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Film: Shin Godzilla
Composer: Shiro Sagisu
Outside of Japan, Godzilla is somewhat of a joke. This is largely due to the historical relevance missing from every other county: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and, more recently, Fukushima. ‘Shin Godzilla’ is perhaps the most realistic, agonizing version of this nuclear fear, and composer Shiro Sagisu gives it the proper respect and gravity it deserves.
‘Shin Godzilla’ features a heavy human element: governmental and bureaucratic reaction to Godzilla’s emergence. In most hands this would be a torturous, tedious experience. But Sagisu fills these scenes of administrative problem solving and stress with relentless, frenetic taiko drums, building the pace and tension that these bureaucrats, politicians, and, by extension, the entirety of Japan feel.
Sagisu also gives a frightening, fearful weight to this iteration of Godzilla – a monstrous, tortured being. He does so first through rerecorded heavy, regal brass themes from at least five previous Godzilla films, all originally composed by the legendary Akira Ifukube. These themes, in particular “Return of Godzilla” from ‘King Kong vs. Godzilla,’ give the titular monster a daunting, unstoppable presence.
Godzilla’s most intriguing attribute, and perhaps the one most lost in translation, is its sympathy, its agony, its utter pain of existence, a creature born through the waste and negligence of Man only to be attacked and hated by his creator. “Who Will Know” beautifully captures this attribute, an operatic lamentation of life and pain, whose lyrics stem from the point of view of Godzilla itself, when it is alone, vulnerable, and afraid all while its makers attack. Through this scene in particular Sagisu manages to humanize Godzilla, giving it a surprising depth of character and sympathy.
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