Godzilla vs Hedorah ’s strength is that it doesn’t (wait for it…) recycle many ideas from previous movies, no aliens disguised as humans trying to invade earth, via Tokyo, for example. Visually Godzilla vs Hedorah stands out too. With lots of imaginative WTF moments, some finely crafted montages and visual trickery, it’s easily the most energetic and playful entry in the series. It contains a powerful message and, for a family movie, challenging imagery. It has both a point to make and manages to make it whilst staying true to its adventure-driven roots. That’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.
Yoshimitsu Banno wanted to do a movie about pollution, more specifically about a pollution monster. Unsurprisingly then, Hedorah is a play on the Japanese word for sludge or slime, hedoro. By the 1970’s Japan’s industrial practises were (like much of the cast) in full swing, waste and pollution the by-product of post-war economic development. The ‘save the earth’ theme music, written by Banno himself, was directly inspired by the influential American writer and marine biologist, Rachel Carson and her bestseller, Silent Spring, that documented the effects of pesticides on the environment. Hedorah represented not just a Japanese issue then but an international one. And the poor response Godzilla vs Hedorah received is also ironic given that Banno’s film has more in common with Tanaka and director Ishiro Honda’s 1954 original, Godzilla, with its overt political / environmental commentary, than any of the subsequent films….
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