Tuesday, June 28, 2011

40 Years of "Godzilla vs. Hedorah"

by Armand Vaquer

Seven years ago, the 50th anniversary of Godzilla (1954) was celebrated.

Part of that celebration included the DVD release by Columbia-TriStar Home Entertainment of Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971), along with several other Godzilla movies.

Suddenly, next month marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Godzilla vs. Hedorah in Japan on July 24, 1971. It was released the following year in the United States as Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster.

This is the famous (or infamous, depending upon one's point-of-view) movie in which Godzilla curls up his tail and uses his atomic breath as a rocket engine to fly (!) after Hedorah. Director Yoshimitsu Bannai added the flying scenes to "lighten up" an otherwise dark movie. This was Banno's message movie on pollution.

Right, Yoshimitsu Banno at a dinner party in Roppongi, Tokyo in 2004. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The movie is quirky in other ways besides the flying sequences. It also contains animated sequences whose intent was to drive home the dangers of pollution along with strange music motifs and bizarre editing.

Tomoyuki Tanaka, the producer of the Godzilla series, was in the hospital at the time Hedorah was made. When he finally saw the finished movie, he reportedly said that Banno ruined the Godzilla series and was determined to never allow Banno to direct another Godzilla movie. This may or may not be a true story. Banno refuted this at G-FEST a few years ago.

Godzilla vs. Hedorah has risen in G-fandom's esteem over the years. The U.S. version (Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster) was featured in the 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.

To this day, Godzilla vs. Hedorah remains an odd entry in the entire series of Godzilla movies. At least one can't say it's dull.

Happy 40th anniversary!

1 comment:

  1. I love that one and have a quickly growing Hedorah collection.



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.