I bought Godzilla again. The King of Monsters has been part of my collection since as long as I've been able to purchase copies of the movie. VHS versions of the classic Godzilla King of Monsters starring Raymond Burr, the only version of the movie I ever saw growing up and later the original Gojira when the Japanese version came available some years ago from Classic Media.
I've enjoyed the movie time and again and share it annually with my high school classes, prompted by the new "Monsterverse" movies which have been arriving on big screens since 2014. Yesterday I bought Godzilla yet again.
This time I got the Criterion Collection edition of the great 1954 classic by Ishiro Honda and his fantastic ensemble of creators who made this movie something special. Godzilla has become an iconic part of world culture, a monster who has been played for laughs, satire, and horror. The original film is a an emotionally moving masterpiece of all three. It's a terrifying image of war painted by people all too familiar with the reality of war, it's a potent satire of the consequences of human folly, and it's a moving character drama filled with romance, humor, and a grounded reality which makes the tumbling buildings and the exploding backgrounds all the more effective.
Also, there is a renewed respect for the American version of the movie and a sound argument made for it as a proper presentation all its own in its own time.
The new print is the cleanest I've ever seen and it was fantastic to enjoy it. The commentary was informative and performed with wit and focus, full of facts which I knew and some I didn't know. I read that more Toho classic monster films might be coming from Criterion, and I must make plans to acquire them. Though I own most all of them, it will be great to see them in something akin to what was the original intent.