Almost everyone has heard of Godzilla, even if they’ve never seen a Godzilla movie.
What most people don’t know is the famous monster’s connection to nuclear weapons.
The American public’s focus on atomic weapons was vastly different.
The American narrative was that it was necessary to deploy atomic weapons to save lives and end the war — that the United States acted simultaneously benevolently and in the name of self-defense by using such weapons.
In the final line of “GOJIRA,” a serious warning is provided.
The man who discovered Godzilla’s origin says solemnly, “If we keep on conducting nuclear tests, it’s possible that another Godzilla might appear somewhere in the world, again.” Conversely, in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” the American narrator ends with a message of hope: Even though this tragic event has occurred, “The whole world [can] wake up and live again.” The different perspectives are not surprising; the citizens of the United States and Japan felt completely different fears after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.The combination of the massive explosion and an unexpected shift in wind meant the sailors on the Lucky Dragon were in fallout range of the largest explosive nuclear test in US history.The crew all suffered radiation poisoning with one member dying a few months later and others remaining hospitalized for more than a year.The producers of the film felt that a debate by Japanese politicians of the morality of US nuclear policy would upset World War II veterans — they also decided that including an American would make the movie more palatable.A shift away from the anti-nuclear narrative happened immediately with the next release.With nuclear tensions on the rise around the world, there’s no better time to get reacquainted with the real Godzilla.The origin of Godzilla centers around a real-life nuclear incident that took place on Bikini Atoll in March of 1954.Godzilla itself is a metaphor for the carnage brought by nuclear war.Fundamentally, “GOJIRA” is a bleak tale about what would be at stake if the world continued to test and possess nuclear weapons.The discussion of the negative impact of the decision to use nuclear weapons on Japan was limited to small circles.Politics and history aside, the Godzilla franchise has remained a successful piece of culture in both the United States and Japan since its original debut, but in the 30-plus iterations that have come to life since 1954, American productions have avoided a return to the monster’s true origin story and to the message behind its destruction.