This month is Godzilla's 60th birthday. So, happy birthday Godzilla! And to honor the famous kaiju, here are ten things you may—or may not—know about the 'Zilla.
The following is gleaned from a Wall Street Journal feature on Godzilla. The whole piece is worth a read.
Without further delay, here goes:
1. The first Godzilla film was shot from August to October, which can get incredibly hot in Japan. Actor Haruo Nakajima, who played Godzilla, said he once stuck a thermometer in the suit and it was 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Akira Kurosawa was shooting The Seven Samurai at the same studio. He didn't say much about Godzilla per se, but Haruo Nakajima recalls that Kurosawa was "very curious" and would often check out the Godzilla production.
3. Initially, actor Akira Takarada didn't get the meaning of "Godzilla" ("Gojira" in Japanese) which is a combination of "gorilla" and "kujira" (Japanese for whale).
4. When Takarada arrived on set and announced he would be playing the lead, an engineer named Hideto Ogata, someone shouted that Godzilla was the film's lead.
5. The prototype suit weight 100 kilograms. A tweaked version got the weight down to 60 kilograms.
6. According to Takarada, the cast and crew agreed that Godzilla was a "sacred beast" sent from god to warn mankind about the horrors of nuclear weapons and war. Nakajima said that the fire that Godzilla spits represents the nuclear bomb, while Takarada added that the kaiju is also a victim of nuclear war.
7. Even with the tweaked suit, actor Haruo Nakajima could not move Godzilla's left arm in the suit. Thus, only the character's right arm was used to pick up things in the movie.
8. Godzilla's feet were made from remodelled rubber boots from Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market.
9. So Godzilla would not look vulnerable, suit actor Haruo Nakajima would never show the bottom of the character's feet while walking.
10. The outside of the Godzilla suit was made from a rubber material, but the inside was constructed from wire, paper, cloth, a lot of bamboo, and whatever else the special effects artists had around at the time that would work. Since bamboo is both strong and flexible, it is an ideal construction material.
The first Godzilla film opened in Japan on November 3, 1954. The movies were never the same again.
Top photo: Everett Collection via WSJ
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