Thursday, November 3, 2016

Godzilla - International Obsession

When Toho first began offering their Godzilla films for release for U.S. markets, it would supply a  copy of a Japanese print.  The U.S. distributor would then make whatever edits and additions it deemed appropriate, dub the film into English and release it.  Typically the print would be sent to the U.S distributor without text credits, leaving the inclusion of credits to the local distributor.  

However, by the mid 1960s Godzilla and other Toho films were increasingly offered in two versions, a textless version suitable for alteration and an International version which could be put into theaters or on TV immediately.  International versions could be sold to other English-speaking countries or non-English speaking countries where it would be easier to dub the film into the local language by translating English instead of Japanese.

An International version of a Godzilla film is characterized by several features.  First, the Japanese credits are translated into English.  The typeface used will invariably be white.  Second, the film will be distributed uncut from its Japanese version.  Third, the film will be dubbed into English in Tokyo (until 1972) or Hong Kong (1972-2004).  International versions were deemed appropriate for the TV and home video markets, but more quality-conscious distributors like American International Pictures, New World Pictures and Sony Pictures decided to commission new dubs for the films they released theatrically. 




The first Godzilla film to have an extant International version is Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster.  (King Kong vs. Godzilla also had an International version at some point, but you will never see it released anywhere). Every film thereafter (except for possibly Godzilla's Revenge/All Monsters Attack) will also have an International version, although some of them will remain obscure for reasons I will detail later.  Some films here have been modified from their original International versions and I will try to identify those modifications. 


The dubbing used in the International versions was rather unimpressive, so during the late 1960s U.S. distributors often commissioned their own dubs, even if the film was destined for television.  Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla were released directly to TV with a different and generally considered superior dub.  AIP also released several International versions of the Gamera films to TV without commissioning new dubs.  After AIP released Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster in 1971, theatrical releases almost always used the International dubbing and made few changes to the International versions.

Since the late 1990s, Godzilla films have been released on DVD in far better quality than they were on VHS.  Many of the films released during the years 1998-2004 have since been released on Blu-ray around 2014.  I am sure the release of the two American Godzilla films and the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the original Godzilla had nothing to do with these relative floods ;)  Since I own almost all of these films on DVD and Blu-ray, I can comment on how close to an International version the film presentation on the latest disc is.  In one instance, a DVD is closer to the International version than the Blu-ray, but otherwise the Blu-rays are as good or better than a previously released DVD. 


All these discs support the original aspect ratio of these films and come with U.S. and Japanese language tracks except where noted.

Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster/Ebirah, Horror of the Deep




Kraken Releasing 2014 Blu-ray
Toho 2000-2010s English 2.39:1 Logo
English Title Card : Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster from 2003
English Opening Credits (Recreated)
No End Credit


Conclusion : Modified and Recreated International Print

Notes : On a true International Print, the Toho English logo from the 1960s and 1970s would have been used.  The true International print would show an "Ebirah Horror of the Deep" title card.  Also, note how clean the typeface for the opening credits are.  Son and Smog's openings use the same typeface but the lettering is more transparent and less sharp.  I conclude that the typeface has been recreated.  Finally, there should be a "The End" on this print, keeping with the pattern of later films, but there is none.  

Kraken's releases are using the same transfers that Sony's 2004 DVDs used.

Son of Godzilla



Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2004 DVD
Tristar & Toho 2000-2010s English 2.39:1 Logo
English Title Card (recreated with added trademark symbol)
English Opening Credits (Recreated)
English The End Credit (Recreated)



Conclusion : Modified and Recreated International Print

Destroy all Monsters



Media Blasters Tokyo Shock 2011 & 2014 Blu-ray & DVDs
Toho 1960-1970s Japanese 2.35:1 Logo
Japanese Title Card (Subtitled)
Japanese Opening Credits
Japanese Closing Title

Conclusion : Pure Japanese Print


ADV 1999 DVD
Toho 1960-1970s English 2.35:1 Logo
English Title Card
English Opening Credits
English Closing Title





Conclusion : Pure International Print

Notes : The ADV DVD does not contain a Japanese language track, is non-anamorphic and slighly cropped on the right side. The AIP Theatrical Version puts the credits at the end of the film, but the standard Japanese practice of the time was to credit everybody who was to be credited at the beginning of the film.  

Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster/Godzilla vs. Hedorah



Kraken Releasing 2014 Blu-ray
Toho 1960-1970s English 2.35:1 Logo
English Title Card (with added copyright and trademark symbols)
English Opening Credits
English The End Credit



Conclusion : Pure International Print (except as noted above)

Godzilla on Monster Island/Godzilla vs. Gigan


Kraken Releasing 2014 Blu-ray
Toho 1960-1970s English 2.35:1 Logo
English Title Card Recreated with added copyright and trademark symbols
English Opening Credits Recreated
English The End Credit Recreated



Conclusion : Recreated International Print (except as noted above)

Notes : Like Sea Monster, these titles are too clean and opague to have been put on the film prints in the 1970s.  The true International title card can be found on the Godzilla wiki.

Godzilla vs. Megalon



Media Blasters Tokyo Shock 2012 DVD & 2014 Blu-ray
Toho 1960-1970s Japanese 2.35:1 Logo
Japanese Title Card (Subtitled)
Japanese Opening Credits
Japanese Closing Title

Conclusion : Pure Japanese Print

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla



Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2004 DVD
Tristar & Toho 2000-2010s English 2.39:1 Logo
English Title Card (with added trademark symbols)
English Opening Credits
English The End Credit



Conclusion : Pure International Print (except for the anachronistic logo and trademark symbols as noted above)

Notes : This film signifies the end of the use of the Serif typeface used in the credits of prior films.  All subsequent films will use a sans-serif typeface.  

Terror of Mechagodzilla


Classic Media 2006 DVD
Toho 1960-1970s Japanese 2.35:1 Logo
English U.S. TV Title Card
English U.S. TV Opening Credits
Japanese The End Credit

Conclusion : TV + International Print



Notes : The presentation of this film contains the International version's dubbing and is faithful after the freeze frame title sequence except for the brief cut of a shot of Katsura's breasts and the The End credit. Prior to this the U.S. TV prologue is added and the TV credits are used.  The true International title can be seen on the Godzilla wiki.  

Godzilla 1984 / The Return of Godzilla


Kraken Releasing 2016 DVD & Blu-ray
Toho 1980-1990s Japanese 1.85:1 Logo
Japanese Title Card with English Subtitle
Japanese Opening Credits
Japanese Closing Credits

Classification : Pure Japanese Print

Notes : This film does have an International version with the English The Return of Godzilla title card, but Kraken went with the Japanese print because there was an HD scan of it already available.  The International title card can be viewed on the Godzilla wiki.

Godzilla vs. Biollante


Miramax Echo Bridge 2012 DVD & Blu-ray
Toho 1980-1990s Japanese 1.85:1 Logo
Japanese Title Card with English Subtitle
Japanese Opening Credits
Japanese Closing Credits

Classification : Pure Japanese Print

Notes : This film does have an International version with the English Godzilla vs. Biollante title card, but Echo Bridge went with the Japanese print because there was an HD scan of it already available.  The International title card can be viewed on the Godzilla wiki.

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2014 Blu-ray
Tristar Logo
Japanese Title Card with English Subtitle
Truncated English Opening Credits
No Closing Credits

Classification : Tristar Print

Notes : The true International version's title card has English text imposed over the Japanese text.  You can see it on the Godzilla wiki, although I believe that title was made for a Pan and Scan print, not a theatrical print.  Beginning with this film and continuing to Godzilla Tokyo SOS, English titles will be superimposed over Japanese titles.  When this film was released on DVD, it was cropped to a 4:3 aspect ratio by Pan & Scan.  The Title Card was not cropped but squished into the full frame.  The DVD did not have closing credits.  At the end of the DVD or Blu-ray, you get a copyright notice like the following instead of credits :



Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2014 Blu-ray
Toho 1980-1990s English 1.85:1 Logo
Japanese Title Card with English Subtitle
Truncated English Opening Credits
No Closing Credits

Classification : Tristar Print (slightly improved from GvKG)

Notes : When this film was released on DVD, it was cropped to a 4:3 aspect ratio by Pan & Scan.  The Title Card was not cropped but squished into the full frame.  At the end of the DVD or Blu-ray, you get a copyright notice instead of credits.   The true International version's title card has English text imposed over the Japanese text.  You can see it on the Godzilla wiki, although I believe that title was made for a Pan and Scan print, not a theatrical print.  

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2014
Tristar Logo
Japanese Title Card with English Subtitle
Truncated English Opening Credits
English Full Closing Credits

Classification : Modified International Print

Notes : The following frame shows an example of the Tristar Opening Credits :


Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2014 Blu-ray
Toho 1980-1990s English 1.85:1 Logo
Japanese Title Card with Superimposed English Title
English Full Opening Credits
English Full Closing Credits

Classification : Pure International Print

Notes : The following stills show what true International opening and closing credits should look like.  Note the thicker lines compared to the Tristar font and the lack of serifs compared to the font of the 1960 and early 1970s.  

We have come to the mostly pure International version releases.  Unfortunately, the pure versions have their drawback, the inventive, artistic and colorful Japanese titles are obscured by the large white superimposed English text.




Godzilla vs. Destroyah


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2014 Blu-ray
Toho 1980-1990s English 1.85:1 Logo
Japanese Title Card with Superimposed English Title
English Full Opening Credits
English Full Closing Credits

Classification : Pure International Print

Rebirth of Mothra


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray 2014
Tristar Logo
Japanese Title Card with English Subtitle
Truncated English Opening Credits
English Full Closing Credits

Classification : Modified International Print

Rebirth of Mothra II


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray 2014
Tristar Logo
Truncated English Opening Credits
English Full Closing Credits

Classification : Modified International Print

Rebirth of Mothra III


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray 2014
Tristar Logo & Toho 1980-1990s English 1.85:1 Logo
Japanese Title Card with Superimposed English Title
English Full Opening Credits
English Full Closing Credits

Classification : Pure International Print (after the Tristar logo)

Notes : Unlike Rebirth Mothra 1 & 2, Mothra 3 was never released on DVD, so it was spared the Tristar treatment.  

Godzilla 2000




Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray 2014
U.S. Home Video Version (identical to theatrical relese except for removal of "The?End" title.)
Japanese Version

Notes : There is an International version of Godzilla 2000, but you won't find it here.  Sony commissioned its own dub for its theatrical release and cut the Japanese version by several minutes, which is inconsistent with a release of an International version.  The credits should be identical to the International version except for the U.S. version credits.  Note that for this film and the remaining films in the series except for Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah and Godzilla: Final Wars, there are no opening credits, just the title credit.

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray 2014
Toho 2000-2010s 2.39:1 English logo
Japanese Title Card with Superimposed English Title
No Opening Credits
Full Closing Credits

Classification : Pure International Print

Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray 2014
Tristar Logo & Toho 2000-2010s 2.39:1 English logo
Japanese Title Card with Superimposed English Title
Full Opening Credits (with different font)
Full Closing Credits

Classification : Pure International Print (after the Tristar logo)

Notes : A sample of the replacement font used in the opening titles :




Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray 2014
Toho 2000-2010s 2.39:1 English logo
Japanese Title Card with Superimposed English Title
No Opening Credits
Full Closing Credits

Classification : Pure International Print

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray 2014
Tristar Logo & Toho 2000-2010s 2.39:1 English logo
No Opening Credits
Full Closing Credits

Classification : Pure International Print (after the Tristar logo)

Godzilla: Final Wars


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray 2014
Toho 1950-1960s 2.35:1 TohoScope logo
Unique Title and Opening Credits
Full Closing Credits


Classification : Pure International Print

Notes : Given the unique title card and opening design, I believe the International version is the only version of this film and the sole distinguishing feature of the Japanese versus the International print is the language of the end credits.

Toho Color Widescreen Logos throughout the Years

The Toho logo has been remarkably consistent over the years.  Toho has been using the same basic logo design since the 1940s.  In the 1950s they updated it for color, then for the anamorphic widescreen TohoScope format.  In the 1960s, they dropped the "TohoScope" because its films were being made exclusively in the anamorphic widescreen format.  By the 1980s Toho had shifted away from using anamorphic widescreen and the films from this period use a different logo.  In the 21st century, wider widescreen film processes were back in vogue and so the logo reverted to something similar to the 1960s logos.  

1950s-1960s TohoScope 2.35:1 Logo


1960s-1970s 2.35:1 Japanese Logo
1960s-1970s 2.35:1 English Logo
1980s-1990s 1.85:1 Japanese Logo
1980s-1990s 1.85:1 Japanese Logo
2000s-2010s 2.39:1 Japanese Logo

2000s-2010s 2.39:1 English Logo

No comments: