‘An imprint of Godzilla: Deleuze, the action-image and universal history’

Deleuze and Film
Eds. David Martin-Jones and William Brown
Edinburgh University Press, 2012

This essay explores director Honda Ishiro’s 1954 monster flick Godzilla as a cultural artefact at the epicentre of Japanese cinema in the wake of the atom bomb. In respect to Deleuze’s taxonomy of film in the Cinema books, Godzilla becomes an example of what Deleuze calls an action-image imprint, the monster an object capturing up the emotions of Japanese post-war society.

Godzilla is constructed through what Deleuze calls the five laws of the action-image, laws which not only constitute the narration but also situate the story within a socio-historic environment aligned with Friedrich Nietzsche’s analysis of universal history.

Such an exploration of the film not only gathers up previous readings, but extends and turns them in new directions. Godzilla, it is often claimed, simply substitutes the rampaging monster for destructive atom bomb. ‘An imprint of Godzilla’ comes to a very different conclusion.

Available at Edinburgh University Press