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The Original “Godzilla” Gets Rialto Restoration

60 years ago, the king of all monsters was born in Japan, with GOJIRA laying waste to not only the island country on screen, but its box office, becoming the highest grossing film of 1954.

Soon, Gojira, or Godzilla, would become a national icon and hero, and a staple of Japanese cinema thanks to its visionary company Toho. He skreeonked his way abroad, his radioactive exploits delighting kaiju fanatics across the globe. Timed perfectly with Gareth Edwards’ upcoming big, new blockbuster take (that can’t be any worse than the last 1999 attempt), coming May 16th, Rialto Pictures has teamed with Toho to give U.S. audiences the original GODZILLA the way they should have seen it.

The film is restored not just visually, but brings back the darker tone and black humor of its Japanese counterpart, bringing back footage that was butchered when GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS came to American soil in 1956. Come April 12th at the TCM Classic Film Festival in LA, fans will be able to see Toho’s original take on the monster, followed by a national release, kicking off in NY. Read on for more details on the exciting project, but before that, check out the exciting trailer:

A new restoration of GODZILLA: THE JAPANESE ORIGINAL, the monster classic that has spawned six decades of sequels, imitations, and remakes, will debut April 12 at the fifth TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, followed by a national release beginning at New York’s Film Forum, April 18-24.

GODZILLA was originally released here in 1956 as Godzilla: King of the Monsters, an atrociously cut, dubbed and re-edited version that inserted American actor Raymond Burr into the action; only an hour was used of the original’s 98 minute running time.  Burr does not appear in the original, uncut version, which has an all-Japanese cast including Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura, who the very same year appeared as leader of the Seven Samurai. 

Credit: Rialto Pictures

Credit: Rialto Pictures

The original GODZILLA holds up as one of the greatest science fiction/monster films ever made, boasting still-impressive special effects, as the radiation-breathing prehistoric monster, awakened after millennia by Hydrogen Bomb testing – and impervious to repeated shelling by the Japanese army – wreaks destruction on Tokyo. GODZILLA became Toho Studio’s #1 box office hit of 1954 (its #2 that year was Seven Samurai) and was so popular worldwide that the company has since produced nearly 30 sequels and remakes; a statue near Toho headquarters in Tokyo pays tribute to their most valuable property. In 1984, the prestigious film journal Kinema Junpo rated it among the top 20 Japanese films of all time. In 1989, a published survey of 370 Japanese movie critics, Nihon Eiga Besuto 150 (Best 150 Japanese Films), ranked Godzilla the 27th greatest Japanese feature ever made.

A new American version of Godzilla from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, directed by Gareth Edwards (2010’s Monsters), will be released nationally May 16.