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Godzilla: Toho vs Criterion

posted Mar 25, 2012, 4:29 PM by Vu Nguyen

594: GODZILLA (1954) (Blu-Ray) (24 Jan 2012)
Criterion Collection released their version of Godzilla on Bluray and DVD recently. Although I already own Toho's Gojira release, looking at the image quality between the HD and DVD version, you can tell that the Toho's video quality is by far inferior. Note the trees and the monster in these two image comparison.

If you've never seen the original Godzilla film, there are two very different version of the film: the original 1954 Japanese version and the 1956 Godzilla: King of the Monsters version. The new US footage stars Raymond Burr, directed by Terry Morse, and was inserted into the Japanese movie to tell its own story.

Unfortunately, because the original source material and time period, the movie is in 4:3, not in widescreen. This is fine for the most part, but if you have an HD TV, you'll notice annoying black bars on the side of your TV, unless you have it in fullscreen or stretch mode.

I've broken down the differences between the Toho and Criterion version below:


■ 2-DVDs: both Japanese and US version
■ Amazon price: $7.99 (CHEAP!)
■ Commentaries by Steve Ryfle
and Ed Godziszewski  
■ Making of Godzilla Suite feature
■ Story Development feature

■ 1 Bluray: both Japanese and US version
■ Amazon price: $24.40 (expensive)
■ Audio commentary by David Kalat
■ New high-definition digital restoration, uncompressed monaural soundtrack
New interviews with actor Akira Takarada (Hideto Ogata), Godzilla performer Haruo Nakajima, and effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai Interview with legendary Godzilla score composer Akira Ifukube
■ Featurette detailing Godzilla’s photographic effects
■ New interview with Japanese-film critic Tadao Sato


I don't consider "new and improved English subtitle" and essays and trailers as "Special Features", they're just standard extras to me. Between the two, if you can live with the DVD quality, I highly recommend buying the DVD, especially for the price ($8). The packaging for the Toho version comes with a sturdy hard cardboard case, similar to the same material that is used in boxsets. The Criterion comes with a fold-out Godzilla head, but I'm not that crazy about the cover artwork - which looks like a combination of film clip and digital art/paint.

If you are a sucker for image quality, then the Bluray is a must for you. The new transfer looks clean and vivid.

If you're a features guy, Criterion does offer more interviews, but between you and me, I never really have time to watch all the extras, especially if it's just interviews (with subtitles) and can get boring - but that's just me.

PS, If you know how to do screen prints of Blurays, please let me know.  The Criterion image was scaled to 720 (from 1080) because my display won't allow a full screen capture.  I understand this is a DRM issue, but it's really annoying.