director Kimiyoshi Yasuda
Daimajin, where have you been all my life?
I grew up loving Godzilla and with a general love for Japanese kaiju films (while having no idea of the term “kaiju”). Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s information was a lot more obscure. I’ve said it before and I’ll saying it again: I love the internet and Wikipedia. Knowing is a billion times better than living in the dark.
Still, Daimajin. I can’t say for sure that I never saw images of Daimajin or its two sequels, but I can say that I really didn’t know virtually anything about them. Finding the first two films on Amazon Prime, I feel enlightened.
Unlike most kaiju films, Daimajin is set in the Edo period, the world of samurai, peasants, feudal strife. The film opens with a coup d’etat that unseats the kind ruling family, forcing the survivors to run into hiding. While the new regime metes out endless punishments, the devout and humble pray to their giant stone god, Daimajin. The villains even go so far as to attempt to mutilate the giant statue. But this is not only a vengeful god, but one who actually comes to life and stomps down the evil ones.
He’s kind of a giant Golem (1920), if you will, though classically Japanese.
Really, it takes most of the duration of the film before Daimajin awakens and wreaks havoc, apparently a consistent theme in all three films. The films were all shot and released in short succession in 1966.
The thing is, the film is very well-produced. It looks beautiful and the special effects are very nice, not as campy as when Godzilla gets on a rampage. And I just really liked the damn movie.