Although it takes place several years after World War II, the scars of the war on the Japanese are clearly visible in Godzilla. The titular titan's a supersized anti-nuke symbol. It's pretty obvious; even the creature's skin looks like it's been seared by nuclear flames. But the movie's also an argument against war itself, not just one terrible incident of a very terrible war.
In the film, traditional weapons of war, such as machine guns, tanks, and jet fighters, provide no protection for the populace, despite that being the whole point. While Godzilla's born of a nuclear weapon, it isn't a weapon used in a military conflict. It's an H-bomb test in the Pacific—in other words, even just preparing for war brings about disastrous consequences. And the reason Serizawa doesn't use the Oxygen Destroyer sooner stems from his fear that it'll be used in a future war between people.
You can view Godzilla as a protest against the use of nuclear weapons. That's totally on point, but let's not forget to explore the film's anti-war messaging as well.
Questions About Warfare
- Do you see a particular character as representing the film's anti-war message?
- Do you see a particular character as representing a pro-war side of the argument?
- Do you think the military is successful (or at least effective) in its mission to protect Japan? Why or why not?
- Do you think Godzilla's anti-nuclear weapons message still holds up today? Why?
Chew on This
Although the film contains an anti-war message, it isn't necessarily anti-military. It has several scenes showing the military in a positive light.
Although other countries are mentioned, no allies are shown fighting alongside the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, suggesting a theme of isolationism to go with its anti-war messaging.