’ astonishing looking Godzilla movie, and the director attended the SXSW film festival this week to attend a screening of the original Godzilla movie.
On Tuesday night, Edwards was in attendance as the original 1954 Ishiro Honda film was screened, and after the screening, Edwards delivered something very special for fans. After the original film was shown, a new clip was shown to SXSW attendees, and the footage finally showed Godzilla in all its glory. Not only that, but the said to be ultra scary clip also revealed an as yet unnamed new Kaiju.
Here is how STYD described the new Kaiju:
It’s a multi-limbed creature with what look like wings on its back (that would explain the mystery shape we saw cutting through the clouds in the official trailer). This beast is wreaking havoc at the airport that sets off a domino-like chain of explosions which take out two airplanes waiting at their gate. From inside the airport, travelers panic, watching the mayhem through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
They then talked about the revealing of Godzilla:
A giant foot comes into frame. It looks like a damn tank. But so much bigger than a tank. We’re now back on the tarmac and this second creature looks up at its foe… and in an epic “hero shot,” the camera cuts to Godzilla’s legs and tilts up, offering us the best look at the famous monster yet. You’ve seen him by this point in photos and in fleeting trailer shots, but this footage finally does justice: He looks stocky. He looks like brawler, ready to throw down. And with a mighty Godzilla roar, the footage slams to black.
Variety: How is “Godzilla” different from all the other movies about superheroes saving the earth from imminent destruction?
Gareth Edwards: Probably one of the important things I felt about this film was that the characters at the heart of the story shouldn’t be superheroes. They should be everyday relatable people. In the [Steven] Spielberg movies they found that holy grail, the sweet spot of having the epic spectacle, but also relatable and emotional characters. Those events change and affect the characters, but the idea of someone blatantly saving the day becomes quite predictable. The events are real harrowing and present a life-changing scenario, so we just tried to take it really serious.
Do you think audiences have tired of CGI-heavy films? What’s the level of fatigue?
I think it’s valid, I call it CGI fatigue and you can get it quite easily in these kind of movies, when you are constantly throwing every visual you can at the screen. You climax quickly, then reach a plateau. It’s the same with photography. I’m always about trying to find new perspectives on the event that give you a moment of quiet, somewhere to go with the movie. It’s so easy to peak with these films then you get stuck as a filmmaker. I think basically there’s this CGI trend that is going to be over soon.
What do you mean?
It was over like 10 years ago, we had this big excitement and sort of a honeymoon period. It felt like “Jurassic Park” opened the floodgates and we worked through the list and checked off the boxes. We went through the list quite a few years ago. Now, it’s new territory to go back to proper storytelling and cinematic storytelling in terms of showing restraint and subtly, teasing the audience and being suspenseful as well. I know it’s very easy to just get fatigued with set pieces. That was something I was really careful about. I’m trying my hardest to try to build the big moment in such a way that the audience will climax right at the end of the movie and then we hit the credits.
Godzilla is a beloved monster. How did you battle its reputation and make your own version?
As much pressure as the fans put on you, the studio put on you, nothing equals the amount of pressure I put on myself. You only live once and this is a once in a multiple lifetime opportunity, so I don’t want to screw it up. But you also shouldn’t make a film for other people, you should make something you want to sit and watch that gives you goosebumps.
Tuesday night a sold-out crowd watched the 1954 “Godzilla.” Is this a sequel?
No, it is a standalone movie that is inspired by the original and we worked with Toho [who is distributing in Japan], who produced that film.
Is Godzilla good or evil?
Neither. He’s restoring the balance to nature. We’ve taken an absurd position on the planet as this alpha predator and the movie suggests, what happens if we weren’t top dog. He comes along and puts us in our place. If you try and pick a fight with nature, you’re going to lose. But the film does take itself very seriously. I could have made a cheesy popcorn version and it probably would have done well, but that’s not what we were looking for.
Collider: Can you tell me a little bit about developing the story? I was watching the trailer commentary, and you mentioned that it all started with that nuclear blast, and it grew from there.
Gareth Edwards: Yeah, I was trying to find a hook that was, A) A nod to the original 1954 Godzilla, where Godzilla’s origins were from the nuclear tests in the Pacific, and also something that was realistic. The problem with doing anything like this, especially Godzilla, if it’s an origin story, how on Earth can a giant creature like this suddenly appear? How come we didn’t know about him? That’s impossible. So the obvious solution was, well, what if we do know about him? What is parts of the government have always known and those nuclear tests in the Pacific weren’t tests; they were trying to kill it.
Those two things went *click* and we went, “Okay, that could work,” and we pitched it to the studio and they’re like, “Yeah, that’s good. Let’s do that. Where does it go from there?” And then the next year was, mainly with Max Borenstein, was bouncing around ideas trying to land on something. It was a very trial-and-error thing. I’d love to say we had the idea straight away, but we tried all sorts of things and things would start to click into place until, finally, a year and a half into it, we had something that we felt good about and the studio felt good about, and it timed perfectly with this Comic-Con piece we did that we took to San Diego. The reaction was so good from the crowd that it got greenlit. Before I knew it, I had to fly to Canada and we started filming.
Do you feel the pressure to keep the door open for one?
Edwards: I don’t want to assume that there’s a sequel at all, because it all depends on if people like the movie. The thing that was good about working with everybody on this film was that it was like, no, this should be a standalone movie, this is something that should exist on its own. I roll my eyes when I go to the cinema and they do something at the end for the sequel. I want a story that begins and ends, and you leave on a high. That’s all we cared about when we were making this; just this film. If this film is good, the others can come, but let’s just pay attention to this and not get sidetracked by other things.
So we don’t have to sit through the credits and wait for something in the end?
Edwards: There’s no … I don’t know what they call it. They have stupid terms for these things, like “button”? I know these terms now. There’s no “button” at the end of this film. I had a little campaign that we weren’t going to do that. It should just be a movie on its own. And if there’s another film ever, that should be on its own as well. All my favorite sequels and originals, films that got it right, exist on their own.
You said that the nuclear tests are trying to kill the creature, so does that mean that one of the big points you came up with is an origin?
Edwards: In the film we address that question. I don’t want to go into it too much, but there’s … How all this craziness in the film happens is explained. Hopefully you leave with some questions, because I think it’s fun to try and connect dots and work out backstory. There’s a lot of things that didn’t end up in the movie, ideas that I wanted to put in that just couldn’t fit. I think anyone should be able to leave the movie and know the origins of Godzilla.
How about the design? Did it change at all during production?
Edwards: No, I mean, it was a slow process. I thought, out of all the tests we’ve got to do, the easiest one by far is design Godzilla, because it’s done, right? You just do that. And then you’ve got to get that and try it and, hmm, it doesn’t look right. So the basic idea that I said to the designers was, “Okay, it’s a real animal. It really exists. We haven’t seen it in a long time, and the only people who saw it were just first-hand testimony. They ran to Toho Studios in Japan, and they tried to explain it and draw it, and then they went and made all their guys-in-suit movies based on this real animal.” We have to make something that feels real, that when you see it, it’s the coolest most realistic Godzilla, but you can look at the Toho movies and go, “Oh, I see. I see how you would have arrived at that design based on this if you glimpsed it in the ocean.”
How about Godzilla as a character? Is it just going to be a threat, or is there another layer somewhere?
Edwards: There might be another layer somewhere. It’s not black and white. I’ll put it that way.
Is he the sole monster in this movie?
Edwards: To allow you to put this out straight away, I’ll say, “I can’t say.”
An epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.
Gareth Edwards directs Godzilla, which stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick- Ass”), Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai,” “Inception”), Elizabeth Olsen (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”), Oscar® winner Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient,” “Cosmopolis”), and Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”), with Oscar® nominee David Strathairn (“Good Night, and Good Luck.,” “The Bourne Legacy”) and Bryan Cranston (“Argo,” TV’s “Breaking Bad”).
Edwards directs from a screenplay by Max Borenstein and Oscar ® nominee Frank Darabont (“The Green Mile,” “The Shawshank Redemption”), story by David Callaham and Max Borenstein, based on the character “Godzilla” owned and created by TOHO CO., LTD. Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are producing with Mary Parent and Brian Rogers. Patricia Whitcher and Alex Garcia are serving as executive producers, alongside Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira.
The behind-the-scenes creative team includes Oscar®-nominated director of photography Seamus McGarvey (“Anna Karenina,” “Atonement”); production designerOwen Paterson (“The Matrix” trilogy); editor Bob Ducsay (“Looper”); Oscar-nominated costume designer Sharen Davis (“Dreamgirls,” “Ray,” “Django Unchained”); and Oscar®-winning visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel (the “Lord of the Rings” films). The score is being created by Oscar®
-nominated composer Alexandre Desplat (“Argo,” “The King’s Speech”).
Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures present a Legendary Pictures production, a Gareth Edwards film, “Godzilla.” Slated to open beginning May 16, 2014, the film is expected to be presented in 3D, 2D and IMAX® in select theatres and will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, except in Japan, where it will be distributed by Toho Co., Ltd. Legendary Pictures is a division of Legendary Entertainment.