Can Cloverfield Promote Healing In A Post 911 America?

Is it possible that J.J. Abrams giant monster film, "Cloverfield", may be exactly what the American public needs to see after experiencing the horrors of 9/11? Could watching a giant monster smash buildings in New York City be good therapy? Anyone who has seen the latest trailers for the film can't help but make comparisons to the type of destruction they witnessed on that infamous September morning. Yet, millions of Americans are waiting in eager anticipation for the film to be released next month. Does all this seem crazy? Well, it might if the exact same thing didn't happen fifty-three years ago.

In 1954, Ishiro Honda unleashed the largest, and most destructive movie monster ever conceived of, Godzilla, into Japanese theaters. A mere nine years after the first two atomic bombs destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, movie goers were treated to the same kind of fiery destruction, this time, being dealt out by a fictitious creature instead of American war planes. The movie was a huge success. In fact if it wasn't for Akira Kurosawa's cinematic masterpiece, "The Seven Samurai", the film would have walked away with Japan's equivalent of the Oscar for "best picture".

The idea for Godzilla (aka Gojira) was spawned after producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was forced to cancel a planned Japan-Indonesia co-production called Eiko kage-ni (Behind the Glory). The story was inspired by a real-life nuclear accident in which a Japanese fishing boat ventured too close to an American nuclear test and was contaminated. After producer Tanaka saw the American monster film "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" (1953), he got the idea to center the film around a dinosaur-like monster which would wreck havoc on Japan.

Likewise, "Cloverfield" was inspired the events of 9/11 and .......well......Godzilla. On a trip to Japan, Abrams visited a toy shop with his son and marveled at Godzilla figures on the stores shelves. At this years Comic Con, Abrams explained it this way, “I want a monster movie, I've wanted one for so long. I was in Japan with my son and all he wanted to do is go to toy stores. And we saw all these Godzilla toys, and I thought, we need our own monster, and not King Kong, King Kong's adorable. I wanted something that was just insane and intense. "

Bryan Burk, a producer of Cloverfield, has also elaborated that 911 was on the mind of those working on the film,"This film started out as just that: a monster movie. Yet as production continued, it became more and more clear that Cloverfield was "a 9/11 movie that's not actually a 9/11 movie."

Whether a 9/11 movie or Godzilla clone, "Cloverfield" has become one of the most anticipated films of 2008. One can only speculate the effect the film will have on the American public, especially in New York. Maybe seeing a giant monster causing the destruction this time will help people cope with what they saw six years ago, just like it did in Japan in 1954. As for Abrams and his film crew, they can only hope that there mysterious monster film will strike the same chord with audiences that Godzilla has.

Is it good therapy? Is it harmless escapism? Will it be good cinema? Only time will tell.

See Also: Cloverfield - Exclusive Sneak Preview / Cloverfield Gets A PG-13 Rating/Photo On Ebay / The First Look At The Cloverfield Monster / New Cloverfield Trailer / Godzilla - King of the Monsters


  1. I wanted to give credit to Todd Tennant for the above photo. He is doing an excellent job working on the online Godzilla 94 graphic novel. Many of you are familiar with Todd's work. Many fine examples can be found here at Robo Japan and on Monster Island News. Kudos to you Todd, keep up the good work!

  2. Since we are comparing Cloverfield with Godzilla, I thought it would be a good idea to add this fuel to the fire.

    In a sense Cloverfield is a modern adaptation of the Americanized version of the original Gojira entitled Godzilla King of the Monsters. Here is why I say this. In Godzilla the story is narrarated by an American newspaper reporter named Steve Martin (no...not the famous comedian!). Back in the 1950's that is how the world found out about important events, like a giant monster destroying Tokyo. Now in Cloverfield you have the story being told (Narrarated) by average joe citezens, with hand help cameras, (or possibly cell phones) who witness the events first hand. In the year 2008 this is how news gets reported to the world, well, in some circumstances, anyway.

    From this point of view it is easy to see that J.J. Abrams is really making a modern version of Godzilla. This is very muuch in the same way Honda and Tanaka were making a modern (for 1954) version of King Kong.

    It is really hard not to start drawing these comparisons. I mean, come on, Abrams himself has stated that Godzilla was one of his main influences for this project, so it would only figure that we will be seeing a lot of Godzilla in Cloverfield.

    Which reminds me, Abrams has got to come up with a cool name for his monster if it is gonna fly with the fans.

  3. I've never posted to this blog or really any other blog but am very interested in the movie cloverfield. I can't help wonder if JJ Abrams is calling the movie cloverfield due to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You see after the bombings, all that would grow in the areas where the impacts occurred was fields of clover.

    Perhaps this movie is about Japanese revenge on the United States for the nuclear attack back in 1945???

    I've been to the viral sites and have translated one of the Japanese scripts. The symbols 力の手 translated to English means the hand of power. These symbols come from the viral site.

  4. Honestly, the film got the name "Cloverfield" by accident. The project was originally supposed to be called "Cloverdale", (Which is the name of the street that J.J. Abrams, Bad Robot Productions, is on.)but some one along the line made a typo on a document, and the name "Cloverfield" made it on to the press material. The name became so popular so fast, that Abrams just decided to stick with it.

  5. GODZILLA was certainly all about the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the Japanese also make many films that play on their constant fears of mudslides, tsunami and earthquakes that regularly strike across the country.

    I can't say for sure why they would want to watch these events repeatedly in entertainment, and I was certainly surprised that CLOVERFIELD is set in New York. We'll have to see how the film goes down in Manhattan!


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