Godzilla vs. Gigan is a Japanese Giant Monster Movie released in 1972 and the 12th film in the Godzilla series. Much like other Godzilla film’s released in the 1970’s, the film was made on a low-budget and used a lot of stock footage from previous films to make up some of the film. One key use of stock however is entirely unique to this film: The Soundtrack. In fact, if this piece of stock wasn’t used, we may never have heard one of the most memorable tracks in the entire series. Akira Ifukube; the long time composer for the Godzilla series, who in addition to scoring most of the entries in the series, also created Godzilla’s legendary and iconic roar!
Ifukube was given credit for scoring this film: however, most of the film’s soundtrack actually came from previous films! Now, not including Godzilla’s own theme which he is of course allowed to carry from film to film; this film’s score came from several films from the Godzilla series as well as other’s including Atragon, Frankenstein Conquers the World, and King Kong Escapes. It’s not these themes though which I draw your attention too (although Atragon‘s main theme is brilliant). No, in fact the main title theme for this film doesn’t even come from a film. It’s still stock don’t get me wrong, but it was never originally composed for a film. In fact this score was composed 2 whole years before this film was even released.
In 1970, Japan hosted the Osaka Expo. It was a World’s Fair hosted in Suita Osaka, with the overall theme being ‘Progress and Harmony for Mankind’. Most of the event space is now a large park with very little reminders of what was once there. At the Osaka Expo; there were many attractions installations, things to see and do, and overall was a major success, being one of the most attended world’s fair’s in history, only being surpassed by Shanghai in 2010. Among the many pavilions at the expo; there was one from Mitsubishi known as the Mitsubishi Pavilion because that’s where most of the finance came from. The pavilion though was actually produced by Toho producer and Godzilla creator Tomoyuki Tanaka. The theme of the pavilion was ‘Nature in Japan’, and guests could view video installations on a moving walk-way. The images shown included Volcanos, a Storm, the Sea, and Skies of Japan. The installations also came with music unique to each vision, all of them produced by Akira Ifukube. It’s these themes and pieces which became some of the more prominent and standout pieces of the soundtrack for Godzilla vs Gigan. The theme for the main title of the film, is the one used to represent the Volcano, while the sad tune used during Godzilla’s possible defeat by the Space Monsters was the piece used to represent the Storm. These two pieces stand out most for me: in particular the main theme has stayed with me ever since the first time I saw Godzilla vs Gigan over 20 years ago. If it wasn’t for the decision of the film’s producers to re-use these pieces of music, there is a strong chance that these pieces of music may never have been heard by the world outside the Osaka Expo.
Godzilla vs Gigan as a film does have a large amount of pre-used stock in its belly, but it’s not a bad film overall. The film is very dark in tone and vision and also features a tag team tussle with Godzilla and Anguirus taking on Gigan and King Ghidorah (and a familiar looking building). It creates and weaves a very interesting story on the human level, as well as a dark and twisted monster fight that even sees Godzilla bleed for the first time. All of this is backed up by a soundtrack, though while not made for the film originally, is still a brilliant and deeply dark fit.