UltramanGoji wrote:A lot of the trippy scenes such as the Sesame Street-style animations and the fish head scene are basically non-sequiturs and have little actual relevance to the overall story. They would probably fit much better if the rest of the film was as abstract as they were. But it isn’t. For the most part, it’s a pretty standard Godzilla movie. So the surreal scenes just kind of...exist and take up the movie’s time.
This is where you lost me. What do you mean the fish head sequence is a non sequitir? It’s very obvious and important symbolism that humans will soon become the fish, that have been destroyed by pollution in the ocean if this trend of pollution keeps going. The scenes prior to this were all about the ocean and fish quickly dying off. It also serves a period piece, showing the music scene during the time period, and ties into a cautionary/tragic tale about youth who clearly care about the environment but are powerless due to rampant drug use and apathetic adults. While not a focus in the film, the almost suicidal and nihilistic behavior portrayed by the uncle heavily parallels a lot of the sentiments of Americans at the time protesting the Vietnam war.
The animations and quick cuts aren’t just random, they also serve a function to quickly convey the overall tone and creepiness of what’s occurring. They add to the drug fueled dynamic of the 60’s and also make the audience uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter if some of them aren’t diagetic.
You lampoon the film by noting these cuts are Sesame Street-esque, but completely ignore the fact that a large component of this film revolves around a child. It’s intentional. (And also how is something being compared to Sesame Street a criticism?) Likewise the shots of the television screens, portray the growing panic, are intentded to make the audience feel stressed out and uncomfortable by what they are showing and the way they are introduced.
None of the characters are particularly noteworthy either. Most of them just talk exposition the whole time and tha material they’re given to work with isn’t very good.
Ken may be a child, but clearly he’s characterized in the film well and compelling as the film can be viewed as a young child coming to grips with the idea of issues larger then himself, and dealing with things such as environmental accidents. Likewise, his uncle portrays a generation that is rapidly dying out on enthusiasm and drugs, and despite all this is determined to remain happy, indicates by the big music jam on mt Fuji. It’s to show a clear contrast of the youth at the time, and the serious, almost apathetic adults.
It’s true that Ken’s father is slightly genetic, but he’s still a cool character by actively involving Ken in what’s going on, and taking the threat of Hedorah very seriously even from the get/go. A lot of his dialogue, like when he says,”I want the world to see(in reference to his face burning)” is a clear and very strong sentiment that shows his character.
Godzilla is also weird in this movie. I think this might be one of Nakajima’s worst performances. Godzilla’s motions are so off in this one. He moves far slower than normal and I’m not a big fan of the random hand motions and superhero-like poses he does all the time. It doesn’t feel right.
It works when you realize some of this film maybe in fact revolve around the idea that Ken might be partially fantasizing what is occurring. This is the most heroic Godzilla is ever portrayed, and some aspects of the film are clearly derived from Ken’s imagination.
To be honest, this is one of my least favorites of the entire Showa era. It introduces a great new enemy monster but it’s hamfisted environmental message, disjointed editing, and over-the-top surreal style just bring it down for me.
I have no clue why modern day audiences see an enviornmenal message and instantly equate it to bad. For the time period this film was made, Japan did suffer from an incredibly amount of over industrialization and pollution. A lot of the fears within the film were incredibly realistic and faithful to what was going on at the time. Your criticism here on Hedorah, and the film at large, is no different then calling the 1954 Godzilla film a ham-fisted attenpt to demonize nuclear testing. Sometimes things are made because they’re relevant and important.
And yes, Hedorah is an amazing monster, as it represents many real environmental threats that can occur, such as red tide, poor air quality, and acid rain, in addition to poor waste management and an over abundance of trash.
Many of the seemingly random elements of Godzilla vs Hedorah are very much not random and are certainly intentional.