Tuesday, August 21, 2007


If you're a Lost or Alias fan, you may have heard of J. J. Abrams's upcoming feature film. Just like Lost, it's very mysterious; they haven't even revealed the title yet, only the release date. I can't help but be a little bit curious. The teaser opens with a going-away party, filmed with a handheld camera. It becomes apparent that a young man is leaving his home in New York to travel to Japan. Later, strange noises are heard, and we soon witness an attack on New York. The same shaky camera films people fleeing an unexplainably large explosion, one passerby screaming "It's alive!"

The parallels with Godzilla are glaringly obvious. Some kind of monster attacking a city, and even an overt reference to Japan. Although the film is said not to be a sequel or remake of any previous film, and thus is not an actual Godzilla film, could this become the American spiritual brethren of Godzilla?

Godzilla is an iconic figure. It's a monster created by nuclear testing during World War II, and thus represents the atomic warfare of the USA. An atomically mutated monster destroying Tokyo must be a very powerful image to the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and maybe a way to cope with the painful memories. That might explain the success of the Godzilla series, with 28 films to date. That might also explain why Americans weren't so hot on the 1998 US remake of Godzilla, with two planned but cancelled sequels. They simply didn't relate to the movie at all. In '98, there hadn't been an attack on US soil in modern times. Now there has.

The terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 still lingers in the collective memory of the American populace, perhaps by now dulled to a nagging fear of the unknown. I'm assuming that explains the unknown and mysterious nature of the threat in Abrams's film, the choice of handheld cameras to mirror the shocking footage of 9/11, and finally the head of the Statue of Liberty being chopped clean off her shoulders during the attack. Abrams's monster is a symbol of terrorism attacking American values. It's certainly something that Americans can relate to, and much like Adam Sandler's character in Reign Over Me playing Shadow of the Colossus to come to terms with his experience of 9/11, so may the US adopt Abrams's monster as its very own Godzilla.

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