Verticality In Godzilla

Good Essays
The 1954 film Godzilla was not only massively successful in Japanese box offices, but also in pushing the use of special effects forward. While the legacy of Godzilla includes an enormous amount of sequels, spin-offs, and other forms of paratext, its ingenious utilization of practical effects to drive a timely ideological message is what has made Godzilla an enduring film able to capture audiences even today. But, the effects themselves did not make Godzilla a classic film, but the effects in conjunction with cinematographic elements, including Kristin Whissel’s concept of verticality.
Whissel discusses the nature of verticality in her article “Tales of Upward Mobility: The New Verticality and Digital Special Effects,” and how it is utilized
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Gravity is inevitable in the same way, though as a force of nature instead of a force of human nature. Godzilla is, like gravity, a force of nature that has an inevitable and vertical force. Even in its underwater home, Godzilla never raises a foot completely when it walks, implying that the force of gravity on the monster is incredibly high, which in turn gives Godzilla an enormous amount of power in its sluggish destruction of the city. It is its slowness in response to gravity that makes the power of Godzilla so threatening; it is almost as if the monster is destruction, rather than causing it, as Godzilla so easily lays waste without the help of momentum. The power of Godzilla’s gravity (and thereby its verticality as well) is supplemented by the use of camera tilts that provide an introduction to the monster. It is so massive that it cannot possibly all fit into the frame at once. Godzilla is also often shown in segmented body parts, which provides a similar effect to camera tilting and further adds to Godzilla’s scale, and therefore the power of its gravity as well. To augment this, Godzilla is often shown using low-angle shots and the people seeing the monster are shown through high-angle shots. When we see Godzilla, we look up at it, and it towers over us as. However, the…show more content…
Over the course of the film, Dr. Serizawa develops the Oxygen Destroyer, a powerful piece of technology that emits a chemical that isolates oxygen atoms in water molecules and splits them. This causes any living thing that comes into contact with the chemical to suffocate then disintegrate. Serizawa claims that the Oxygen Destroyer is similar in power to the Hydrogen and Atomic Bombs. In the movie, the Oxygen Destroyer is the purest form of a powerful weapon before the technology is perverted by human use. This is complicated by the emergence of Godzilla, which was caused by Hydrogen and Atomic Bomb testing and alludes to Godzilla’s symbolic significance. Godzilla is a representation of the destructive power of nuclear weaponry, as well as pointing to their disturbance of nature. The coming together of a new weapon technology being used to save Japan from the symbol of nuclear demise leads us to the climactic clash between Serizawa (and his Oxygen Destroyer) and Godzilla, where Godzilla’s verticality is subverted. When the Oxygen Destroyer kills Godzilla, the monster is carried to the surface, which is the first and last instance of Godzilla being disconnected from the ground in the film. The moment is able to fill the spectator with awe because the Oxygen Destroyer performed an impossible task: overpowering Godzilla’s gravity. Furthermore, when Godzilla reaches the
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