Whenever I have a discussion about the Godzilla films with some one, every time I bring up evidence about the significance of Godzilla films in the Japanese movie industry (such as Kurosawa/Honda connection, the large budgets of the early Godzilla films, the presence of acclaimed Japanese actors in these films, Ifukube's stature, etc.), the opposing party just ups and leaves.
Is the shock of discovering that Godzilla films are "genetically" related to Akira Kurosawa films too much for the average US film goer to handle?
Take a look at this comment:
Honestly, I don't mind if Godzilla movies are seen as cheap and cheesy because they are. I do, however mind that they dismiss them because of that. What kind of film snobs dismiss these movies because they're cheesy? Do we have to sit and watch an Oscar winner all the time? No. I can't stand half that crap they nominate.
Godzilla movies, with the exception and Gojira and Return of Gojira, are escapist movies. Now, they do have their charm. I've cried at the end of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, so they're definitely not without merit. Honestly, I watch the dubbed version because I do like the cheesiness factor they add. Granted, that's not to say I'm opposed to watching the subtitled versions, but as an American fan, I like seeing them with silly voices. It doesn't take anything away from the movies in my mind. I don't know, I can't explain it. I have watched some subtitled. By the way, it's the main reason I like Godzilla vs. Gigan more than other Godzilla fans because the monsters never spoke in the Japanese version, but I was prewarned about that before watching it. No, it's not one of the better ones, but I liked it.
Anyway, I do agree that Americans need to give them another chance. I was reintroduced to the films by the Angry Video Game Nerd. I saw his reviews on the Godzilla movies and thought they looked cool, so I decided to check them out.
and my reply:
But you're not familiar with the Japanese actors as much as Japanese viewers are. For those of us who are familiar with these actors and admire their true performances, we find it incomprehensible that anyone could want to screw up their voices to the extent that they do. What about Yoshio Tsuchiya, who got started in several productions with Akira Kurosawa? Did you even blink when he appeared in Godzilla vs. King Ghidora?And...no response from anyone. I don't even get a simple "Hmm...I didn't know that. Thanks for the info. However, I don't think it really matters because...blah blah blah." Instead the thread goes dead and the opposing user continues to write biased misinformed comments about these films on other threads.
For crying out loud, he even wrote a biography on Kurosawa which a lot of fans of Japanese cinema wholeheartedly admire:
Did you know this? Probably not. But given that this man has earned his fair share of merits and accolades from critics and scholars in his own home country, why the hell should we be so quick to dismiss his presence JUST because he's acting in a Godzilla film?
It's like Gary Oldman playing a part in that less than great film, The Unborn. It's the same situation--an A-grade actor in a B-grade film. Sure a lot of people disliked the movie, but everyone was quick to point out Gary Oldman's presence in it; because he's a great actor and can't be ignored.
Imagine if a studio had the guts to dub him over with a trashy voice...fans and critics would be outraged as it definitely take away from what little impact the film had.
Likewise, why should the situation be the same for Yoshio Tsuchiya? Almost all American Godzilla fans I have met NEVER point out Yoshio Tsuchiya's presence in a Godzilla movie. They are BLIND to the native talent that make up these films.
Same for the other actors too. What about Takashi Shimura, whom the New York Times once proclaimed as "the greatest actor ever"? Why does nobody mention his presence in the Godzilla films?
What about Eisei Amamoto, a very versatile character actor from the 60's with a wonderfully deep voice and sinister complexion who played in TONS of Japanese productions. Why would anyone have the nerve to screw over his performance just so ignorant English speakers can get kicks out of listening to a badly dubbed voice?
I could go on and on. But the point is, ignorance has caused the general American public to ignore the positive traits of these films and to approach them with a "cheesy, good fun" outlook easily forgetting the fact that they were produced by the same studio that produced many different critically acclaimed A+ Japanese films, and featured much of the same talent behind the camera.
If people would only ACKNOWLEDGE the aforementioned talent behind the camera, then I would be satisfied. But that will never be...because ignorance is widespread and the cultural gap separating the Japanese and American viewing public is too large.
I guess that means that I've proven my point then without controversy.