Lizard men

Big is beautiful, so they say —- and ROLAND EMMERICH and DEAN DEVLIN should know. After taking over the world with Independence Day, they've created a monster in Godzilla.

Words: Nigel Floyd

How do you follow the phenomenal world-wide success of alien invasion movie little/mulenee Duy‘.’ Director Roland limmerich and producer Dean Devlin were torn between two projects: one about a giant asteroid on collision Course with liarth. the other a re- make of the classic l‘)53 Japanese ‘man-in-a-rubber—suit‘ monster movie. Gujim.

But when Patrick 'l'atopoulos presented them with his design for a new giant lizard. the pair immediately entered into negotiations with 'l‘oho. the Japanese company built on the 22-film Godzilla franchise. [The Gojira/(iodzilla ambiguity is the result of a mis- hearing during the dubbing of the l953 film for American audiences.| The challenge. explains Devlin. was how to modernise the story and the creature without losing the innocent audience appeal of the original.

‘When [Japanese producer] 'l‘omoyuki Tanaka was flying over the Bikini lslands nuclear test site and he came up with the Gojira concept. what was his hope about how an audience would feel when they first saw the movie before they had 22 other movies to associate it with. before it had become a franchise‘." the producer asks.

26 THE llST 9--23 Jul 1998

'Our creature is more svelte, agile and lethal, and it can burrow, swim and run at 200 miles an hour.’ Dean Devlin

Everything's bigger in America: Godzilla goes walkabout

‘We tried to get back to that spirit.‘ he continues. ‘taking classic monster movie elements from the original story. but using the finest special effects technology available today. Our creature is more svelte. agile and lethal. and it can burrow. swim and run at 2()() miles an hour. which means he has other ways of escaping death. rather than just being impervious to all man-made weapons. We wanted to create a Godzilla movie that worked for today‘s audiences. but which was still true to the spirit of what that very first Japanese movie was all about.‘

For limmerich. despite all the cutting-edge special effects. the essence of Godzilla was that it should be a classic monster movie. ‘A classic monster movie requires three things.‘ he reckons. ‘l’irstly. the monster is not responsible or being monster. In I’mn/u'nstein. the monster is created by the doctor. and in King Kong. it‘s not the monster‘s fault that he is captured and brought to New York. Secondly. the monster is not responsible for its own destructive behaviour. it just wants to survive. Thirdly. the monster is a tragic figure. because it must die at the end.‘

The need to balance (iodzilla's destructiveness with an underlying sympathy for the magnificent. trapped beast. sometimes made it difficult for director [Emmerich to sustain a consistent tone.

"l'he tricky part was having Godzilla go through all this reactive. instinctive and destructive behaviour. but also having to arrive at a point. near the end. where the audience could feel sympathy for the fallen monster.’ he says. ‘So the last 50 minutes of the movie are a rollercoaster. not just in the kinetic sense. but also in an emotional sense. because so many different emotions come in at such a fast speed. It was quite risky to do it like that.‘

General release from Fri 17 Jul. See feature and review.

Rough cuts

The column that sneaks onto the set.

EVERYONE HAS BAD hair days, but director Kevin Allen of Twin Town fame is looking particularly off- colour. His closely cropped thatch has been dyed blond not in solidarity with the Romanian football team, but for his small role as Craig Ferguson's Welsh boyfriend in 19 M’Appelle Crawford.

Ferguson himself is on good form. Here he is revisiting some of his old * Glasgwegian haunts, back home i with his biggest project to date a film which he stars in and co-wrote for Hollywood studio Warner Bros. The cast and crew popped over to Scotland for a few days after six weeks shooting in America, and The List caught up with them at Mr Singh's India in Glasgow’s Elderslie 1 Street.

Best known as a stand-up j comedian and for TV’s The Ferguson Theory, Ferguson plays Crawford MacKenzie, a Scottish hairdresser who mistakenly thinks he has been invited to Los Angeles to compete in the prestigious Platinum Scissors Award.

'We pitched it as "Rocky in curlers",' says Ferguson of the film Warner Bros hopes will be next year's The Full Monty. 'We were lucky that this is the kind of film that the studios want to make. Some years it’s science fiction blockbusters, other years it's a movie like Titanic. This year, it's gay Scottish hairdressers. It's a classic fish-out-of-water story, about how a gallus Glaswegian can succeed in Los Angeles.’

Now, however, it’s time to join the extras in the restaurant for a scene in which a party is thrown for Crawford before he heads off to the States. Ferguson's part requires him to greet friends, shake hands, accept pats on the back. It’s as much a homecoming for the actor as a farewell for the character.

(Alan Morrison)

Hair piece: Craig Ferguson takes to the big screen