It’s been about two months since I started this edit. And what a ride it has been.
I’ve faced difficulty at every turn on this one. First there was the creation of the new prologue, which I restarted several times after becoming fed up with whatever current direction it was taking. And then the ripping process itself, and the creation of the separate audio tracks needed to undertake the new stereo mix. I originally bungled this by neglecting the audio mix entirely, working from compressed mp3 stems. I guess you can you say I’ve got the skills of a novice.
Actually, you can say that. This is my first fan edit.
I grew up watching Godzilla 1985 (heretofore known as G85). All throughout those years, I knew I loved the film as one of the best of the Godzilla series, but there was also another thing I owned that always made me wonder about the original cut: the Dark Horse English translation of the manga adaptation, known in the States as Terror of Godzilla. When I first encountered it, I had yet to see G85 or even come to acquire a basic understanding of the Godzilla film continuity, so to me it was just another (cool) Godzilla story. And then I saw G85, and was instantly both confused and intrigued; Terror of Godzilla played almost exactly as this movie, but with a lot of quirky differences. I think it’s safe to say that I was introduced to the concept of alternative versions of films through Terror of Godzilla.
As I grew, TROG became somewhat of a holy grail to me. With its unavailability on the American market and limited presence in even piracy circles, it felt like an eternity before I was finally able to view it in any kind of passable form. When I finally did, it took a few viewings before I finally appreciated it for what it was–a well-structured political procedural film, with its various crises built around the presence of a giant, radioactive monster. Unlike G85, TROG was a brilliant exercise in mounting tension, with each predicament, governmental or natural, flowing from the last organically, providing every character with ample opportunities to define themselves through struggle. Instantly, I could see why this original version was superior to what the American editors had created; all they could see was a monster mash, while Hashimoto was building Godzilla back up into a force of Nature that mankind would have to reckon with.
Still, G85 had a few advantages. There are numerous examples where the pacing of specific scenes are substantially improved by a tighter cut, such as the attack of the Shockilas upon Goro Maki. In TROG, this scene is almost laughable, with an incredibly fake and immobile puppet slowly rolling on the floor towards Goro, who seems to have nothing to fear from this lump of rubber. In G85 however, the scene is shortened by almost a full minute, turning two or three different attacks and dodges between the two combatants into a single, rapid piece of culluloid violence that preserves the shock factor of a giant sea louse suddenly appearing behind our main character.
Some scenes are also improved with the new score additions by New World Pictures, which were sourced from a film called Def-Con 4. These selections by Christopher Young actually blend very well into the original score by Reijiro Koroku.
But by far, the additions most everyone remembers are the newly-shot Pentagon scenes starring Raymond Burr as the Steve Martin character from King of the Monsters. While not really adding to the plot in any significant way and stuffed with dismissive American Cold War humor, Steve Martin’s presence within them lends the film a sense of continuity with its past, and Burr’s performance is haunting in a handful of scenes.
Taking all of this into account, one gets the sense that arguments could be made supporting both versions. Which leads me to this edit: while ostensibly a straight hybrid cut, as you will see over the coming weeks, there’s a lot more going on under the surface. Obviously, there’s my new title screen and prologue sequence, but also some of my own interpretations of certain sequences like the Super X shelling or the end sequence of Godzilla falling into Mt. Mihara. These not only serve to provide myself some much-needed editing experience, not only to leave my mark upon one of my favorite Godzilla films, but to hopefully bring it up to the same level, at least in the eyes of American audiences, of some of their favorite pieces of cinema from the period. Films from that decade and immediately prior, like All the President’s Men, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Trilogy, The Hunt for Red October; all of these films serve as my inspiration on this project.
The end goal will be to create an alternative “export” version, a what-if international cut that posits a collaboration between the American and Japanese creative teams to preserve the original intents of Tanaka, Hashimoto, and Nagahara, with changes to improve the pacing sound design, along with some speculative additions more in tune with the current era, such as the preservation of the Japanese performances through the use of subtitles instead of a dub.
I think more than anything, this is my mantra while crafting Resurrection; not to “fix” the film, but to give it an extra bump or boost, to allow it to stand aesthetically alongside the best of the ’80s sci-fi output as I know it does thematically. In short, I want to “resurrect” The Return of Godzilla, so that it can experience, even if only the eyes of a few dozen, a new apex of popularity.
I know, I sound absolutely crazy. And maybe I am.
But so was Jodorowsky, and he made The Holy Mountain.