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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


(aka 'Gojira' or 'Godzilla')

Directed by Ishirô Honda
Japan 1954

Godzilla (a.k.a. Gojira) is the roaring granddaddy of all monster movies. It’s also a remarkably humane and melancholy drama, made in Japan at a time when the country was reeling from nuclear attack and H-bomb testing in the Pacific. Its rampaging radioactive beast, the poignant embodiment of an entire population’s fears, became a beloved international icon of destruction, spawning almost thirty sequels. A thrilling, tactile spectacle that continues to be a cult phenomenon, the original, 1954 Japanese version is presented here, along with Godzilla, King of the Monsters, the 1956 “Americanized” version.

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Nuclear tests awaken an ancient monster from its slumber at the bottom of the ocean. It rises to wreak havoc on Tokyo. The original classic monster movie from Japan

Considering its reputation and the variable character of the franchise it spawned, the original Godzilla is a pretty sobering film. Many will be familiar with Godzilla from the later stuntmen in rubber suits fisticuffs, or the ridiculous Hanna-Barbara cartoon series from 1978. Even if they have seen the first film, originally released in 1954, it's likely to have been the American version, which consisted of the Japanese film trimmed substantially and altered by the inclusion of new scenes featuring Raymond Burr as an American reporter.

In the original Japanese cut, the theme of atomic weapons testing and the dangers of weapons of mass destruction is more explicit. The film opens with the crew of a freighter in the Sea of Japan suddenly being dazzled by a blaze of bright light. Within seconds, their ship bursts into flame and is lost. A second ship is soon lost in the same area, and a third. There's understandable panic in the shipping office and across the nation, reflected in a series of anxious newspaper headlines.

Meanwhile, on the island of Odo, the locals are starting to argue. "I'm sure something terrible is happening... It must be Godzilla," says one. "Godzilla? That's just a legend." The legend soon proves to be based on truth, however, when a 40 metre tall monster suddenly makes it presence felt, looming over a hilltop.

Excerpt from Channel 4 HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 3rd, 1954 - Tokyo

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Comparison:

BFI - Region 2 - PAL vs. Sony Wonder (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL LEFT

2) Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray Criterion - spine # 594
Region ' A' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:32:06 (4% PAL speedup) 1:35:45 1:35:53.047 1:36:29.658
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.78 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.21 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080i / 29.970 fps Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size:  29,732,499,456 bytes

Feature: 20,324,831,232 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,216,261,035 bytes

Feature: 20,154,869,760 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  BFI

Bitrate: Sony Wonder

Bitrate: Classic Media Blu-ray

Bitrate: Criterion Blu-ray

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)  Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0) LPCM Audio Japanese 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, None English, None English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Voiceover Commentary By Three American Godzilla Experts
• Japanese Fishermen Documentary
• The Making Of The Godzilla Suit Featurette
• The Adaptation From Original Short Story To Finished Film Featurette
• Original Japanese Trailer
• Original Posters
• Stills Gallery
• 16-page liner notes booklet

DVD Release Date: February 13th, 2006

Premium bookstyle thick case
Chapters: 15

Release Information:
Studio: Sony Wonder

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Voiceover Commentary By Three American Godzilla Experts
• The Making Of The Godzilla Suit Featurette

• The Adaptation From Original Short Story To Finished Film Featurette
• Original Japanese Trailer
• US version with commentary
• 16-page liner notes booklet

DVD Release Date: September 5th, 2006

Premium bookstyle thick case
Chapters: 24

Release Information:
Studio: Classic Media

1080i / 29.970 fps Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size:  20,324,831,232 bytes

Feature: 29,732,499,456 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Voiceover Commentary By Three American Godzilla Experts
• The Making Of The Godzilla Suit Featurette

• The Adaptation From Original Short Story To Finished Film Featurette
• Original Japanese Trailer

Blu-ray Release Date: September 22nd, 2009
Standard
Blu-ray case
Chapters: 24
 

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,216,261,035 bytes

Feature: 20,154,869,760 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary for both movies by film historian David Kalat

• New high-definition digital restoration of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Terry Morse’s 1956 reworking of the original (1:20:53 in 1080P) with optional commentary
• New interviews with actors Akira Takarada (12:58 in 1080i) and Haruo Nakajima (9:48 in 1080i) and special effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai (30:08 in 1080i)
• Interview with legendary Godzilla score composer Akira Ifukube (50:43 in 1080i)
• Featurette detailing Godzilla’s photographic effects, introduced by special effects director Koichi Kawakita and special effects photographer Motoyoshi Tomioka (9:05 in 1080i)
• New interview with Japanese-film critic Tadao Sato (14:05 in 1080i)
• The Unluckiest Dragon, an illustrated audio essay featuring historian Greg Pflugfelder describing the tragic fate of the fishing vessel Daigo Fukuryu Maru, a real-life event that inspired Godzilla (9:38 in 1080P)
• Trailers for Godzilla and Godzilla, King of the Monsters (2:56)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic J. Hoberman

 

Blu-ray Release Date: January 24th, 2012
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 23

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Collection - Region 'A' Blu-ray - December 11':

The Criterion Blu-ray is progressive and looks more detailed than the Classic Media 1080i transfer which also suffers from some boosting and appears horizontally stretched as well as exhibiting the 'combing' phenomenon. Some scratches appear different on the editions. Where the Classic media version may have removed some of the light scratches via their brightness boosting - they remain on the Criterion. The Criterion is easily the best visual presentation but there are plenty of marks and scenes with extensive scratches that reflect the source. The Criterion might be marginally cropped on the right edge but overall it is insignificant. I doubt this Criterion image will be bested without a very expensive, total, restoration.

Criterion also offer the imperfect audio in lossless with a linear PCM track - but it is in authentic mono1.0 channel at 1152 kbps. It sounds surprisingly dynamic with Godzilla's noisy growls sounding intense and deep. It was impressive although much of the dialogue belies the relative weakness of the source. I'd say though that it added another nostalgic layer to the presentation. The Japanese dialogue is supported by optional English subtitles - also included in the shorter English-language version. The Blu-ray is region 'A'-locked.

Criterion supply an audio commentary for both the original feature and a new high-definition digital restoration of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Terry Morse’s 1956 shorter (1 hour 20-minute) reworking of the original by film historian David Kalat. Kalat is informative and fills the allotted time with keen insights into the Mother of all Japanese monster movies. We get a bunch of new interviews - produced by Criterion. These involve actors Akira Takarada (12:58 in 1080i) and Haruo Nakajima (9:48 in 1080i) and special effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai (30:08 in 1080i) as well as an interview with legendary Godzilla score composer Akira Ifukube (50:43 in 1080i) and Japanese-film critic Tadao Sato (14:05 in 1080i). There is a solid featurette detailing Godzilla’s photographic effects, introduced by special effects director Koichi Kawakita and special effects photographer Motoyoshi Tomioka (9:05 in 1080i). The Unluckiest Dragon, is an illustrated audio essay featuring historian Greg Pflugfelder describing the tragic fate of the fishing vessel Daigo Fukuryu Maru, a real-life event that inspired Godzilla. It runs almost 10-minutes in 1080P. There are a trailers for Godzilla and Godzilla, King of the Monsters plus the package contains a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic J. Hoberman.

The Criterion Blu-ray is easily the definitive release for the classic film. The package has some viable supplements including the impressive commentary and we can strongly recommended this digital release to any fans of the film.

***

 

ADDITION Classic Media Blu-ray - August 2009: Woooow - STOP THE PRESSES! - This is certainly a letdown. Firstly - described on Amazon as 'Classic Media' it seems to be a 'Genius Products' release - aka Weinstein.

This Blu-ray transfer is 1080i (interlaced). It has had no discernable cleanup and is filled with the same damage marks as the DVD. It is NOT at all smooth in motion and Kevin's complaints below still seem very valid.

This is a big disappointment. The interlacing leaves 'combing' visible throughout and it barely looks as sharp as the DVD edition but it doesn't even offer the 'U.S. version on the single-layered Blu-ray disc (How hard could that have been?). Contrast is muddy and soft - nothing is as well defined as one might hope.

Audio comes in the form of original Japanese linear PCM 2.0 channel at 1536 kbps. It might be the best thing about the release. Godzilla's 'roar' sounds as menacing and deep as it ever has. There are optional English subtitles. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

Extras contain the commentary from the older DVDs. This is great but nothing new. We also get the same Making Of The Godzilla Suit Featurette, The Adaptation From Original Short Story To Finished Film Featurette and an original Japanese trailer.

With all my complaints, it still looked pretty good on my system - better than the DVD but I suggest many people will want to cancel their pre-orders of this title on Blu-ray. The damage seems even more prevalent in 1080, contrast fluctuates and there are terrible jump cuts because of damage. No work has been put into Godzilla since the DVD came out. Perhaps we can hope that the BFI or Criterion render this title onto Blu-ray. It would certainly be superior.  

***


 

ADDITION: Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC DVD September 06' - The new Sony Wonder package is a bit of a disappointment - it is interlaced and filled with combing - it has boosted in both black levels and brightness as well as being marginally cropped on all 4 edges. The subtitles are a disgusting yellow. The Sony appears to show more damage but it has a purer contrast (regardless of the manipulation) - next to the BFI, the PAL edition seems to have a greenish haze.

The packaging and many other attributes are the same as the BFI PAL edition, but they have also added the US version with Burr on a puny single-layered 2nd disc. I am still examining the differences and will report back here after I am complete. My initial reaction is that I prefer the BFI.

NOTE (sent in email):

'I'm a big fan of DVDBeaver and just read your comparison between the Sony Wonder and BFI DVD releases of the original Gojira. I thought I'd point out another problem with the Sony release (other than those you already listed in your review) that has bugged me from the moment I first watched it. For whatever reason, the print on the Region 1 DVD has 3 new digital transitions incorporated that replace the scene transitions originally appearing in the film. The first and last are noticeable, but liveable - the second cuts Ifukube's cue for the scene and strikes me as being rather jarring to watch.

All of the new transitions are in the opening bit of the film - the first is the transition between the Eiko Maru's wake and the first shot of the sailors on deck; the second is between the shot of the radio tower (just after Eiko Maru is set afire) and the radio room of the Nankai shipping company; the third is the transition between the chart of the Japan sea in the Nankai control room and the shot of the Bingo Maru. Most of the people I've spoken with concerning this think I'm just nitpicking, but when I buy a DVD advertised as featuring the complete Japanese version of the film the complete Japanese version of the film tends to be what I expect. I plan on picking up the BFI release in the near future as it sounds to be superior to Sony's release.' (Thanks Kevin)

***

NOTE: We have added two comparison captures with the Australian edition which contains both the original Japanese and American versions on the same side, hence there are many artefact and 'combing' problems with that release.

***

Excellent release from BFI... one of their best yet. The packaging starts with a beautifully appointed book-style case (same as the special case for the Carlton edition of The Red Shoes). The image quality is far better than I anticipated. Minor scratches and damage throughout  but an exceptionally sharp and clear image with very good, if occasionally flickering, contrast. This is a progressive transfer in the correct aspect ratio with excellent removable subtitles. I did notice an occasional gap in the translation, but it was usually for short, brief exclamations or comments. Audio is very strong and consistent.

The commentary is fabulous from discussing the 'dreaded American version with insert scenes of Raymond Burr' to the youthful 43-year old director Honda who had less experience than some of his cast. It is very thorough and complete - these guys really know their Godzilla trivia. The other extras are very relevant and the included booklet is a real keepsake with color photos, cast and crew bios and a short essay by Ian Buruma. Overall, I know many are glad that this prolific-spawning pioneer film is available on DVD in such a dynamic and complete package. Bravo BFI!   

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus

 

(BFI - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)


Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Box Cover

Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL Sony Wonder - Region 1 - NTSC Classic Media - Region FREE - Blu-ray Criterion - spine # 594
Region ' A' -
Blu-ray




 

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