Today, Godzilla is known for being a child-friendly character. He's not Barney, but he has a toy line, stars in video games, and has put out more than a few sugary-sweet films. Remember the one with Jet Jaguar? It made Godzilla about as terrifying as a Care Bear mosh pit.
But the original Godzilla film took the concept seriously, and parents should be forewarned if they plan to show this one to a young'un. The film builds intensity and makes you feel the gravity of the destruction in ways that other Godzilla movies do not.
In one scene, for example, a woman huddles in fear with her children, telling them they will see Daddy soon. The next shot shows a building collapsing in flames, and we assume they died in that moment. Another scene shows a makeshift field hospital that looks like something from a World War II documentary. People are injured, bodies are carted off, and children cry over the loss of loved ones.
While other Godzilla films treat destroyed cityscapes with all the concern a toddler gives another kid's Lego tower, the original makes you feel the terror of the situation. You know those places are occupied, you know people are dying, and you know that the survivor's lives will be ruined as a result.
With that said, Godzilla (1954) is still an old movie and media-savvy kids will "see the strings," as it were. Despite some impressive camera work, Godzilla is obviously a man in a rubber suit stomping his way through a model railroader's masterpiece. Also, the film isn't overtly violent, has little profanity, and no scenes of an adult nature other than some party goers enjoying a few drinks and some smokes.
All in all, it may not be for youngest among us, but they have other Godzilla movies to entertain them. Cue the Jet Jaguar theme song.