Source: The Telegraph
Godzilla: why the monster movie has no heroine
Godzilla reduces its women to supporting roles but an early script had a heroine at the centre, the director reveals
Godzilla featured a heroine at its centre before the role was excised in favour of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s brooding hero, the director has disclosed.
The action epic stars Taylor-Johnson as a bomb disposal expert out to save the world, and Bryan Cranston as his scientist father.
Women are notable by their absence from leading roles. Actresses Juliette Binoche and Elizabeth Olsen appear in the cast as either wives or assistants, and their portrayal has come in for criticism – Indiewire noted that “the most frustrating aspect of the uninspired cast is a strange neglect of the story’s female characters”.
Sally Hawkins, Oscar-nominated earlier this year for Blue Jasmine, is required to “express worry when the camera calls for it” and little more.
The Hollywood Reporter referred to Olsen’s “thankless role” as Taylor-Johnson’s wife, while Empire’s critic wrote that “a criminally under-utilised Elizabeth Olsen is a wife-mother-nurse permanently stuck on the end of a phone”.
It could all have been different, according to director Gareth Edwards, who conceded that women play secondary roles in the film.
“We had a version of the screenplay that had a heroine in the film,” Edwards disclosed at a press conference in London.
“But you’ve got to pick a hero and we ended up with a male, and then everything supports the hero in some way.
“But I totally understand what you’re saying. My favourite film like this is Alien, or Aliens, and I think there are so many great examples [of female characters].
“If we get lucky and there’s a sequel or anything like that, then I very much take [the criticism] on board.”
He joked: “This is probably a good time to point out that Godzilla is actually a female. At the last minute we changed it from Godzilla, Queen of the Monsters…”
Edwards’ last film was Monsters, made on a tiny budget of £250,000 with special effects created in his bedroom.
The shock of being chosen to direct the big budget Godzilla still overcomes him.
“This is just so surreal that if I think about it for too long I either start to get emotional or I start to get the shakes. I can’t process it. I can’t process what’s happened,” he said.
“You do a small film, there’s five of you. And you enter this massive movie where there’s 300 people and it makes a massive difference. But then you drive onto set and you’re in a bubble. They drive you straight to the camera and you don’t meet anybody, you get out, all you speak to all day long is the assistant director, the cameraman and the actors.
“And you literally just know five people. The most embarrassing thing is I go to wrap parties and I don’t know anybody.”
Making the film was the hardest experience of his life, Edwards admitted.
“Dreaming of the film is a lot of fun; it’s where you can just close your eyes and imagine everything you want to say. Showing the film is a lot of fun. But the middle bit feels like war.”
If the film meets box office expectations, a sequel will be greenlit – and one with some decent female characters, if Edwards gets his way.
For the moment he does not want to “jinx” the film by talking about a sequel. He said: “Let’s just see how it plays out, see how people react and respond. If it all goes well… we’ll try and figure it out.”