In 1954 with fears of nuclear annihilation feeding filmmakers hearts, it is no surprise Japan provided the most memorable monster of all.
The film begins with a series of mysterious freighter accidents. As attempts to determine the cause turn up no answers, an unseen threat is creeping towards Tokyo. This is, of course, our titular monster. Godzilla makes land and starts to terrorize the locals.
A lot is made of what Godzilla himself represents in the fears of the atomic age. Certainly, the dramatic images of Godzilla’s destruction evoke the horrors of Hiroshima. But when it comes to the fears of atomic weaponry, we see it in the character Serizawa-hakase, a scientist who stumbles upon the creation of a weapon so horrible, he dare not share it with the world. When it is discovered, he is called upon to provide it for stopping Godzilla…but is it worth the sacrifice?
While Godzilla is pretty obviously a man in a suit smashing miniatures, the storytelling is very effective and the characters compelling. Ishirô Honda tells a tale that overcomes the limitations. Which says a lot, considering this first incarnation of Godzilla is a bit bug eyed and flails like Donald Trump at a rally.