Culture

Sleepless nights: Godzilla vs the Devil

By Sgathaich

Sgathaich Hallowe'enLong have we all seen those people saying what their all time favourite film is. American presidents seem to have a habit of saying a Western. For me the question caused a pause. Could it be Transformers The Movie, I do love the franchise and the music is as enjoyable as ever? But no it seems a bit off for that, perhaps something modern like the Lego Movie. Once again something I can watch over and over, yet I think I have yet to actually buy that on DVD. No it has to be something that is important to me, more than memorable. I realised some time ago, I didn’t have just one film that filled that category but two. The original Godzilla film Gojira, and Fantasia.

Given this series is talking about my relationship with the horror Genre you might find me talking about these 2 a bit odd?

GodzillaStarting with Gojira you perhaps are remembering those films from the Shōwa era, seeing Godzilla jumping up. Well the original film is very different; I have reviewed it before in fact. The original film is a dark serious story using the giant monster as a metaphor for the dangers of nuclear weapons. It is not some fear of the weapon on the other side but the fear of the weapon itself. The film plays as a horror/disaster movie not as some campy film. Sgathaich:Gojira/Godzilla

I was a fan of the Godzilla movies for a long time before I found the first film. I had fortunately seen the Heisei era, the late 80s and 90s era of films where people who grew up with the series came in charge and said “you know all those kiddy stuff, we hated that we wanted Godzilla to be scary again”. Finding the DVD I sat down to watch it and loved every minute. Here was Godzilla treated as a natural disaster, you couldn’t defend yourself, you couldn’t stop him. Weapons were useless and all he did was destroy indiscriminately.

At no point can I not say this is not a horror, right away ships begin disappearing, and even those ships sent to save them disappear too. Classic Godzilla music now takes on its original more chilling tone. The High point is Godzilla’s destruction of Tokyo. All the defences proved useless and the city turns to flames. A crying mother holding her children telling them they will see their father soon. I did say sci fi horror was used as a warning but here is something that is already here. It is no wonder why this film is considered the one that set off the giant monster films that followed.

Fantasia orchestraFantasia is harder to justify, what with the dancing hippos, fairies and Mickey… but then there is the final section. The Night on Bald Mountain is like nothing else in Disney, sure maybe the original depiction of Maleficent before they ruined her with live action but this is something else. A massive demon emerging from the top of the mountain in the dead of night, casts a shadow over the town below and draws forth all sorts of wicked spirits. Then the demons in his shadow all revel as he exerts his overwhelming power. All kinds of wicked beings flying about and dancing in shadow and flames. All this done to excellent classical music. Sgathaich: Fantasia

Though today some people call him Chernabog… It’s the devil, come on everyone it’s clearly just meant to be the devil. I fear that calling him Chernabog now is much like what they did to Maleficent and try to make them seem less sinister. The toning down of those early days meaning we shall never see the likes of Night on Bald Mountain ever again in the modern era. And yet the piece is one I will watch time and time again, more so than any other sequence.

While not horror in the sense of fear, the imagery of the demons and horrors draws from the classical depictions of monsters and devils. The devil himself shown as a powerful force toying with the lives of his minions for his own amusement, summoning forth this dancing horde only seemingly to torment them.

And yet, the as the sun rose, this all powerful being was powerless, his horrors delved back into the shadows and even he himself had to retreat, powerless to stop it. And below the songs of man began to rise up as light covered all the eye saw.

This duality of light and dark is one feature that I feel is often lost in some horror movies. Even Godzilla was felled in the end, though it took the sacrifice of a man who understood the dangers of what he was unleashing. Mayhaps this is why these films are my favourites. For although the monsters are vastly more powerful than many you would see in the likes of a slasher film, even they can be stopped but not though some silly strength of arms but by the best of mankind be it the sacrifice of wise men, or the faith of the Everyman. Sometimes my sleepless nights are not out of fear but my own pondering of my own mind.

Sgathaich Hallowe'en

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