Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Anti-Semetic Devil is in the Details.


King Kong Vs. Godzilla
1962, Japan
Ishiro Honda
35mm

It’s not every day that you get a chance to see a genuine classic of Japanese cinema in glorious Cinemascope on the big screen. So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to see the currently unavailable King Kong Vs. Godzilla in all its glory, and I was not disappointed. Carrying on the tradition of rich social commentary and subtle cultural criticism begun with the original Godzilla, King of the Monsters, this second sequel to the 1956 classic replaces the anti-nuclear message of the first film with a comment on capitalism, greed, and their effects on the upper echelons of government. Godzilla, in what is perhaps a comment on the cyclical patterns of history, returns to Japan once again, awoken from an icy slumber in the Arctic by an American nuclear submarine. The connection to both nuclear weaponry is not a new one, as this is a revisiting of the basic premise of the original film, where the nuclear horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are given visceral life through the terror of the enormous Godzilla. Fins glowing and radioactive breath blazing, the monster makes his way towards Tokyo, while the Japanese government struggles to mount a defense. It is here that master director Ishiro Honda begins to insert more complicated thematic elements into the film, maintaining the tried and true anti-nuclear element, but adding additional layers. A charmingly comedic character, Mr. Tako, the head of a powerful pharmaceutical company, decides that, in order to take advantage of the hysteria surrounding Godzilla, he needs his own monster to exploit and brand with his company’s logo. The frightening prospect of a world in which corporations and advertising are more important than human life is but the first of Honda’s many statements about the state of society. As Kong is captured by Mr. Tako, the destruction wrought by his inevitable battle with Godzilla is a chilling vision of the potential conclusion of the US/USSR arms race that was currently brewing. And the pharmaceutical company’s links to both the government and the military offers the careful viewer another level of critique, this one of the corporate, military-industrial links that threaten to smother the freedom of the individual in today’s global economy, and nowhere is this more evident than in the scene where Kong battles a giant octopus, which clearly symbolizes the struggle of primal and personal freedom with the many tentacled arms of the European Jewry. Oh dear. Sorry about that. It seems that my attempts at wringing meaning out of every detail of this rubber-suited atrocity has caused me to form half-witted and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories out of vague clues and ambiguous evidence. Next thing you know, I’ll be writing lengthy essays about how Masonic imagery on American money reveals the pro-marijuana agenda of the founding fathers, and how PBS is trying to turn your children gay through the color purple. I suppose its my fault, really. If embarrassment at paying to see this film, and actually enjoying it hadn’t made me try to justify the picture through first year film studies over-analysis, then perhaps I wouldn’t have invited all the hate-mail I’m due to receive from the Anti-Defamation League. Ah, well. I suppose now there’s no point in mentioning that King Kong looks like a melting claymation puppet, or that Ichiro Arishima’s buck-toothed, squinty, knock-kneed portrayal of Mr. Tako is probably the most shocking stereotype of Asians since The Mask of Fu-Manchu, or even that nothing in this movie makes much sense until the two rubber-suits start punching each other in slow motion while toy helicopters attached to sparklers jitter by on fishing line, and even that is questionable. Suffice it to say that the film is fun, if you’re into wasting time and really stupid things, and some of my best friends are Jewish.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jim Naka said...

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12:37 PM  
Anonymous "SID THE SOD" said...

I SAW THIS FILM ON T.V. WHEN I WAS A KID (circa 1974) AND THOUGHT IT WAS SUPERB, BUT I SAW IT AGAIN RECENTLY, AND ALAS, I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT IT NOW COMES ACROSS AS ONE OF THE MOST LUDICROUSLY EMBARRESSING JOKES IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA, (although its still a million times better than anything thats ever been produced in england), you know the routine by now, thats right, "DESTROY THE BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY NOW, DESTROY IT WITH MALICE-A-FORE-THOUGHT AND EXTREME PREJUDICE, DESTROY IT NOW !!!

12:48 PM  

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