It is a sad day when the iconic Godzilla becomes a vessel for extreme environmentalism.
Gareth Edwards’ remake of the classic “Godzilla” pushed a strong environmental message where three massive monsters serve as nature’s brutal revenge against mankind’s abuse of the earth. The film which opened on May 16, sent multiple messages including anti-nuclear power and the message that “humanity has abused” the world and “deserved” Godzilla’s attack, according to the director.
Actor Ken Watanabe proclaimed that “the arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control and not the other way around,” and Edwards also expressed this environmentalist point of view in interviews. Edwards called Godzilla “a god” that tapped into people’s “[worries] about global warming.”
Edwards told the website IO9 that “Humanity has abused its position in the world” and that he sought to make viewers feel that “we’ve been asking for this.” He clarified this perspective to The Daily Beast, saying “through our abuse of nature, we inadvertently bring [these monsters] back to the world.” Not only did we cause this to happen, he continued, “we deserved it.”
The original “Godzilla” was a message movie about the atomic bombs. But in this film version Godzilla represented nature’s physical revenge against human excess. In the movie, a researcher described Godzilla as “a god for all intents and purposes.” Watanabe’s character later explored the notion that Godzilla was a force of nature with the “power to restore balance” against human-caused calamity.
In the same Daily Beast interview, Edwards affirmed these themes. He called Godzilla “a god” that represents ancient Pagan fears over nature, fitting into the narrative that Godzilla was “a force of nature” and nature’s “mascot.”
Edwards highlighted specific human “abuses.” The first major theme was, just like the original, based on nuclear testing and energy. Those “abuses” were represented by other monsters besides Godzilla. These monsters, dubbed MUTO, were attracted by sources of radiation and first discovered through massive mining projects. These dangerous monsters were created from human exploitation of nature, and Godzilla served as nature correcting these mistakes.
Edwards also tried to exploit fear of global warming. While refraining from making this message explicit, The Daily Beast also reported Edwards saying that “stories have been used for a long time to smuggle the morals of the day inside them, and today, people are worried about global warming.”
A few media outlets have noticed the radical environmental messages in the new “Godzilla,” movie including the Latin Times’s Phillip Martinez who called “Godzilla” a “life lesson on how man has ‘tarnished’ nature.” In addition, USA Today’s Claudia Puig described Godzilla as “nature’s imposing defense weapon” against “the arrogance of humans,” and Wired Magazine’s Angela Watercutter portrayed the monster as “a physical form for human fears that we’ve run roughshod over the Earth.”