1998 & 2006 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title Godzilla
Japanese Title Gojira
Movie also known as: Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
CD Label Futureland / Toshiba EMI Japan
CD Number TYCY-5345
Music by: Akira Ifukube
Number of tracks 21
Running time 36:50
Number of discs 1
Year of release/manufacture 1993
Year Movie Released in Japan 1954
Year Movie Released in U.S. 1956
DVD Released in U.S. May 1998, SIMITAR #7473
Both Widescreen and Pan & Scan versions plus Dolby Digital 5.1 sound

REVIEW

1998 - Updated 2004

Well, what can I say, this is the music from the very first "Godzilla" film. For the very first time we get to hear Akira Ifukube's wondrous and memorable themes. This CD starts off with "Main Title" which will be immediately known to you. This theme will be used again in future films under different titles. Track #2 gives us the famous Godzilla footsteps and roar we've all grown to love. Track #9, "Frigate March", is also music that will be very familiar as it too will show up in later films. Here we are treated to just a short 41 second clip of it. A lot of the selections on this disc are very short with six (6) running at less than a minute and nine (9) others under two minutes in length. The whole CD has a rather short running time of just under 37 minutes. Some of these shorter tracks work much better accompanying the film than they do as stand alone music. Track #14, "Godzilla To Tokyo Bay" is also memorable and is a slow, plodding (in a good way) tune that will be easily remembered from the film. "Attack Godzilla", track # 15, is also another great theme that will be used in many future movies, usually when the military is moving men and equipment. Track #16 is a very sad and moving theme that invokes memories for me of the destroyed Tokyo after Godzilla has passed through it. This track also contains some movie dialogue in the form of a baby crying that brings home the despair felt at the destruction all around. "Godzilla Under The Sea", track # 20, is the longest on the CD clocking in at over six minutes and is from near the end of the movie when the Oxygen Destroyer has been employed to kill Godzilla. This also is very sad and emotionally moving music.

Overall this is a great memory inducing CD and the 1st time of many that we will hear some of this fantastic music. There are other CD's in the series that are longer time wise and maybe even better in stand alone listening but we're hearing great things here for the first time which makes it all special. The disc is now out of print. However it has been nicely redone as part of the new Box Set 1 released September 20, 2004. See CD 1 on this site from that set. The set itself is located here at: 50th Anniversary GODZILLA Soundtrack Perfect Collection

April 15, 2006 - Courtesy of Evan Sizemore

The gigantic dinosaur rises from the ocean depths and tramples postwar Tokyo underfoot, setting the city aflame via his radioactive breath, leaving a path of death and destruction everywhere. As mankind watches in horror he is reminded of the air raid bombings that bombarded the Japanese landscape in WWII, of the atomic weapons that leveled their cities and ripped apart their infrastructures, and of their ignorance toward nature which ultimately created the very beast that now brought froth untold ruin and pain. That was the message Maestro Akira Ifukube had to convey through the art of music, the feeling he needed to underline in the story, an idea which needed to be emphasized in the film, Godzilla.

In 1954, Akira Ifukube was hired to write the score for Toho's big blockbuster science fiction-horror film Godzilla (Gojira, in Japanese). He began his rushed work before the picture was even completed and even before setting eyes on the finished effects, writing the score within a just a few days. The result is a surprisingly short composition (clocking in at just over a half hour in length), but one which some film critics rightly hailed as one of the "best music ever written for a motion picture."

The soundtrack opens with the resounding footfalls and ear splitting, bone-chilling cry of the monster king--both created by Akira Ifukube--followed by the "Main Title," which is played at a vivace-like tempo utilizing violins and trumpet horns, and backed by crashing symbols. This motif gives a tremendous sense of increasing urgency that drives the action of the film along perfectly. Though originally composed for Japan's military forces, as time passed it would become the world famous theme of Godzilla himself. Godzilla's actual theme in this film is a darker, plodding leitmotif lead by oboes and reinforced by the pounding of fists on a piano keyboard. The brooding theme powerfully emphasizes the awe-inspiring size and force Godzilla conveys, making man with his advanced technology seem as small as he truly is against nature's fury. And following the creature's romp through the metropolis as he enters Tokyo Bay to make his way seaward, a dejected, gloomy dirge theme looms over the flaming city as its victims watch helplessly Godzilla return to the ocean.

Regarding the human element in the story and their attempts at evicting themselves of the monster, Ifukube has strung together an up beat tempo march for man's heroic moments. This "Army March" would become nearly as popular as Godzilla's theme as it was lengthened and reworked in various other movie soundtracks such as Battle in Outer Space (1959), but most notably for Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) as the title march.

As for the Ootojima Island sequences, Mr. Ifukube likely relished the opportunity to write music that reflected the spirit and culture of the ancient Japanese and Ainu people, with whose music he grew up with and was fond of. The best example here would be "Ootojima Temple Festival" played by woodwind instruments, symbols and Japanese drums for the dance the natives perform to appease their sea god, Gojira.

Even for the weapon, which ultimately destroyed the creature, did Ifukube provide a simple theme. The Maestro had string musicians grind their instruments to create the jarring high-pitched squeal of "the Oxygen Destroyer" as it liquidates everything under the water. Another unique choice on Ifukube's part was to actually signify the flashing lights of reporter's cameras as they stand atop Tokyo Tower watching Godzilla's rampage via hard, aggressive "hits" made by trumpet horns and a pulsing string movement in "Desperate Broadcast."

Certainly one of the most important compositions written for the movie is the requiem prayer. A heart wrenching dirge which plays over long, panoramic scenes of Tokyo in ruins and the monster's wounded victims lying dead or dying on hospital floors from burns and radiation poisoning. The most prominent version of this leitmotif is that of a choir made up of more than two hundred women as they sing in alto the "Prayer for Peace." The combination of music and picture are so beautifully arranged here that only a viewer with a heart of stone could watch the sequence and be unfazed emotionally. So clearly did the scene invoke images of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings that many audiences in 1954 left the theaters crying. An instrumental version of the same song was yet again used during the end climax as the doomed creator of the Oxygen Destroyer, Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, heads for the ocean bottom to end the threat posed by Godzilla. As David Hirsch once wrote, "both [Serizawa and Godzilla] are victims of science, and both must be sacrificed for the good of all. Neither film nor music attempts to portray either character as hero or villain, just victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time." How true that is.

With each piece of music squeezing every last bit of drama out of each scene, watching the film becomes an emotional experience as the masterful score complements the film's eerie allegory of the threat of nuclear weapons. It is no wonder, then, that Akira Ifukube himself once remarked that he considered the score for Godzilla to be his finest work. One can hardly argue the matter as the music for Godzilla seems to stand apart from all other film scores in its style and diversity. Many would harmoniously agree that Tomoyuki Tanaka, Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya created the King of the Monsters, but it was Akira Ifukube that gave him his soul and spirit. This was the start of Ifukube's magnum opus; the leitmotifs that he created for this film would permeate all three of the forthcoming "G-Series." Therefore, without doubt, this remains the ultimate Godzilla soundtrack.

U.S. Title: Godzilla
Japanese Title: Gojira
  1. Main Title (M1)
  2. Footsteps (M2)
  3. Eiko-maru Sinking (M3)
  4. Bingo-maru Sinking (M4)
  5. Uneasiness on Odo Island (M5)
  6. Ritual Music of Odo Island (M6)
  7. Storm On Odo Island (M7)
  8. Odo Island Theme (M9)
  9. Frigate March 1 (M11)
  10. Horror In The Water Tank (M13)
  11. Godzilla Comes Ashore (M14)
  12. Fury Of Godzilla (MA)
  13. Deadly Broadcast (MB)
  14. Godzilla To Tokyo Bay (MC)
  15. Attack Godzilla ! (M16)
  16. Devastated Tokyo (M19)
  17. Oxygen Destroyer (M20)
  18. Prayer For Peace (PS)
  19. Frigate March II (M21)
  20. Godzilla Under The Sea (M22)
  21. Ending (M23)