One of two classic Japanese movies screening in Fanomenon this year, presented in association with Zipangu Festival and featuring rarely screened archive 35mm prints. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) sees the world’s two most monumental monsters go head-to-head, slugging it out in their first ever colour widescreen outing. Produced to celebrate Toho studio’s 30th anniversary, it remains the most commercially successful of the series to date. Both films in the double bill are directed by the legendary Ishiro Honda, creator of Godzilla and the mastermind behind some of Japan’s most inventive and memorable apocalyptic visions. (Also see Matango)
King Kong vs. Godzilla is the first ever film to feature either King Kong or Godzilla in colour and widescreen. Surprisingly it was also only the third outing for Japan’s most celebrated movie monster, and only the second in the series helmed by the director of the original Godzilla (1954); they would come thick and fast after this one, with a total of 15 in the original series until Honda’s final work as a director, Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975).
‘King Kong vs. Godzilla is a triumph. It brought the first really fun monster brawl to the series, and went all-out on trying to create a great visual atmosphere, while still maintaining a solid human plot. And of course, two of the most popular monsters in history were brought together for a spectacular showdown. Ishiro Honda created a winner here, and proved that Godzilla didn’t necessarily have to appear pure evil to attract audiences. Perhaps he could just a monster that people could have fun rooting for or against. King Kong vs. Godzilla is fun, plain and simple; the spirit of which modern Godzilla movies should truly try to emulate more often. It really is the first great “versus” movie.’ (Toho Kingdom)
Recommended rating: 12A.