Return of Godzilla (1984)

The cover of the CD Sountrack to 1984′s Godzilla a.k.a. The Return of Godzilla.

Composed by: Reijiro Koroku

Though his franchise had died out in the 70s, it was only a matter of time before Godzilla made his comeback. The Japanese public regained enough interest in the character for Toho to resurrect the films. Toho started with a near-clean slate. Return of Godzilla was a direct sequel to the first film, the rest of the Showa series now one of two film continuities. The 1984 film was a return to basics. Godzilla was once again a destructive force of nature and instead of fighting another monster he was back to squaring off against the Japanese military whilst serving as an allegory for contemporary political and environmental issues. The film is alright. There was obviously more of a budget compared to Godzilla’s late 60s and 70s adventures, but most of the characters are very unmemorable (an exception is a bum who takes advantage of the chaos to provide himself a free meal). The strongest aspect is the incorporation of later Cold War politics, with the Americans and Soviet Russians getting involved with their own agendas. For a very long time the movie was not available in America on DVD or Blu-ray and thus tended to be overlooked, even though it kickstarted a whole new series of films for Godzilla fans to enjoy.

The music itself, like the film, is alright. Godzilla’s number one composer Akira Ifukube did not come back. Reijiro Koroku took on his duties. Koroku’s score is quite different from what Ifukube would produce. It sounds much closer to an American orchestral score. Godzilla’s new theme in “Main Title” is a sinister fanfare. It’s presence at the start of the film is effective, as the imagery onscreen are walls of flame. It gives off a strong atmosphere of apocalyptic dread. The longest treatment of this material is “Godzilla Appears at Nihama” and “Godzilla Appearance,” which turns into a rhythmic action piece with two note increments. This secondary action motif is somewhat similar to the theme from Jaws, but not to the point of being a rip-off. There is a love theme that figures prominently near the end of the film, appearing less fully early on in “Hayashida Laboratory” and “Your Brother Lives.” The love sub-plot in the film is quite weak, undeserving of this rather nice theme.

The theme is very heavy on the romance and would not be out of place in a John Barry score. The strongest themes belong to the military. “Japanese Army March” is the more general theme, while the flying hovercraft Super-X has its own heroic fanfare (0:39 in “Super-X Mobilization”). The weakest aspect of Koroku’s music is more of an album issue. There are many very brief cues, some literally under ten seconds long. Since the bulk of these cues are chronologically bunched, they could have been edited into a single, if slightly disjointed track. Some of the underscore is also unmemorable when one of the themes isn’t playing. The tracks backing up Godzilla’s destructive sprees focus more on dread and horror, which is effective in the film, but doesn’t sustain the listener’s attention as well on album as one of Ifukube’s themes would.

The album closes with a cheesy Japanese pop song called “Goodbye Sweetheart Godzilla.” Apparently this is a love song linked to the monster. The American version of the film (which deleted many scenes and replaced it with new ones with American actors) chose to excise this song and replace it with a suite of Koroku’s score.

The Return of Godzilla is a solid musical entry. I really like the military marches, but the themes in general aren’t as memorable. Perhaps because of the film’s often overlooked status and spotty releases in American media the music did not gel with Godzilla fans growing up in the 90s and oughties.

Rating: 6/10

Tracklist

  1. Main Title (M1-T2)
  2. The Enormous Shadow (M2)
  3. Victim (M3)
  4. The Mysterious Creature (M4)
  5. The True Identity of the Enormous Creature (M5)
  6. Hayashida Research Institute (M6)
  7. Maki and Naoko (M7)
  8. The Soviet Nuclear Submarine’s Crisis (M8)
  9. The Terror in the Ocean’s Depths (M9)
  10. The Ban is Lifted on the News (M10)
  11. Report I (M11)
  12. Naoko’s Sorrow (M12-T2)
  13. The Search for the Enemy Begins (M12A)
  14. Godzilla Emerges at the Ihama Nuclear Power Plant (M13)
  15. The Destruction of the Nuclear Power Plant (M14)
  16. Report II (M14A)
  17. The Mt. Mihara Crater (M15)
  18. US-Soviet Special Envoys Arrive (M16)
  19. To the Prime Minister’s Relief (M17)
  20. Soviet Nuclear Satellite (M33A)
  21. Emergency Evacuation Ordered (M18)
  22. The Self-Defense Forces go to Mt. Mihara (M18A)
  23. Coast Lookout Preparations (M18B)
  24. Godzilla Appears (M19)
  25. Baramebo (M20)
  26. Godzilla Devastates Yurakucho (M21-T2)
  27. The Guidance Strategy Begins (M22)
  28. Deserted Streets (M23)
  29. The Life of the Town (M23A)
  30. Godzilla and the Magnetic Substance (M24)
  31. The Super-X Mobilizes (M25)
  32. Nuclear Missile Launch (M27)
  33. The Missile Draws Near (M28)
  34. The Giant Beast Collapses (M29)
  35. Evacuation Ordered (M30)
  36. Super High-Rise Rescue (M31)
  37. The Two who were Left Behind (M32)
  38. The Desire to Live (M33)
  39. Nuclear Resolution (M34)
  40. The Red Sky (M34A)
  41. Thunder (M35E)
  42. The Awakening of the Giant Beast I (M35A)
  43. The Awakening of the Giant Beast II (M35B)
  44. The Awakening of the Giant Beast III (M35B’)
  45. The Awakening of the Giant Beast IV (M35C)
  46. The Awakening of the Giant Beast V (M35D)
  47. Godzilla vs. the Super-X (M36)
  48. The Urban Center Inferno (M37)
  49. The Terror of Godzilla (M38)
  50. The Crimson City (M39)
  51. Godzilla Heads to Oshima (M40)
  52. Godzilla Arrives at Oshima (M41)
  53. Godzilla Falls into Mt. Mihara (M42)
  54. “Godzilla” Ending (M43B-T3) [by The Star Sisters]
  55. Godzilla Falls into Mt. Mihara (M42B)
  56. Ending (M43)
  57. Main Title (M1-T1)
  58. Naoko’s Sorrow (M12-T1)
  59. Godzilla Devastates Yurakucho (M21-T1)
  60. The Life of the Town (M23 + M23A)
  61. US-Soviet Special Envoys Arrive (M15A + M16A)
  62. The Super-X Mobilizes (M25 Edit)
  63. Good-bye Sweetheart Godzilla [by Yasuko Sawaguchi; Composer Takashi Miki]