Is the New Godzilla an Environmentalist Parable?

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 10 2013 2:33 PM

Is the New Godzilla an Environmentalist Parable?

godzilla
Screenwriter Frank Darabont says Godzilla is a "terrifying force of nature."

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Back in October, a teaser for the 2014 version of Godzilla featuring J. Robert Oppenheimer’s famous account of the first detonation of an atomic bomb leaked online. (Oppenheimer, you may recall, said the explosion reminded him of a line from the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds.”)

That bit of promotional material suggested that perhaps this Godzilla, with its rather stunning cast—which includes David Strathairn, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, and more—would return in some way to the trauma that motivated the original: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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Now the first official trailer has arrived, and, well, maybe not so much.

This preview is similarly moody, but less distinctive: After that long (by trailer standards) opening in which men jump from a plane to the Godzilla-stomped ground below, we get a fairly familiar set of 21st-century action-movie tropes (explosion, concerned woman, puzzled scientist, fleeing children).

The monster, or what we can see of it, looks great, but the scattershot images don’t tell us much, just yet, about what kind of story director Gareth Edwards and screenwriter Frank Darabont hope to tell with the beast this time around. Darabont himself has said he sees Godzilla primarily as a “terrifying force of nature,” so perhaps this remake will have less to do with war and more to do with climate change.

Whatever the movie’s about, it’s set to premiere in May 2014.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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