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Godzilla, King of the Monsters

By Bill Laidlaw

Originally titled Gojira ("Go" from Gorilla and "jira" from Kujira, which means "whale" or big in Japanese) in 1954, an atom bomb releases the giant monster from his frozen sleep (the deepest part of the ocean is near Japan). He wades ashore and destroys Tokyo. Sounds like an allegory of Hiroshima right? Wrong. Godzilla's creator says the first Godzilla movie was written after a Japanese fishing boat didn't get the word about an atmospheric (above-ground or above-ocean) A-bomb test and was too close when it went off. Some of the fishermen died without reaching home, the rest died eventually from radiation. Two years later, Japan's first sci-fi monster movie was released in America, with 20 minutes cut and replaced by footage of Raymond Burr as an American reporter. Burr also appeared in the 1985 remake.

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