Godzilla: King of the Monsters! was the first American remake of Gojira, and is more of a remediation than a remake. It took sections of the original Gorjira and fashioned them around the story of its new protagonist, an American named Steve Martin. Japanese dialogue was dubbed into English, and it attempted to show the events of Gojira from an outsider’s perspective. About 40 minutes of the original film was cut, and about 20 minutes of new footage was added. The result was a film largely devoid of the anti-nuclear themes so central to the heart of Gojira. Without them, Godzilla tells a decidedly different story, one that silences Japanese people’s perspectives on their own history.
The U.S. is the only country to inflict nuclear weaponry on another country, and Japan is the only country to experience a nuclear attack, making Gojira—a walking manifestation of the atomic bombs—a fundamentally Japanese narrative. Godzilla is the U.S.’s attempt to Americanize something that’s completely removed from the American collective consciousness. Gojira representing the atomic bomb doesn’t impact American audiences the way it does Japanese audiences, as the effects of nuclear war are not a part of the American historical identity. Taking a story with roots so deeply embedded in Japanese culture and removing it from its historical and cultural context by transferring it to an American cinema for an American audience renders that story less urgent, less necessary. Gojira becomes Godzilla.