It's a clash of the titans this week, as The Unenthusiastic Critic sits down for her first viewings of two cinematic classics: King Kong (1933) and Godzilla (1954).
With Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) about to drop in theaters and on HBO, Michael thought it was a good time to introduce Nakea to the original appearances of these two venerable movie stars. Both films teem with subtext: The original Kong is a masterpiece of movie craft from special-effects pioneer Willis O'Brien, put in service of a questionable narrative about colonialist plundering and white supremacist fears. Meanwhile, Honda Ishiro's original Japanese version of Godzilla—unlike its more familiar American edit—turns out to be a surprisingly solemn and powerful working through of Japan's national trauma and fears following the Second World War.
But I think we all really understand is that there's only one important issue: Who'd win in a fight?
0:00: Prologue: from Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
01:11: Cultural Osmosis: Pre-Viewing Discussion of King Kong
17:07: Interlude: from King Kong (1933)
17:42: The Verdict I: Post-Viewing Discussion of King Kong
56:35: Interlude: from Godzilla (2014)
56:49: Cultural Osmosis: Pre-Viewing Discussion of Godzilla
1:04:48: Interlude: from the trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956)
1:05:37: The Verdict I: Post-Viewing Discussion of King Kong
1:30:07: Outro and Next Week's Movie
Notes and Links
—Movies Reviewed: King Kong (dir. Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack, RKO, 1933) and Godzilla (dir. Honda Ishiro, Toho, 1954).
—Movies Quoted: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956), Kong vs. Godzilla (1963), Godzilla (2014).
—Links and Sources: "Origin of 'Kong': The Unbelievable True Backstory of Hollywood's Favorite Giant Ape," Ray Morton, The Hollywood Reporter; "The Monkey and the Metaphor: What Every King Kong Movie Is Really About," Nathan Rabin, Vanity Fair; Godzilla on My Mind: 50 Years of the King of Monsters, William Tsutsui; 'Godzilla' Director Honda Ishiro Describes Seeing Hiroshima Firsthand In New Criterion Release, Andrew Whelan, Newsweek; Godzilla review by Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com; Godzilla review by Mark Savlov, Austin Chronicle; "Godzilla: Poetry After the A-Bomb," J. Hoberman, Criterion; "Godzilla’s Conscience: The Monstrous Humanism of Ishiro Honda," Steve Ryfle, Criterion; "Why You Should Watch the (Actual) Original Godzilla," Christopher Orr, The Atlantic.
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