The new species, which has not yet been named, was a colossal beast. Its thigh bone alone is longer than an adult human being, and altogether it was estimated to measure 65 feet in height and 140 feet in length. The animal was a plant-eater and a type of sauropod — dinosaurs with long necks and long tails that those of us who grew up in the ’60s learned to call a “brontosaurus,” the “thunder lizard” species of dinosaur that now is believed to have never actually existed –– except as the quarry vehicle used by Fred Flintstone and served in rib form at the Bedrock drive-in. (That’s science for you.)
The newly discovered dinosaur is thought to have weighed 77 tons, as much as 14 fully grown African elephants. In short, the largest land animals of the modern world, which seem so large and ponderous to us, would have been dwarfed by this gigantic dinosaur. Imagine standing near a creature that was as tall as a seven-story building and could shake the ground with each step! It gives an entirely new plausibility to Godzilla movies.
Godzilla is returning to the big screen next year. The teaser trailer for the movie is out, and it looks like the film will have many of the elements that have made the Godzilla franchise a classic: a city laid waste, terrified running crowds, commuter rail cars ripped to smithereens — and Godzilla’s trademark shriek.
Of course, among the things that will be lacking are the stunt guy in the rubbery suit who portrayed Godzilla, the clearly fake buildings being stepped on and destroyed by the King of Monsters, and the cheesy special effects as Godzilla encountered and fought giant moths and other oversized and bizarre creatures. One of the delights of the original Godzilla was the spliced-in footage of Raymond Burr playing a reporter covering the carnage caused by Godzilla’s emergence, which was added as an obvious afterthought in a studio effort to make the movie more palatable to American audiences. All of that will be gone now, replaced by state of the art computer-generated images and devastation.
The Godzilla films have been interesting for a lot of reasons. Godzilla helped to reintroduce Japan to America after World War II and led the way for the much more significant cultural and business interaction that was to come in later years. Godzilla also tapped a core fear of atomic power in the post-nuclear age, and was the first true environmental disaster film. And the enduring power of Godzilla himself became clear when, in later movies, Godzilla morphed from a mindless engine of destruction into a sensitive and sympathetic defender of Japan who was as much a victim of technology run amok as the poor wretches on the subway trains who were crushed in virtually every Godzilla movie.
And then one day Godzilla met Bambi in one of the greatest student films ever made.