Turtle Victory

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As I mentioned before, I like Gamera. The big flying space turtle strikes me as immeasurably superior to Godzilla in entertainment value. True, the early, more sombre Godzilla films have a certain High Seriousness pertaining to their status as metaphors for the atomic age — ridiculous metaphors, but metaphors nonetheless. And Godzilla’s roar, made by grasping the strings of a bull fiddle with a catcher’s mitt and pulling the strings through your fist, is a magnificent sound. And he has an inappropriately jaunty theme tune, which is nice. More monsters should have inappropriately jaunty theme tunes. If the mutant fish monster from THE HOST sploshed about to the strains of the Baby Elephant Walk, I take the view that he’d be a lot more popular than he presently is.

But Gamera, nevertheless, has it all over Godzilla. His films are more avowedly for kids, lending them a natural dignity that isn’t possible when you ask adults to take seriously a sweltering bit player in a baggy lizard suit (Godzilla seems to be wearing scaly jodhpurs — ugh!). The films are super-colourful. And super-violent. While Godzilla, once he lightened up and started playing tag-team grudge matches with other underpaid Toho employees in disfiguring attire, basically bounced around harmlessly with his foes, crushing the same model pagoda in film after film, Gamera actually rips his opponents to bloody shreds. No wonder kids love him so.

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GAMERA VS GUIRON is a good entry — some kids, chasing a rabbit (a conscious nod to Lewis Carroll?), find a flying saucer and the Japanese boy and the gaijin boy accidentally fly it off to an alien world (leaving the little girl behind on Earth because girls are boring). The alien world is colourful, and we get a fight between two kaiju, seemingly the pattern for Lancelot’s duel with the Black Knight in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL. Guiron literally takes Gaos to pieces. There’s very little blood, because Gaos is composed of solid purple on the inside, so that’s okay I guess. I shouldn’t think he felt a thing, except when his legs and wings and head got chopped off.

Guiron is basically a big laughing knife, about which I shall probably be dreaming tonight. It’s a good job Gamera can retract all his vulnerable bits.

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Lovely sets! (and matte paintings!)

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Lovely aliens!

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5 Responses to “Turtle Victory”

  1. henryholland666 Says:

    [dismissive wave of hand] Pish, Godzilla and Gamera aren’t worthy of even being mentioned in the same breath as Mothra and its fairy twins.

    I watched the original “Godzilla” (i.e. without Raymond Burr added) recently and it was very enjoyable.

  2. Ben Kingsley had a very nice story about John Irvin’s direction on Turtle Diary. JI came on the film late as a replacement for someone else, and Kinglsey wasn’t sure he was right.

    There’s a scene where Handhi Bendhi Gandhi has to ask Glenda Jackson MP out to the pub, and it’s quite an out-of-character thing for him to do. Kingsley said the line. Irvin said, “OK, do it again, but this time, after the line, look like you you can’t believe you said it and you have no idea who did.” So Kingsley says it and his eyes do this little panicky dart left and right — Where did THAT come from?

    Beautiful. At about 23 mins in, and very subtle.

    Admittedly, there’s nothing like that in Gamera vs Guiron.

  3. “How can I say I love you when I’m breathing radioactive fire?”

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