Godzilla is a fictional Jurassic-age, amphibious reptile, that, after being awakened from slumber by the US testing of hydrogen weapons in the Pacific, decides to destroy Tokyo. In the 1954 Japanese film, Godzilla was presented as a combination of Tyrannosaurus, Iguanodon, Stegosaurus, and an alligator packaged in body tall enough (164 feet) to see over the tallest building in Tokyo.

With “atomic breath” and a characteristic disyllabic roar – “Skreeeonk!,” Godzilla became a pop culture icon starring in thirty-eight films (thirty-three of them Japanese) and becoming the basis for toys, books and computer games. The film that inspired Godzilla, however, is largely forgotten. In The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), “Rhedosaurus” is awakened by the US testing of atomic bombs and destroys New York City.

Over the course many films, Godzilla transitioned from a troubled beast – symbolizing what happens when science goes wrong - to a protector of mankind and a father: Baby Godzilla! By the 1970s, Godzilla was deemed the “original radioactive superhero” and ranked as the most popular movie monster, beating out King Kong, Frankenstein, Count Dracula, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Godzilla = Gojira

Tōkyō-to Shinagawak-ku: Nōbasu, 1993

PN6728.G578 1993 HCB

From the Edward Valauskas collection of Dinosauriana