Cryptic photo posted August 22, 2011 on Criteron's Facebook page...
"You may wish to deny it; but your eyes tell you it's true!"
Thanks to several insiders associated with the Criterion Collection, I was notified several months ago that Janus Films had acquired the rights to the original GODZILLA (1954), for a possible — and proper — DVD & BD release in the near future. More tell-tale signs that this was indeed a strong possibility, appeared on Criterion's Hulu page earlier this summer, which began offering free viewings of the Americanized version of the original, GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS! (1956), starring Raymond Burr. This was shortly, and unceremoniously, joined by the original, uncut Japanese version with English Subtitles (both were available for free viewing without a subscription to Hulu Plus). Perhaps this was a teaser of something in the works? Could it be a dream coming true after 20 years: A deluxe, Criterion Collection Edition of GODZILLA, Spine #600?
"He must've had too much Sake."
Fans began speculation, in which some self-procalimed "authorities" doubted this possibility (citing Classic Media's licenses to both versions) or speculated/proclaimed that Criterion would only be able to gain access to Toho's recent HD Broadcast masters (used for their domestic BD releases, which still falls short of a very much needed complete restoration), fundamentally underestimating the core of what makes Criterion/Janus Films tick. Then, without warning, both films were pulled from Criterion's Hulu page as rumors (from insider sources) mounted that Criterion was indeed plotting to unleash both films on Home Video. Then, this afternoon, Criterion posted a cryptic photo of a film can — emblazoned in Japanese writing — on their Official Facebook page, which received over a hundred "likes", and numerous comments, all within two hours. Few could read the label on the film can — which translates: "Dupe Posi(tive): GODZILLA. Reel 2 of 10 Reels. Toho Company, Ltd."!
"You have your fear, which might become reality; and you have Godzilla, which is reality."
This immediately washes away any concerns over such a forthcoming release being a shovelware port of the Japanese BD or an upgrade from the aforementioned HD Broadcast Master from Toho — it would appear that Criterion is going to master this from the Interpositive elements! Such a move bodes well for a long overdue and desperately needed restoration for a film that suffers from a number of physical blemishes and damage, beyond the insulting "spackling" done with DVNR (digital video noise reduction) filtering — hardly addressing the real issues the original negative suffers from. If Criterion can conjure the same painstaking and meticulous alchemy bestowed upon their release of Kurosawa's timeless masterpiece, SEVEN SAMURAI (1954), which also suffered from many of the same ills as GODZILLA, then both cinephiles and genre fans, alike, will have a much justified reason to celebrate: A proper presentation to honor the legacies of Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya — at long last.