There’s a lot about Godzilla, the legendary granddaddy of all kaiju, that makes him a genre icon even today; his atomic breath attack, his penchant for mindless urban destruction, his unfathomable size, his reptilian visage, and his existence as a walking metaphor for nuclear terror make up just a few of the King of the Monsters’ most essential traits. But there’s one thing more that makes Godzilla such a memorable screen presence, and it’s not something that you see – rather, it’s something that you hear.
After all, what is Godzilla without his roar? That’s the big question tackled by the above featurette, released in anticipation of Gareth Edwards’ upcoming Godzilla. While quite brief, the clip nonetheless dissects the process of making an updated, monstrous bellow for the big guy that still rings with the same impact it held back in 1954 – the year when Ishiro Honda first unleashed the beast he created with special effects producer Eiji Tsuburaya and producer Tomoyuki Tanaka upon an unsuspecting movie-going audience.
When it comes to a character like Godzilla, it doesn’t help to skimp on the details, and to that end, Edwards and co. – including sound designer Erik Aadahl, producer Thomas Tull, and actor Bryan Cranston – have each pitched in a few words about the power of the roar (not to mention a couple roars of their own) and what it means to an audience brought up on Godzilla films. Anyone who has ever sat through even just one of these pictures can attest to the aural power of Godzilla’s primal howl; no matter how many sound effects we may hear in all the movies we see, that cacophonous blast surely stands out among all the rest.
Tull’s own thoughts on Godzilla’s roar likely mirror those shared by the majority of viewers, for whom the experience of hearing that noise for the first time was revelatory. It’s a sound unlike any other, one that becomes immediately, irrevocably recognizable once it reaches your ears; you know that you’re listening to Godzilla, and you know that he’s on a rampage, the minute he lets loose with that immortal growl.
That sonic quality led Edwards and his crew to concoct around fifty – fifty! – different versions of the roar to make sure that they got the most perfectly Godzilla-esque take possible. The idea that dozens of variations on the roar went into making the new film is kind of stunning, and while it might seem like a minor element on paper, it’s yet more evidence supporting Edwards’ hiring for the project: he’s committed to getting Godzilla right, from the visual aspect to everything in between.
But will he truly nail it? Promo content from “minor” bits like this, to the numerous, excellent trailers cut to market the film, suggest yes, and his devotion to realizing the character as best as he possibly can is hard to deny. We’ll see if his efforts pay off in just a couple of weeks.
Godzilla arrives in US theaters on May 16th, 2014.