Godzilla, the King of Kaiju, died on Monday. The actual monster will likely live on in big screen iterations for generations to come, but we’ve lost Haruo Nakajima, the actor who played the massive dragon who became a symbol for the dawn on the nuclear age in the creature’s very first feature in 1954. It’s a bizarre coincidence that we’re remembering the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs this very week. Here’s the Associated Press with the word about the actor and his definitive take on that most magnificent movie monster…
He stomped over miniature bridges and buildings in a rubber suit and gave the world Godzilla, the fire-breathing, screeching monster that became Japan’s star cultural export and an enduring symbol of the pathos and destruction of the nuclear age.
Haruo Nakajima, who portrayed Godzilla in the original 1954 classic, died Monday of pneumonia, his daughter Sonoe Nakajima told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He was 88.
The film, which went on to become a mega-series and inspired Hollywood spinoffs, struck a chord with postwar Japan, the only nation in the world to suffer atomic bombing, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the closing days of World War II.
Vivacious and energetic, Nakajima said he invented the character from scratch, and developed it by going to a zoo to study how elephants and bears moved. He said it was important to show the pathos of the creature, which could only smash everything in its way.
The theme of his Godzilla was grand and complex, he said, addressing universal human problems, as it spoke to a Japan that still remembered wartime suffering.
“If Godzilla can’t walk properly, it’s nothing but a freak show,” Nakajima said in a 2014 interview with the AP at his suburban Tokyo apartment, proudly sitting among sepia-toned photos of him as a young man and Godzilla figures.
“It’s not some cowboy movie,” he said.
Here’s the documentary Godzilla: King of the Monsters…