Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla ★★★★½

Shin Godzilla has my favorite Godzilla design of any Godzilla movie. Driven, pained, wild-eyed, powered by inner fire, rapidly mutating to adapt to its environment, this Godzilla is not bemused and regal, not deciding but reacting. Godzilla is a truly a god, a god summoned by humanity's splitting of the atom and the changes this has wrought in the world. This movie though, isn't as much about Godzilla as it is about how the Japanese government responds to the arrival of Godzilla, what decisions it makes, how it makes those decisions, how it collects information to make those decisions and by what means those decisions are executed. Shin Godzilla has no time for formal, hidebound traditionalism and bureaucracy, preferring a less hierarchical, smaller decision-making body. Shin Godzilla is wary of foreign entanglements and the burdens imposed by them, while acknowledging its deep complicity and historical relationship with the United States. The science related to Godzilla and the plan advanced to save Tokyo made sense to me and felt satisfying. There is no glory in destruction here, no nihilism. Shin Godzilla is an assertion of human rationality and problem-solving, if at the cost of the abandonment of democratic methodologies.

I am someone who always identifies with Godzilla over human efforts at nullification of Godzilla. I am someone who never trusts a state apparatus to do the right thing by its own citizenry. From a vantage point of 2017, in the United States, it is shocking to see a government, even a fictional one, attempt to manage and defuse a crisis using logical algorithms and the scientific method, especially at a time when the sputtering belligerence of the current US Administration edges all of us closer to a completely avoidable nuclear confrontation wherein South Korea and Japan might be thought of as acceptable losses. The claims of this film are ones I understand, even as I have difficulty accepting or approving of them and many of their larger implications.

Hideaki Anno is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. Engagement with Godzilla is a dream come true for me. Much of who and what I am has been in meditation with and on aspects of Neon Genesis Evangelion for 20 years. Cosmic, universal pessimism in regards to the reach, scale and success of human endeavours comes easiest to me. Forming pragmatic solutions to common problems is more difficult. Reading Shin Godzilla as a vote in favor of humanity's ability to overcome itself to address matters of basic survival makes me feel skeptical but cautiously optimistic. What worries me is the need to view human history as a series of self-caused crises resolvable only by extraordinary means and suspension of democratic norms in favor of direct executive action. If I must reside within a state, I would rather live in an inefficient, slow-moving one with many internal checks and balances and points-of-view rather than one convinced of its own capacity to make the right decisions immediately because there is no time for deliberation and a process of information sharing resulting in having to listen to feedback received in turn, further complicating the decision-making processes. Shin Godzilla is advancing a specific theory and model of best practices in governance. I am still wrestling with what it had to say.

Blessed Be!

<3 nathaxnne

nathaxnne liked these reviews

All