Godzilla, Seven Samurai Reunited at Tokyo Exhibition

From Japan Realtime

Some of Japan’s most iconic film characters, including Godzilla and the Seven Samurai, are reunited at a Tokyo exhibition that recalls the great age of Japanese film, and features Japanese-film specialties — monsters and samurai.

“Toho Studios – Innovative Filmmakers in Setagaya,” which opened on Feb. 21 at the Setagaya Art Museum, explores the creative legacy of Toho Studios, which started as the Photo Chemical Laboratory in 1932 and has been the birthplace of countless films since. Among the most memorable, “Godzilla” and “Seven Samurai” were both released in 1954 and came to symbolize the studio’s golden age.

The exhibition introduces many of the creative people who worked for the studio over its 80-year history, exploring how the films were made, with a special focus on the two legendary films.

At the opening reception on Feb. 20, museum director Tadayasu Sakai said the exhibition “deciphers Toho Studios in the context of an art museum,” and “conveys the sentiments of the times in many ways.”

Godzilla’s lead actor Akira Takarada, now 80, recalled, “One day, I was given a screenplay, with ‘Godzilla’ in black letters on a red cover. I realized I had got my first lead role, something I had been dreaming of.”

Godzilla depicts the imagined consequences of nuclear power out of control and featured special effects remarkable for the time. As can be seen in storyboards, design sketches and production albums, director Ishiro Honda collaborated closely with special-effects director Eiji Tsuburaya to bring the monster to life and work it into a serious dramatic story. The studio eventually produced 28 Godzilla movies by 2004, and is scheduled to release another in 2016.


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