In an interesting move, the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special has had it’s first tug into canon.
In the new Star Wars anthology book, From a Certain Point of View, there are 40 fun stories highlighting the ancillary characters in our favorite galaxy far, far away. The love and attention given to background characters in the Star Wars universe has long been a linchpin of its popularity starting with the release of the toys from the very first movie. Characters that had no lines and sometimes barely a second of screen time got a name, a figure and a back story. These would lay the foundation for some of the best Star Wars literature ever released. Although now cast to the “Legends” pile, the great “Tales of the Bounty Hunters” was one of my favorite examples of this. The story of Dengar and his wife saving Boba Fett is a classic… But I digress.
One of the stories contained in From a Certain Point of View is called, We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here by Chuck Wendig and is a fun little tale of Mos Eisley Cantina’s bartender, Wuher who mentions two characters by name, Ackmena and her wife Sorschi.
Why is this important?
BECAUSE IT MEANS THAT BEA ARTHUR’S CHARACTER ACKMENA FROM THE FLIPPIN’ STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL IS NOW CANON AND THAT IS BOTH AWESOME AND HILARIOUS!!
Anyone who knows me, knows I have a love for a LOT of different things. Some wonder how I can keep track of it all, but I’d say if you ask the people who really know me what my favorite things are, they’ll tell you, tacos, coffee, road trips, Dinosaur Jr, cardigan sweaters, and Godzilla.
So it is with a very, very heavy heart that today, we say goodbye to Haruo Nakajima. Better known as Godzilla.
Not just ANY Godzilla either. Nakajima was THE original King of Monsters in the 1954 film. However, perhaps more importantly, he remained to play Godzilla in throughout the Showa era until his retirement from the role, ending with 1972’s Godzilla vs Gigan. These are the Godzilla movies that most of us who grew up with them know and love the best. From starting out as the frightening, then transforming to the goofy, the crazy, the occasionally trippy, the monster, the hero. The King.
Below this, I’ve listed all the kaiju movies he’s done. You’ll notice that he wasn’t JUST Godzilla. He was the original Mothra, Rodan and Mogera as well as a host of others.
Outside of the beloved Kaiju movies, he was also in a few of Akira Kurosawa’s famous samurai film, notably, Seven Samurai.
Nakjima is still considered the best suit actor ever. To the Japanese film industry, he was what Andy Serkis now is to mocap. You knew when he was in that suit because he had certain moves, the way he walked, fought, waved his hands around, reacted to things… So many people are dismissive of Godzilla movies as rubber-monster-camp. To an extent they’re right. Just watch some of the goofier entries. I won’t deny the campiness of those films. What you can’t be dismissive of, is the talent that really brought Godzilla to life for so many of us. I’ve often said that the greatest actors are the ones that make you forget who’s behind the portrayal. With the heavy suits on though, Nakajima instead reminded us who was inside the portrayal.
In an interview, he was asked, “What is Godzilla to you?” and his response nails it;
He’s my partner! He’s my partner. He can’t be a character without me, but I get inside and he’s the boss.
He’s the boss, but I’m his partner. We can’t stand alone. We’re partners because we share the same feelings.
The wonderful thing is, he never stopped being a hero to legions and generations of kaiju fans. Up to this past year, he was still making the rounds. Hitting the convention circuit, always smiling, always happy to meet new and younger fans. He was kind and humble for his station. In this new age of CGI, as wild as it is, you can never replace the fun and heart of those older films.
Just as you can never replace Haruo Nakajima.
Here’s a short video of the last time Nakjima donned the Godzilla mantel. In 1983. The suit he’s wearing here was made for Godzilla’s 25th Anniversary in 1979. However, the wonderful thing is, once he’s going, he IS Godzilla. Those classic, signature moves, the stance… That’s love.
1954 – Godzilla (Godzilla, Newspaper Writer)
1955 – Godzilla Raids Again (Godzilla)
1956 – Rodan (Rodan, Meganulon, JSDF Officer)
1957 – The Mysterians (Mogera, JDSF Officer)
1958 – Varan the Unbelievable (Varan)
1961 – Mothra (Mothra)
1962 – King Kong vs. Godzilla (Godzilla)
1963 – Matango (Matango)
1963 – Atragon
1964 – Mothra vs. Godzilla (Godzilla)
1964 – Dogora, the Space Monster
1964 – Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (Godzilla)
1965 – Frankenstein vs. Baragon (Baragon)
1965 – Invasion of the Astro-Monster (Godzilla)
1966 – The War of the Gargantuas (Gaira)
1966 – Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (Godzilla)
1967 – Son of Godzilla (Godzilla; water scenes only)
1967 – King Kong Escapes (King Kong)
1968 – Destroy All Monsters (Godzilla, Military Adviser)
1969 – Latitude Zero (Gryphon, Manbat, Giant Rat, Lion)
1969 – All Monsters Attack (Godzilla)
1970 – Space Amoeba (Gezora, Ganime)
1971 – Godzilla vs. Hedorah (Godzilla)
1972 – Godzilla vs. Gigan (Godzilla, Comic Book Publisher, Defense Forces Officer)
And for some reason, people have a problem with it… Not that this surprises anyone.
This is a long and difficult post. However, I really need to get this off my chest.
A friend of mine and I had a good conversation a while back. It was about gender/race swapping comic book characters. He, as a black man, had some pretty good insights on the subject. Honestly, he’s one of the smartest geeks I know. He will beat you in quite a lot of comic book trivia. But ultimately his opinion boiled down to a simple truth;
If it doesn’t define the character, it doesn’t matter.
It’s a movie that you didn’t realize you wanted to see as bad as you want to see it. People don’t generally say, “Man, I loved Jumanji/Zathura”, but they do. For some reason none of us can explain, we love this series.
It’s like “Hackers”. Man, that was a cheesy movie, but not only will I watch it every time it’s on, I will sometimes just be in the mood to watch it. Why? I can’t explain it. It’s just fun.
This started out as a Facebook post. Then it got long. Then it turned into a story that I thought was better shared here. If you enjoy it, awesome. If you don’t, I get it. It’s long, but not as long as my wait for a song.
Earlier this week, Monday, April 17th, 2017, the halls of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida were quiet.
The four days earlier, however, were a different story.
This year celebrates 40 years of one of the largest, most beloved film franchises of all time, Star Wars. Since 1999, just before the release of the first prequel movie, The Phantom Menace, there has been intermittent gatherings of the fans as the Star Wars Celebration conventions have been held all around the world.
America, Japan, England, Germany….the phenomena that is Star Wars knows no boundaries and can be found in the hearts of fans of every age, gender, race, religion, culture, and creed. Many of them were in attendance at this past weekend’s Celebration, and Amanda and I were glad to be counted among the masses.
Day One – Thursday, April 13th, 2017
Acclimation. Learning the ropes. Looking around, eyes wide, and testing the waters before the real waves hit.