Monday, July 15, 2013

The Real Kaiju

"Helpless people on subway trains 
Wave goodbye as they scream and die" - 
Blue Öyster Cult

That's not how it went, but how I remember it. Here's how it actually went:

Prior to seeing Pacific Rim, I felt I needed some context. So, I watched the original Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, not be confused with Gojira. Gojira is the 1954 Japanese movie, and Godzilla is the 1956 Americanized version starring Raymond Burr.

I'm convinced that both versions would bomb today, just as Pacific Rim would be viewed as an incoherent mess in 1956. Credit a lifetime of TV watching and video game playing for the difference.

This is not to say that the current generation is entirely jaded. I had a class of ten-year-olds, boys and girls, watch me pour molten aluminum into a sand mold flask this past Friday, and I got to tell you they went bananas over me pulling a red hot crucible out of the furnace, and positively ape-shit watching the amazing quicksilver molten aluminum pour into the mold. I can only hope that experience stays with them for awhile.

The movie plays as a detective story for nearly the first half until the first appearance of the monster. However, the use of psychological tension is quite effective. For example the slow paced deep bass thundering of the unseen monster's footsteps in the night is very unnerving. The special effects and action scenes may seem quaint today, but the aftermath scenes of the suffering humans are what are really important (for anyone who can realize that the WWII firebombing of Tokyo is barely a decade old, and I'm sure the Japanese audience was aware of this).

Not surprisingly, the Godzilla was panned by US critics as a cheap horror movie. Nevertheless, it was a  big success with audiences in the States. More importantly, the movie managed to get away with a subversive, indeed, almost unpatriotic, message about US H-bomb tests in the Pacific (those tests are blamed in the movie for resurrecting Godzilla from his Jurassic slumber).

So, memories of WWII notwithstanding, this was also during the time when the United States was conducting H-bomb tests in the South Pacific. The message was pretty clear to anyone with a small amount of introspection that the real giant monster here was the United States of America. (Unfortunately, many Japanese engaged in self-pity and victimization, rather than realize it was pretty fucking stupid to attack the Eastern Kaiju on Dec. 7th, 1941).

But of course, that's what we (the USA) were and still are. That's pretty obvious, isn't it?

Kind of makes you proud, in a sick, twisted, perverse way.

Oh, and, fresh out of the kiln, two machinerettes in cast glass, tentatively identified as  M. gumbo:

And two freshly cast bronze machinerettes, M. firxii, and M. corona, repsectively:

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