Jonah Goldberg has a fine piece up today detailing the 9/11 colorings of the new Godzilla-by-way-of-The Blair Witch Project flick Cloverfield, connecting the new film’s spirit to the “deeply significant” original Japanese version of Godzilla, which premiered “less than a decade after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a mere two years after the formal end to American occupation, and amidst an enormous controversy over a Japanese fishing boat damaged during American nuclear testing in the Bikini Atoll.” Goldberg adds: “Obviously, later Godzilla movies were silly affairs, and if there’s a Cloverfield 7: Bug-Lizard Meets Frankenstein, that will be silly too. But this movie is not.” More:
Self-consciously evocative of 9/11 - it’s set near ground zero - Cloverfield portrays self-absorbed young people who are suddenly yanked out of their comfortable lives. In the first scene where the monster is revealed, the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty comes screaming out of the sky. That’s hardly subtle symbolism for the end of America, or at least the end of America as we know it. The military is portrayed as caring, competent, and brave as it battles a monster who is, in the words of one harried soldier, “winning.”
I haven’t seen Cloverfield, but in my write up of the U.S. release of the “Director’s Cut” Japanese version of Godzilla a few years back I did note how much more political and poignant the film was once you took Raymond Burr back out of it:
In the Japanese version, the atomic bomb is front and center. The characters refer to it constantly, and make it clear that Godzilla is just a continuation of suffering for them. “First the black rain, then contaminated tuna, and now Godzilla,” one woman laments. Others complain that the orders to evacuate are too reminiscent of the recent past. On a subway train, moments before being eaten, another woman looks hopefully toward the future and shrugs off the threat of Godzilla. “Not after I survived Nagasaki,” she says. “I treasure life.”
American critics ate this version up for the obvious reasons—specifically, it did all the up-front thinking for them and lent itself to a “relevant” review, even if, as I noted, it was more fascinating to me at least that “nine years after the end of World War Two, we’ve got a Japanese film glorifying a kamikaze mission against Godzilla, which today’s critics all seem to agree is a stand in for bad ole Uncle Sam.” I don’t blame Japanese filmmakers, to be clear, but it is always interesting to parse what Andrew Ferguson might call the “wised-up” American debunking of any positive attributes of American history or culture. Often as not the debunking exists for no other reason than today’s “wised-up” are programmed with no other way to approach anything, cultural or political than to scoff knowingly. My closing argument went like so:
If America is Godzilla, then later films in the series follow our relationship more accurately: Godzilla becomes a hero to the Japanese, protecting them against the foreign monsters that would otherwise destroy them. The American Godzilla doesn’t look so bad when you’ve got a North Korean Mothra shooting missiles over your country and threatening to turn your homeland into a “sea of fire.”
See also my defense of “torture porn.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?