Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Rodan (1956) ***

NR, 72 min.
Director: Ishirô Honda
Writers: Takeshi Kimura, Ken Kuronuma, Takeo Murata, David Duncan (U.S. version)
Starring: Kenji Sawara, Yumi Shirakawa, Akihiko Hirata

Have you ever watched a movie that you saw as a kid and found incredible joy in seeing images that impacted you so many years ago? That was the experience I had watching “Rodan”, a sort of sister movie to the 1954 b-sci-fi flick “Gojira”, better known to American audiences as “Godzilla”. It isn’t really a sequel to “Godzilla”, but the same studio made it and eventually the Rodan monster was incorporated into the Godzilla series of movies. 

I’m sure I watched all of the Godzilla movies made before 1984 at least twice as a child. They were the most frequently played movies during our local subnetwork’s Saturday afternoon Creature Feature. I’ve been watching several of these movies in preparation of the new “Godzilla” movie that hits theaters in a little over a week. Most of them I don’t remember at all. Even though I couldn’t have said so before watching the film, I actually remembered “Rodan” vividly.

In the first half of the movie, before they discover the Rodans, the mining operation must’ve hit some chord with me as a kid. I remember well the scenes with the miners descending into the waters of the flooded mineshaft and fearing for them. I remember replaying these scenes in the woods with my friends. We would tie ropes to each other and descend into the make believe murky waters. One of us would get sucked in and the other two would struggle to free themselves before pulled in themselves.

I think one of the reasons this one stuck so well is because it’s one of the better films of the series. Yes, it still has the bad special effects, the toys being knocked over, the Styrofoam buildings collapsing, the monsters that are obviously men in rubber suits. However, the story leading up to the creature’s scenes of destruction are actually conveying a worthwhile story. The analogy and criticism of the nuclear race is much more prevalent in this one than most of the others. Only the original “Gojira” spells it out as clearly. And the film’s final moments are almost poetic in a way. If you’re going to partake of the Toho Studios Kaiju films, you could do much worse than “Rodan”.

No comments: