Remade as: Godzilla
The monster’s Japanese name, Gojira, is a mash-up of the words for “gorilla” and “whale,” as the original monster was supposed to be a combination of those two creatures. But the producers were reportedly inspired by an American movie, the sci-fi scarefest Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, to make it more like a dinosaur.
Hollywood remade the film almost immediately, first as Godzilla: King of the Monsters (in which a few new scenes starring Raymond Burr as an American reporter were inserted into the original Japanese film), and then, four decades later, as a mega-budget disaster movie set in New York instead of Tokyo, with a CGI monster instead of a man in a rubber lizard suit.
Of course, what the American remakes miss, besides the delightfully low-tech special effects, is the special relationship the Japanese developed with Godzilla, the radioactive monster born of the country’s unique experience as the only nation ever bombed by nuclear weapons, the monster that, in later movies, became both Japan’s destroyer and savior from even worse monsters.