Last post, I talked about using elements, both physical and conceptual, from the alternate cuts of Godzilla: Resurrection. While this approach greatly streamlined a film that was originally lopsided in its pacing and reinstated many fan-favorite changes made to the international and American cuts, I wanted to go deeper.
While Resurrection is, at its core, a hybrid cut, I quickly hit upon the idea during my analytical viewings of the film and its myriad versions of adding my own cuts and rearrangements, to bring the film closer to a subjective perfection that I always felt it deserved. In short, I wanted to add my own mark upon TROG by further cleaning up the editing, crafting a wholly different beast from other hybrid projects of this nature.
The majority of my contributions to the editorial feel of Resurrection are undoubtedly cuts. Several scenes in both TROG and G85, while undeniably necessary and worthy of inclusion, could certainly have benefited from a tighter cut. These range the gamut from cutting a subpar line from Okumura when he storms out on Goro after the publication of the photos of he and his sister, to tightening the action pieces of the elevated train attack and the Super X shelling. Even two Pentagon scenes from the American cut received a trimming, one to remove a frankly-incredulous line regarding the Presidential hotline being “down for repairs,” and the other to remove an equally-incredulous line referencing the violation of a UN space treaty–something the US happily does in Resurrection anyway.
Other changes to the editorial flow include the cutting of Goro’s early phone call to the mainland about the Yahata Maru (unnecessary to the plot), the rearrangement of several scenes of military preparedness for the arrival of Godzilla midway through the picture.
One small change that I am nonetheless proud of, having seen it in action, occurs after Hayashida muses on Godzilla’s relationship with mankind, and what he hopes to accomplish by sending the creature back into the earth through Mt. Mihara. In the original version, this scene immediately cuts to the American and Soviet ambassadors arriving in Tokyo–a clumsy cut in every sense of the word. With no clear demonstration of the passing of time, this rather loud transition from a nighttime monologue to blaring diplomatic music falls with a thud. I knew I had to do something about it.
My solution: insert two shots, one from earlier of the downtown district where Hayashida’s lab resides at night, and a piece of Tokyo stock footage in the daytime. Finding appropriate footage was not easy: the only stock video of Tokyo in the correct era of the 1980s I could find was in very low quality with a large time code burned into it, so I had to settle for modern-day footage and hope the anachronism went unnoticed. In the end, I think I accomplished what I set out to do with it: inserting a more recognizable passage of time that befits the political procedural feel of Hashimoto’s original film.
Another addition of mine, one I’m even more proud of, is more technical-related. In the original cut, the Soviets aren’t the only nation with nukes in space; one shot of an American nuclear missile satellite exists in the Japanese version, and this satellite is loaded for bear compared to its Russian counterpart.
As you can see, however, this shot is unfortunately plastered with another burned-in subtitle. Servanov’s EOST, which was immensely useful for helping me get rid of most of these, was no help here, as the only textless source of this shot came from an alternate take contained on the German DVD release. This take, apart from being in a lower resolution with blown-out contrast, also suffers from its starfield not moving in the first 5-10 frames or so. While it works for his cut in that the international version contained this alternate take, it wouldn’t do for mine.
Into After Effects I went, using the satellite element cut out of a still frame in Photoshop. From there, I added a custom starfield behind the sat, keyframed its motion, and then added a subtle gate weave to the sat itself to emulate the original shot. The result:
Not bad, eh? I think so.
One other change I feel like mentioning here is related to the audio mix. In both the original cut and G85, much of the scenes inside the lab building when Hayashida, Goro, and Naoko are trying to escape the rampage seemed a bit empty. If one watches the scene again, it’s easy to realize that this is because there is no ambient sound of Godzilla and the maser trucks–surely, a battle going on right outside the walls should be audible, especially if it’s shaking the building at times. So, I added in plenty of distant SFX to spruce up the scene. It really adds some tension, I think, and was one aspect my beta-viewers brought up often. I liked the effect so much, that I added some more later on when Tokyo braces for a nuclear explosion: the sound of nuclear attack sirens has now been layered into the film, from the first announcement after Godzilla falls unconscious all the way through to the explosion itself.
However, sometimes my own personal touch isn’t signified by what I add or cut, but what I leave in: several beta-viewers and others online have asked why I kept a crucial aspect of the Super X shelling the same as it was in the original cut, Godzilla uses his atomic ray after being attacked. G85 moved this to before the Super X opened fire, creating a more aggressive and territorial Godzilla that many fans seem to prefer. While that viewpoint has its merits, too many other instances of Godzilla’s hesitation to attack lead me to believe that Hashimoto’s and Nagahara’s intent was to portray Godzilla as more of a curious creature, one fascinated and perplexed by the modern world around him, enough to be more likely to barrel through it, taking hits like they were nothing, than to preemptively strike. It’s a portrayal that reminds me of Legendary’s take on the character, and one I decided in good faith to keep in.
After all, this is one of the major goals of the edit, to preserve the original intents and themes of the filmmakers. While G85 did a lot in streamlining a film saddled with pacing issues, it also wrecked its central message and replaced it with dismissive Americanized corporate entertainment. What I could use from G85 to improve the picture, I did, but this was never bound to be a straight hybrid. The Return of Godzilla deserves way more than that, I believe, and I hope I did it justice.
P.S. I actually just finished the timeline and made my first test render of the smaller MP4 version of the edit, so the final product is not too far off! I’ll be making adjustments based on little hiccups I saw on the test and then it will be time to start work on the subtitles.
Until then, stay tuned for more posts on this edit.