How pop culture’s meanest and biggest monster is serving as a reflection of our troubled times.
Words by Ferdinand Godinez
Long before the influx of comic book-inspired superheroes and villains hit theatres, monster movies reigned supreme.
While it’s easy to dismiss these creatures – from King Kong to the resurrected dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park series – as just pure size and brute, a deeper analysis reveals that there’s more to these other-worldly creatures than meets the eye.
“The essence of a monster film is that there are things in this world that man simply can’t control and that trying to control or remove these things can have dire consequences,” author David Breitenbeck noted in The Federalist.
“This theme carries over from the original kaiju films (a Japanese genre featuring giant monsters), which repeatedly emphasised that tampering with the natural order is a very bad idea, one that carries unpredictable and horrible consequences, however good the intentions.”
No film in the genre perhaps best represents this analogy than Godzilla, the legendary prehistoric sea monster that first emerged in pop culture in 1954.
Godzilla’s rise is attributed to nuclear radiation, a hot topic post-World War II and the ensuing Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US, giving the film a social-political undertone in tune with its time.
In the years that followed its first appearance on screen, Godzilla, through its numerous reincarnations, would come to symbolise war, the threat of nuclear disaster and mankind’s deteriorating treatment of nature.
Now, the gargantuan creature is making a comeback in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, screening in the UAE now.
This time, Godzilla will butt heads with fellow ancient super-species: Mothra, Rodan and the three-headed King Ghidorah. The colossal battle between these mega monsters puts mankind in the crosshairs, threatening wide-scale destruction in its wake.
But is it only the monsters who are causing the destruction?
It seems that 65 years after Godzilla first emerged from the depths of the ocean, the world has regressed so much that we’re beginning to pay the price for our own monstrosities.
In an article for Forbes, pop culture writer Dani Di Placido wrote: “The modern-day Godzilla has discarded the nuclear metaphor, in exchange for climate change and environmental destruction; one of the opening shots of the new trailer depicts a sea of dead fish, followed by a fleeing crowd of panicked pedestrians.
“The shots have an eerie familiarity. We’re becoming oddly accustomed to the sight of forest fires, hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes played out on the news, and Godzilla: King Of The Monsters appears to be deliberately invoking them.”
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Sally Hawkins and Ziyi Zhang. Rating: PG13.