Get ready for twice the giant monster devastation this year. In advance of Sony’s big budget reboot of the iconic monster movie franchise, Rialto has announced that they are bringing the original Godzilla back to American shores, specifically, a restored edition of the 1954 original Japanese film.
The film will premier at TCM’s Classic Film Festival in Hollywood on April 12, before moving on to the Film Forum in New York City for a week’s run from April 18-24. From there it will go to a number of other cities across the US. Rialto’s website has the schedule.
Please note, that this is the original version of Godzilla, not the 1956 version that was released in the US which featured scenes with actor Raymond Burr as an American reporter and which trimmed some scenes that carried the film’s anti-war, anti-atomic weapons theme.
While the franchise as a whole is probably more thought of as a series of low-budget, Saturday afternoon kiddie fare, the original 1954 Godzilla is much more serious and dark. Having seen the original many times myself, I can attest that it is not only a classic genre film, but also one of the most important Japanese films of the post-World War Two era, encapsulating the country’s shock and horror at being the only nation to be on the receiving end of an attack with atomic weaponry with director Ishiro Honda exploring those feelings through the film.
This is not the first time that Rialto has brought the original Godzilla to American audiences. The company released the film in the US in 2004 for the franchise’s 50th anniversary, debuting as the headline attraction for a month-long Toho monster movie retrospective at the Film Forum.
Classic Media released the film on DVD in 2006, the first in an unfortunately short-lived series of wonderful presentations of Toho’s classic monster films on DVD. Criterion released a high-definition digital restoration of the film on DVD and blu-ray in 2012. It is not known if Rialto’s new release is from the same restoration that Criterion presented, though I would not be surprised if it were. Rialto has released a teaser trailer of sorts, but it doesn’t feature any real footage form the film to judge.