October 31, 2010 Leave a Comment
(1961) director Eugène Lourié
Amazingly, I’d never seen Gorgo before. I remember for years seeing stills of it and reading about it but for whatever reason, I’d just plain never seen it before. Despite that, it seemed like a good film for me to screen with the kids for our close-to-Halloween night movie.
Directed by Eugène Lourié, whose The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) I had just watched with Felix a week before, Gorgo, unlike The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a giant rubber-suited monster movie monster, like Gojira (1954), not like the stop-motion animated monsters of Ray Harryhausen. It’s most interesting considering how it’s a non-Japanese production using monster designs and special effects techniques generally associated with Japanese monster movies. Though, frankly, the special effects are a little more radical and interesting than your average Godzilla movie.
Set in Ireland and England, the story starts with an underwater volcanic eruption which seems to loose several strange species of fish…and a big old dinosaur-like monster. A money-hungry captain agrees to try to capture the creature and succeeds in doing so, ultimately selling his catch to a circus promoter in Battersea Park in London. This is what gives the Godzilla-like giant monster a bit more of a King Kong (1933) sort of feel, with modern mad exploiting a strange, great beast for profit…and paying the price.
But what is fun and funny about Gorgo is that Gorgo, which is the name that the promoters of the circus have given the creature, is that Gorgo turns out to be a baby Gorgo. And Gorgo’s mom is the one that the scientists, military, and the rest of London, England need to worry about. Because she comes for her baby. And in doing so she manages to destroy London Bridge, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Picadilly Circus en route to her rescue. In this film, the humans are the misguided monsters and the monsters are the “humane” and caring beings.
Apparently, Lourié made Gorgo in response to his daughter, who had seen his previous films of monsters wreaking havoc on civilization and decried him as a “bad daddy” for killing the monster in the end of the film. So he came up with an unusual monster movie in which the monsters are both sympathetic and also not sacrificed to the ignorance of mankind.
And I have to say, I liked the movie (as did Felix and Clara), but I would perhaps have liked it a lot when I was their age. It’s kind of a shame it took me so long to finally see it. But I’m glad we did.