Friday, September 17, 2010

Spotlight On: National Diet Building

Above, the National Diet Building in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Spotlight On: National Diet Building

by Armand Vaquer

(Originally published in G-FAN #88, Summer 2009)

The National Diet Building is Japan's capitol building. It first appeared in Godzilla (1954) and in several other Godzilla films, most recently in 2003's Godzilla x Mothra x Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. The Diet (Japan's Parliament) consists of the House of Councillors and the House of Representatives. Next to Tokyo Tower, the National Diet Building suffered the most damage in Godzilla movies by a Tokyo building.

In 1910, the Finance Ministry started a commission in an attempt to take control over the new Diet Building design from the Home Ministry. Prime Minister Katsura Tarô chaired the commission, which recommended that the new building emulate an Italian Renaissance architectural style. This recommendation was criticized by many who thought that choice to be too arbitrary.

The ministry sponsored a public design competition in 1918, and 118 designs were submitted for the new building. The first prize winner was Watanabe Fukuzo.

The Diet Building was eventually constructed with a floor plan based on Watanabe's entry. The roof and tower of the building were inspired by another entrant, third prize winner Takeuchi Shinshichi, and are believed to have been chosen because they reflected a more modern hybrid architecture than the purely European and East Asian designs proposed by other architects. The 1936 landmark building southwest of the Imperial Palace is known for its pyramid-shaped cap, and inside are cushy chairs and fantastical mosaics.

Above, iconic scene of Godzilla trampling a wing of the Diet Building in 1954. Copyright 1954 Toho Co., Ltd.

In Godzilla, the Diet Building had one of its wings trampled by Godzilla and in Godzilla x Mothra x Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., the entire tower section gets demolished during the battle between Mechagodzilla and Godzilla. When Godzilla was first released in 1954, Japanese audiences applauded the scene of Godzilla's rampage through the building.

King Kong, with Mie Hama in hand, stood atop the building's tower in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and Mothra used it to build her cocoon in Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992). Distance shots of the building could also be seen in Monster Zero (1965) and in Godzilla x Mechagodzilla (2002).


Note: Tour information for the National Diet Building is included in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

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Burbank, CA – March 29, 2010 – Legendary Pictures announced today that they will develop and produce a new film based on Toho Company’s famed GODZILLA character. Through the terms of the agreement, Legendary Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a movie inspired by Toho’s Godzilla, a franchise the Japanese company created and has nurtured for over fifty years.

Toho’s GODZILLA franchise boasts one of the most widely recognized film creatures worldwide, resulting in a series of books, television programs, video games and more than 25 films worldwide. Legendary intends to approach the film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible. The company will, in the near future, announce a filmmaker to helm the film for an intended 2012 release. The film will fall under the company’s co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Toho will distribute the film in Japan."

"Godzilla" is coming back -- this time, with Legendary Pictures taking the lead, co-producing and co-financing with Warner Bros. for release in 2012.

Legendary announced Monday it had obtained rights to the iconic monster character from Japan's Toho Co., which has overseen more than 25 "Godzilla" films. Toho will release the pic in Japan.

Legendary said it's planning to announce a director shortly.

In addition to Legendary, producers on the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers. Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will exec produce.

"Godzilla is one of the world's most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise," said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary. "Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has."

Legendary noted the film will fall under its co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Legendary's productions with Warners have included "The Dark Knight," "300" and "The Hangover."

Speculation about a new "Godzilla" has been active since last summer. The Bloody Disgusting web site reported in August that the project was in development.