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‘Shin Godzilla’ vs. Parliament: Man, Machine, and Monster in Hideaki Anno’s Rapid-Fire Spectacle

Often forgotten in the six decades since the release of the original Godzilla (1954) and its 1956 American recut is the somber, even funerary tone which pervades those scenes not showcasing its titular monster. Released not even a full decade after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which concluded World War II, the film was stunningly blunt with its nuclear metaphor in ways that penetrated the veil of genre pulp: scenes of radiation victims and refugee shelters overcrowded with legions of the dead and dying still have the power to rattle contemporary audiences, never mind those for whom the real thing exists in living memory. Certain scenes likewise exude melancholy beauty that belies the film’s reputation as monster-movie camp: a mournful schoolchildren’s choir undercuts a montage of urban ruins and a major character’s fateful decision; Godzilla’s ultimate defeat is more elegiac than triumphant, as the beast gracefully

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