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Monster Gets Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame (February 14, 2005)

Godzilla receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Jiji)
Godzilla, the world-famous Japanese movie monster, has turned 50. Yes, a half century has passed since the showing of the first Godzilla movie. In November 2004, Hollywood marked this great occasion by giving Godzilla a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A month later, the Godzilla movie series came to an end with the release of Godzilla Final Wars. During his five decades the monster superstar has won the hearts of people not only in Japan but all over the world.

A Star on the Walk of Fame
The first Godzilla movie, which premiered in November 1954 and was directed by Honda Ishiro, is known as the forerunner of all special-effects films. The plot revolves around a dinosaur that is awakened from a two-million-year slumber by a hydrogen bomb test. Surfacing off the coast of Japan, the dinosaur attacks Tokyo. Although there have been various interruptions in the making of the series, 27 Godzilla films have been produced during the half-century since the giant monster made his debut, attracting a total audience of about 100 million.

The twenty-eighth film in the series, Godzilla Final Wars (directed by Kitamura Ryuhei), which opened in theaters on December 4, 2004, is the last in the series. This final film features a Hollywood version of Godzilla, called Zilla, employed as an assassin by space-aliens known as "Xiliens" who seek to conquer Earth. The real Godzilla engages in a life-or-death battle with Zilla and with various monsters that have featured in previous Godzilla films, such as Gigan and Rodan.

The first-generation Godzilla was portrayed as being 50 meters tall and weighing 20,000 tons. But as Japan's rapid economic growth fueled the construction of ever-higher skyscrapers, the monster's proportions grew. In the 1991 film Godzilla vs. King Ghidora, the monster was truly gargantuan, standing 100 meters tall and weighing 60,000 tons. In the final film, Godzilla is still 100 meters tall but has slimmed down somewhat to 55,000 tons.

In November 2004, Godzilla achieved the distinction of earning himself a star on Hollywood Boulevard. The monster himself let out roars and belched white smoke before an audience of about 500 fans when he appeared at the award ceremony, which was held in front of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater. After actors Hayakawa Sesshu and Iwamatsu Mako, Godzilla is the third Japanese movie star (and the first nonhuman Japanese character) to earn a place on the Walk of Fame. He is also only the third nonhuman character in the world (after the Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck) ever to earn this distinction. On the evening of the award ceremony, Godzilla Final Wars made its world premiere before an audience of 1,200 at Grauman's Chinese Theater. It was the first Japanese film to premiere at Grauman's since 1927.

Godzilla Goes Global

These days, as well as attracting attention for their entertainment value, the Godzilla films are becoming the focus of scholarly research. At the end of October, the University of Kansas held a three-day academic symposium on the theme of Godzilla. This Godzilla Conference drew a field of participants including historians and anthropologists from Harvard and Duke universities, who discussed such topics as postwar Japan-US relations and how special-effects films like the Godzilla series, animated films, and other elements of Japanese pop culture have influenced the world. In keeping with the nature and scale of the conference's theme, a giant Godzilla balloon about 8 meters high was on display. In addition to lectures and panel discussions, there were also free screenings of Godzilla movies.

Having worked for 50 years in the movie business and achieved worldwide popularity, Godzilla will now be able to take a well-earned rest.

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Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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