The Symbolic Importance behind “Godzilla,” 1954 to Present

May 16, 2023

1954’s “Godzilla” is more than a film; it’s lesson to humanity about the dangers of nuclear power.

70,000 lives were claimed that day, 77 years ago in Hiroshima.

Nine years after the destructive power of the nuclear atomic bomb, Japan still suffered the trauma from the devastation it created.

The fallout inspired many stories of mass destructive metaphors, including the most famous metaphor of nuclear fallout of all time- Godzilla.

The inspiration for Godzilla itself began in the city of Hiroshima at 8:16 a.m. when the United States detonated an atomic bomb. The mass destruction claimed many lives and landmarks were destroyed. This was the bomb that would end WWII.

The bomb was hotter and brighter than the surface of the sun. The air was full of radiation which caused cancer for many people. But that wasn’t the only fallout of nuclear weapons.

On March 1, 1954, a small Japanese fishing boat named the “Lucky Dragon” was exposed to nuclear fallout from the United States Castle Bravo thermonuclear weapon test at Bikini Atoll. The fishermen didn’t even realize it until later. Once they found out that they were exposed to thermonuclear fallout, they contacted the coast guard and were found a few days later and sent to a hospital.

They suffered from diseases and severe burns on the skin, which would inspire the film Godzilla’s skin. 

Godzilla (Gojira-ゴジラ) was introduced to the world on Nov. 3, 1954, in Japanese cinemas. At the time, young kids saw Godzilla as a monster, but adults saw Godzilla as a metaphor for what happened in Hiroshima 9 years ago.

Godzilla’s overall lesson was to show the negative impact that nuclear weapons cause. Godzilla is a monster that is highly based on nuclear power, meaning  if a bomb was a living organism, it would be Godzilla. The point of Godzilla is to bring us together and not to use nuclear weapons again.

The latest Godzilla film, Shin Godzilla” from 2016, is actually based on the earthquake tragedy in 2011.

The earthquake was the most massive and destructive earthquake ever recorded in history. The earthquake only lasted for about six minutes, and there was an aftershock. A massive tsunami struck claiming even more lives. At one point, the tsunami hit a nuclear power plant that caused an outburst of nuclear fallout, having similar effects to the bomb itself.

Producer Hideki Anno based his version of Godzilla on this more recent tragedy rather than one that happened 77 years ago.

So the next time you see a Godzilla film,  just remember that he’s more than just a giant reptile. He represents the nuclear devastation that atomic bombs cause, and  if we keep testing nuclear weapons, something like Godzilla could appear, haunt the world, cause mass destruction and possibly wipe out humanity itself. 

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