Autoethnography is a relatively new concept to me and admittedly upon hearing it I was at a complete loss. Ellis et al. (2011) defines autoethnography as the approach to researching and writing, that systematically both describe and analyses a personal experience in order to understand one’s cultural experience. Simply put it is the personal observation, of a personal experience and interaction with a culture in order to form a greater understanding of that experience.
Having watched the later Godzilla films many times (especially the second one, a childhood favourite of mine, for reasons that now escape my memory), I was somewhat familiar with the overall storyline. Although this was my first time watching the original Gojila, filmed in 1954 I definitely wasn’t my first time experiencing Japanese media. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different forms of Japanese culture from Anime and manga to TV dramas, and feel this prior experience however small helped me understand some of the references or Japanese practices and traditions. These are some of my observations during my viewing of Gojila:
- Gojila (or Godzilla) the monster, was not very scary (no offence 1945) – obviously we have come a long way with special effects and costuming although I still wonder were people back then actually afraid when watching this movie?
- Obvious miniature sets were very obvious, as well as impressive and incredibly detailed.
- Consistent reminders and references to Hiroshima and American brutality throughout the movie. From what I remember from the newer versions of Godzilla, this is something that is also consistent in the newer movies as well – 2014 Godzilla was not as subtle with the heavy references on personal loss and the consistent refusal from the military to learn from previous mistakes.
- Unnecessary love triangle or dramatics that does nothing to add to the story or plot aside from try to have the audience feel something for the emotional state of the characters (all in all movie would have been essentially the same without the love triangle) – can’t have an action movie without a bad romance plot.
- Emiko needs to calm down. Let me clarify, I thought that maybe everyone would be a bit more over dramatic when I saw Emiko in the beginning of the film but soon came to realise that all women in this film were dramatic (and yes some of the male characters are to, but its sparse). Maybe it suited the era but watching it now I couldn’t take the movie or the scenes serious when Emiko was screaming in horror at dead fish, running into walls and crying as she looked into the distance. Calm yo self. I would be interested to see if over dramatizing movie or TV shows is a norm amongst Japanese media.
- Is that a landmark I see? Well can’t have that now can we? Hollywood’s love of destroying well known structures and well known land marks know no bounds, culture, time or country all landmarks must go!
- A lot of Japanese traditions and customs were present throughout the movie. I found it an interesting insight into the Japanese home life and family hierarchy.
- Had distinct gender roles, only real occupations for women were nurse or teachers (that I saw anyway) – not too sure what Emiko was. Was she an assistant to her father? Or did she just follow him around?
- Notices that some of the basic translations weren’t exactly correct but interoperated for that eras use of slang in countries such as America.
All in all I found the movie quite interesting especially in its original setting, and definitely enjoyed some of the little quirks it offered (like the mini sets).