|Date of Release:|| November 3, 1954 (Japan)|
September 13, 1965 (U.S.)
|Followed by:||Godzilla Raids Again|
Godzilla is a 1954 Japanese science fiction Kaiju film produced by Toho. Directed by Ishirō Honda and featuring special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, the film starred Akira Takarada, Momoko Kōchi, Akihiko Hirata and Takashi Shimura. The plot tells the story of Godzilla, a giant monster mutated by nuclear radiation who ravages Japan, bringing back the horrors of nuclear devastation to a country that experienced it first hand. It was the first of many Kaiju films released in Japan, paving the way and setting the standard for the genre and future Kaiju films, many of which feature Godzilla.
When a Japanese fishing boat is attacked by a flash of light near Odo Island, another ship is sent to investigate only to meet the same fate, with only a few surviving. On Odo Island, a village elder blames their poor fishing on a sea monster known as "Godzilla" and recalls that in earlier times native girls were sacrificed to appease the giant sea monster. Word gets out and a helicopter arrives on the island with curious, but skeptical, reporters. Frightened natives perform a night-time ceremony to keep the monster away. However, that night, while the natives sleep, a storm arrives and something else comes with it, bringing death and destruction. And a boy sees the cause during the midst of the destruction.
The next day, witnesses arrive in Tokyo. Archeologist Kyohei Yamane suggests that investigators be sent to the island. On arrival, Yamane finds giant radioactive footprints, and a trilobite. When an alarm sounds, the villagers arm themselves with sticks and various weapons and run to the hills, only to be confronted by Godzilla, who is revealed to be an enormous dinosaurian creature. After a quick skirmish, the villagers run for safety and Godzilla heads to the ocean.
Dr. Yamane returns to Tokyo to present his findings and concludes that Godzilla was unleashed by a nuclear explosion. Some want to conceal that fact, fearing international repercussions. Others say the truth must be revealed. They prevail and Godzilla's origins are announced to the public. Ships are sent with depth charges to kill the monster. When that fails, Godzilla appears again, frightening patrons on a party boat, and causing nationwide panic. Officials appeal to Dr. Yamane for some way to kill the monster, but Yamane wants him kept alive and studied.
Meanwhile, Emiko, Yamane's daughter, decides to break off her arranged engagement to Yamane's colleague, Daisuke Serizawa, because of her love for Hideto Ogata, a salvage ship captain. Before she can do that, Serizawa tells her about his secret experiment. He gives a small demonstration, using a fish tank in the lab. Shocked, Emiko is sworn to secrecy and never gets a chance to break off the engagement. That night Godzilla climbs from Tokyo Bay and attacks the city. Though the attack is over quickly, there is much death and destruction. The next morning, the army constructs a line of 40-meter electrical towers along the coast of Tokyo that will send 50,000 volts of electricity through Godzilla, should he appear again. Civilians are evacuated from the city and put into bomb shelters. As night falls, Godzilla does indeed attack again. He easily breaks through the electric fence, melting the wires with his atomic breath. A bombardment of shells from the army tanks has no effect. Godzilla continues his rampage until much of the city is destroyed and thousands of civilians are dead or wounded. Godzilla descends unscathed into Tokyo Bay, despite a squadron of fighter jets' last-ditch attack.
The next morning finds Tokyo in ruins. Hospitals overflow with victims, including some with radiation poisoning. Emiko witnesses the devastation and tells Ogata about Serizawa's secret Oxygen Destroyer, a device that disintegrates oxygen atoms and organisms die of asphixiation. Thus, a new energy source he accidentally created. She hopes together they can persuade Serizawa to use it to stop Godzilla. When Serizawa realizes Emiko betrays his secret, he refuses, and Ogata and Serizawa fight and Ogata receives a minor head wound. As Emiko treats Ogata's wound, Serizawa apologizes, but he refuses to use the weapon on Godzilla, citing the public bedlam his weapon could cause. Then a newscast shows the devastation Godzilla has caused. Choirs of children are shown singing a hymn. Finally realizing this, Serizawa decides he will use the weapon only one time and then its secret must be destroyed for the good of humanity. He then burns all his papers and research. Emiko breaks down and cries when she sees this, as she understands that Serizawa is sacrificing his life's work and himself to stop Godzilla.
A navy ship takes Ogata and Serizawa to plant the device in Tokyo Bay. They don diving gear and descend into the water, where they find Godzilla at rest. Ogata returns to the surface as Serizawa activates the device. Serizawa watches as Godzilla dies then tells Ogata to be with Emiko. He then cuts his own oxygen cord, sacrificing himself so his knowledge of the device cannot be used to harm mankind. A dying Godzilla surfaces, lets out a final roar, and sinks to the bottom, disintegrating until he is nothing but bones, and eventually, nothing.
Although the monster is gone, those aboard ship are still grim. They do not know if the death of Godzilla is the end or the beginning of an apocalyptic era. Godzilla's death has come at a terrible price and Dr. Yamane believes that if mankind continues to test nuclear weapons, another Godzilla may appear.