This year’s Tokyo Film Festival closes this evening with the world premiere of Godzilla Minus One, the latest edition in Toho’s monster franchise, directed by filmmaker Takashi Yamazaki.
Alongside his directing duties on Godzilla Minus One, Yamazaki also wrote the screenplay and served as director of VFX. Set in Japan post-WW2, the pic opens as Godzilla appears and plunges the country into a negative state. The synopsis reads: Against the most desperate situation in the history of Japan, how — and with whom —will Japan stand up to it?
Godzilla Minus One is set for a local release on Nov 3 from Toho, while the Glasgow-based distribution outfit Anime Limited will release the pic in UK and Irish cinemas on December 15. The wide rollout will also include IMAX and 4DX screens.
Below, Yamazaki, whose previous features include Parasyte (2014), Fueled: The Man They Called Pirate (2016), and Lupin III: The First (2019), speaks to Deadline about joining the Godzilla franchise, why he’d turned down Godzilla in the past, and what his film says about contemporary Japan.
DEADLINE: The Tokyo Film Festival feels like the perfect place to debut a new Godzilla film. How are you feeling about the screening?
TAKASHI YAMAZAKI: In the past, it was standard practice for Godzilla movies produced almost every year to premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival. We are happy to be able to recreate this nostalgic tradition at this year’s festival.
DEADLINE: There are so many beloved films in the Godzilla franchise. What is your relationship to the franchise? Do you remember the first Godzilla film you saw?
YAMAZAKI: There was once a time when Toho kaiju movies, including Godzilla, were broadcast when professional baseball games were canceled due to rain, and I believe that was how my relationship with Godzilla began. Eventually, I learned through comics that there were people who made monster movies as a career, and that is what led me to my current job as a filmmaker.
DEADLINE: How did this film come to you?
YAMAZAKI: I had been approached several times but turned it down until my team’s technology was capable of expressing the Godzilla I had envisioned. After seeing Shin Godzilla, my motivation increased, and my technology evolved considerably. I was once again formally approached and decided to give it a try.
DEADLINE: Alongside directing and writing, you’re listed as a visual effects supervisor on Godzilla. How involved were you in the visual effects? And how did you balance this work with directing?
YAMAZAKI: In my mind, there is no big difference between directing and directing VFX. I imagine the project, have them try it out, correct anything that is different from my vision, and finish it as I want it to be within the limited time and budget as much as possible. Both are the same way to get the job done.
DEADLINE: Toho’s Godzilla films have always been distinctly different from the American-produced Godzilla films. What do you think of the American interpretation?
YAMAZAKI: Toho’s Godzilla is pictured as both a monster and a god, while American-produced Godzilla seems to have a more monstrous flavor.
DEADLINE: The Godzilla films have always been very clever political metaphors about the time they were released. What does this film say about contemporary Japan?
YAMAZAKI: I am hoping that people will feel the reality of a government that doesn’t do much in the face of national emergencies and that things do not go very well without civil initiative to resolve them. Also, the results of cronyism and disregard for life.