Godzilla Vs. Hedora
Godzilla Vs. Hedora
Akira Yamauchi - Dr. Yano
Toshie Kimura - Toshie Yano
Hiroyuki Kawase - Ken Yano
Keiko Mari - Miki Fujiyama
Toshio Shiba - Yukio Keuchi
Eisaburo Komatsu - Fisherman
Haruo Nakajima- Godzilla/ Gojira
Kenpachiro Satsuma- Hedora
Tadashi Okabe - Scientist
Susumu Okabe - Interviewer
7/10. What to say about Godzilla Vs. Hedora..For some Godzilla fans it's one of the worst in the series, for others(like me) it's one of the best. One of the reasons I think it's so good is that it is really different from the others.
Hedora is a metaphor for the ecological state of our Earth, and here Godzilla is the good-guy, the positive force. I don't know why Tomoyuki Tanaka thinks that Yoshimitsu Banno ruined the Godzilla franchise, because this is an awesome movie with an important message. So, to sum it all up, this is my favorite Godzilla movie of the seventies, and should be included in any Godzilla collection. Not all will like it though.
Following on the heels of the abysmal Godzilla’s Revenge, (1969) Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971) remains one of the most controversial movies in Godzilla’s career, called a masterpiece by some, and a disaster by others.
Plot-wise, the film is a mixed bag, yet overall it does more right than wrong. On the plus side, it’s one of the few Godzilla films to adopt a strong degree of allegorical depth, rather than just the usual token speech. Like Godzilla, Hedorah is a symbolic monster, embodying the dangers of pollution. The reports of the number of people killed and injured is another plus, as this is something most kaiju films leave unsaid. There are also many references to Gojira (1954) throughout the film, such as Dr. Yanno’s resemblance to Dr. Serizawa after losing one eye, and a scene where fish in a tank are killed by Hedorah’s fumes, recalling the first demonstration of the oxygen destroyer. Like Gojira, Godzilla vs Hedorah shuns the usual ‘happy ending’ in favour of a darker, more pessimistic conclusion which reminds us, as Gojira did, that the problem the film addresses remains unsolved.
On the other hand, character development is rather weak, with little exploration of the protagonist’s backgrounds or personalities. The acting is passable, but none of the cast make much of an impression, though to be fair, they aren’t given much to work with.
The script and editing also result in some confusing plot points; for instance, it is never shown how Godzilla escaped the pit where Hedorah had him trapped.
The most infamous feature of the film is its weirdness. From allegorical cartoon segments to Godzilla flying, Godzilla vs Hedorah has countless unconventional touches which some find classic, and others irritating. While director Yoshimitsu Banno deserves some credit for trying something new and different, there are times when these touches become excessive and heavy-handed.
On the kaiju side of things, Hedorah is one of the most imaginative foes Godzilla has yet faced, and one of the few kaiju able give a real sense of menace. Godzilla, however, comes across as too cheesy, too suddenly, and wastes a lot of time gesturing and posturing, which in turn hurts the pacing of his fight scenes. Still, it is clear that this portrayal, while ineffective, is intentional, unlike in Mothra vs Godzilla, (1964) where the filmmakers try and fail to show Godzilla as a ruthless destroyer.
Godzilla vs Hedorah marks the series debut of Teruyoshi Nakano at the special effects helm, and as with most of his work, his efforts here are a mixed bag. The use of miniatures, mattes, and pyrotechnics are mostly well done, but the Hedorah suit looks far too dry for a creature composed of sludge, and the strings supporting its flying form are clearly visible as they catch the light during its transformations. Godzilla also suffers from some visual flaws, including a few occasions where the wire operating his tail is visible, and the distracting stiffness of the prop used to simulate his flight.
Fortunately, the various sludge, slime and smoke effects are excellent, though on the other hand, the rotoscoping effects, such as Godzilla ray and the electrical discharges, appear flat and unrealistic.
Like most aspects of the film, the musical score by Riichiro Manabe is an uneven affair.
While his eclectic themes suit the character of Hedorah perfectly, they don’t suit Godzilla at all. This further reduces the impact of Godzilla’s character, already weakened by his somewhat goofy portrayal. Also, the score is lacks variety, with almost all of its themes adopting the same shrill tone.
While it is guilty of a number of flaws, Godzilla vs Hedorah is still far from terrible, as its strong allegorical subtext, inspired villain and daring creativity partial make up for its shortcomings in character development, music and polish. Apparently, Godzilla series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka thought otherwise, and banned Banno from ever making another Godzilla film, saying that with Godzilla vs Hedorah he had “ruined Godzilla.” After Banno’s dismissal, the next two Godzilla films made, Godzilla vs Gigan (1972) and Godzilla vs Megalon (1973) would be two of the worst in the series. Compared to them, Godzilla vs Hedorah is a masterpiece.
Max’s verdict: 5/10