For quite a while now, Japan has been obsessed with Kaiju - which roughly translates as large monsters. It all started back in 1953, when Toho Studios stuck a guy in a rubber suit, and made a film about a huge enraged reptile trashing the Land of the Rising Sun. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Big Guy’s been destroying buildings ever since. And with a string of films behind him, he's been trying to smash box-office records, too. And even though a lot of the films sucked, their posters rocked!
We’ve pulled together a monster collection of ‘Zilla posters for this giant creature feature which looks at some of their designs. Enjoy.
With 28 Godzilla films made, through the years, three distinctly different series evolved. The Showa Series Godzilla (1954 - 1975), The Heisei Series Godzilla (1984 - 1995) and The Millennium Series (1999 - 2004). Here are our favourite posters from the original Showa film era, and if you look closely, you’ll see musical scores running along some of their edges which we assume to be the films’ theme-tunes.
Did you know Godzilla’s distinctive roar was made by rubbing a resin-coated glove on the strings of a contra basso? And that, due to a strange cult-popularity, it’s been trademarked by producers in every movie made since? And Godzilla's grating roar isn’t the only distinctive thing the films spawned - for instance, check out the unique stylised look of these Polish posters.
Godzilla opened in Japan’s theatres in 1953 (the same year as The Seven Samurai) and cost thirty-times more than the average Japanese production of that time. The film smashed the record in Tokyo for opening-day ticket sales, with 9.6 million people seeing it during its initial run. Given films today, it’s impossible to imagine how mind-blowing it must have been - but here are some posters that might give you a hint of what a spectacle it was.
We love the retro copy on these old posters. And if you think that Ambient Media is something new, take a look at this press-book for Gigantis (Godzilla’s Original Name), sent to theatres to help promote its release, and think again. Bazookas and flame-throwers in the auditorium as props? Gotta love those 50s Mad-Men.
The Rest of the World
When designing Godzilla, art director Akira Watanabe was inspired by illustrations he saw in an issue of Life magazine, and combined a T-Rex, an Iguanodon, a Stegosaurus, and an alligator to create something which, at the time, was so terrifying England labelled the films X-rated.
Modern Monster Designs
With the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings still fresh in Japan’s consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons. The texture of his skin was designed to resemble the keloid scars seen on the Hiroshima survivors - further emphasizing the beast’s relationship with the atomic bomb. And just like the bombs that lead to his creation, Godzilla was the new horror of the modern age.
The name Godzilla is a romanization of the Japanese word “Gojira”, which in turn is a portmanteau of the words, ‘Gorira’ (Gorilla) and Kujira (Whale). The original film was Japan’s very first ‘Daikaiju Eiga’ - or giant monster movie. After his creation, Godzilla became a cult figure of sorts and, as a result, there’s a wealth of fan-art dedicated to the beast. Here are some of our favourite examples from around the web.
The work of UK based artist Matt Needle. His website has a large collection of stunning movie-themed posters.
These posters are the work of Matt Reedy, and are based on monsters from Ultraman and Godzilla. He has some other work that is worth checking out too, like his He-Man themed sugar skulls.
Strife on Mars - Unknown Artist
Here's a poster for a fictional Godzilla movie starring David Bowie. A highly unlikely pairing, you might think - but not when you learn Godzilla has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and that in 1996 he won an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award.
JD Sketch is Justin Dial, an incredibly talented cartoon and character illustrator. When you're done admiring his Godzilla posters, check out his website My Pet Dinosaur for links to more amazing work.
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