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THEOMACHY IN THE THEATER:
on the Fringes of the Collective Amnesia

Copyright©  June, 1975 by John V. Myers and Lewis M. Greeberg      Summer 1975

Prologue

No one who critically examines mythic texts with Velikovskian eyes can fail to be impressed by the tenacity with which clues to the true nature of a transmuted cataclysm survive the ingenious workings of the collective amnesia. (1)

So far as we are aware, no Japanese studio has yet produced a film dealing explicitly with either the atomic destruction of Hiroshima [1] and Nagasaki or the equally devastating firebombing of Tokyo.  This fact is, in itself, interesting enough, but we have something else in mind.

Within a few years of these events (less than a decade to be exact), a steady stream of monster movies began to pour from the Land of the Rising Sun.(2)  In their scripts, the scene is frequently (though not always) Tokyo, and the names of Hiroshima* and Nagasaki are never mentioned.  World War II and fire bombs are never mentioned.  There is no specific reference to the atomic bomb in a martial context although casual and rare allusions are sometimes made to radioactivity and H-Bomb tests.(3) There is even one isolated instance of an atomic heat-cannon being ineffectually employed against a moth of monstrous size.(4) But for all that, there is a definite repression of the use or mention of atomic weaponry despite the fact that Japanese monster movies explore the most advanced realms of science-fiction.

Saurian Nightmare

The overwhelming havoc which inevitably occurs in these movies is directed principally at physical installations; consequently, considerable human life is lost in the process as well.  Destruction appears to be indiscriminate and its modus operandi totally haphazard and irrational.  The primary agents of this destruction are invariably huge and monstrous saurians (two notable exceptions are a giant moth−Mothra−and a resurrected King Kong).

The first and foremost of the great primordial saurians to appear on the scene (or, if one prefers, the silver screen) bears, appropriately enough, the Anglicized theophoric name Godzilla.(5) "The monster, shaken from its long slumber by American A-bomb [in reality H-bomb] tests at Bikini Atoll, and given by the bomb a fiery, radioactive halitosis, ravage[s] Tokyo several times before being brought to an end."(6)

            Godzilla's "death" at the hands of a modern-styled Japanese St. George− Dr. Serizawa− "a self-sacrificing Japanese scientist, who dis­solves the monster and himself in Tokyo Bay"(7) is only temporary. how­ever.  The Pandora's Box of monsters, once opened, is not so easily closed.  Like the unstoppable broom of Walt Disney's Fantasia or the nightmarish monsters released in the art of the Swiss-born painter Fuseli(8) and the Spanish artist Goya,(9) Godzilla returns again and again often accompanied by an entirely new array of monsters each uniquely bizarre, potent, and terrifying in its own right.  In fact, the hapless Japanese are forced to cinematically relive their horrifying experiences in a never ending cycle of doom as each new movie relentlessly repeats an unvarying scenario of death and disaster.  In the meantime, the viewer can only wonder at the spectacle of repetitious self-punishment which the Japanese inflict upon themselves as though undergoing a ritual of masochistic penitence.

With reference to the above discussion, it is instructively worthwhile to momentarily digress and compare the twentieth century Japanese cinematic canvases, replete with assorted monsters, to the work of the eighteenth century master Fuseli.  "A German acquaintance of [the 1770s] described him as 'extreme in everything−Shakespeare's painter.'  Shakespeare and Michelangelo were indeed his twin gods; he even visual­ized a Sistine chapel with Michelangelo's figures transformed into Shakes­pearean characters, where the Sublime would be the common denominator for 'classic' and 'Gothic' Romanticism."(10)

. . . Fuseli's most impressive picture−famous ever since its appearance in 1782−is the Nightmare (Detroit, Inst. of Arts), and since he said that 'one of the least explored regions of art is that of dreams,' he has been acclaimed as the painter of dreams and the subconscious.  Moreover, since in him Michelangelesque anatomy is combined with the violent and un­restrained gestures of the Shakespearian theatre as represented in London at the time of his visit, the expressionists have hailed him as a forerunner.  Such indeed he was, for his heroes were already animated by the Titanism of the superman.  The violent action of his stories inspired by Nordic myths or the Homeric(11) poems, or by the supernatural world of Milton, seems to evolve in an amorphous and cataclysmic world, a magical world.  His heroes and heroines wear strange improbable robes and towering coiffures, looking like sea anemones or the wing cases of beetles. (Fuseli was a coiffure fetishist).  His fury and his pomp seem aimless, as in a dream.  For all these reasons surrealists have been fascinated by the intensity of the passion that invests his haunting, possessed creatures.  This painter of nightmares and satanic women . . . is a contemporary of the Caprichos [Goya]; but he is also contemporary with the authors of the 'black romances' and with De Sade, with their atmosphere of outlaws, prisons, and tyrannical and fatal deeds. . . .

With Fuseli, and still more with Goya, the sense of the demonic becomes more subtle and diffused: they no longer present specific scenes of temptations or witchcraft, as in the [case of other artists].  The theme is still sometimes vaguely cruel and sinister, with something of the nature of nightmare and obsession.  The Devil is no longer a clear and well-defined personage: he pervades the whole atmosphere, and the sense of his presence emanates from the total effect of the picture. . . .

The quality of symmetry, which throughout Dante's Inferno constitutes a lasting reminder of the divine order, is absent from the visions of Goya, which surface like flotsam in a slimy whirlpool.  The faces are terrifying in their very anonymity, or because they look like the withered trophies of headhunters.  Even the evil is not made individual: it is the impersonal creation of the crowd, the mass, the band of witches and sorcerers who adore the Great Goat . . . . In the Disparates, the last series of Goya engravings, everything is counterfeit, topsy-turvy, chaotic: the disintegration of regular forms and the combination of the most antithetical conceptions produce a universal and monstrous disorder which proves that the demon of stupidity has been installed as ruler of the world.  This is described at the close of Pope's Dunciad in a passage (Book IV, 1. 649ff.) that might serve here as comment: 'Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!/ Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restor'd,/ Light dies before thy uncreating word:/ Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall,/ And universal dark­ness buries all.'(12)

Long before the advent of the Japanese monster movies, demonology had already been an integral part of its culture.  But, what is particularly fascinating is the fact that the Japanese theater was partially responsible for the absorption of age-old demoniacal imagery.

The classical Japanese No drama has placed upon the stage many of those wicked and malevolent spirits which swarm unseen, seeking to harm mankind, as well as persons so deformed by sinful passions as to have all traces of human feeling effaced and to be transformed gradually into demoniacal beings.  Thus, through the masks intended to portray them, dramatic art has fixed the characteristics or the passions of both these classes of creatures.  A special type of mask, such as the 0-akujo with the studied monstrosity of its aspect, represents an interior perversion.  Still more fearful in form and spirit are the tengu, which are assigned the mask called Ko-beshimi in the No theatre.  Also considered demoniacal are the spirits of men who have died in various ways].  The origins of these spirits or demons are very remote; but legends have subsequently endowed them with vitality, and the vicissitudes of religious experience have given them new and more complex qualities.  These more palpable images have since been assimilated by popular tradition, the theater, and local cults.  They are thus the expression of a forlorn primordial humanity, vainly searching for that poise and serenity reflected in images of the gods or teachers of the more advanced and cultivated religions.(13)

Thus, the atomic tragedy of World War II served to revitalize the dormant yet inherent cultural demonology of Japan by bringing to the forefront of Japanese film theater a whole new parade of all-powerful primeval monsters.  This archetypal legacy was incidentally observed by the eminent psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung.  "Ancient mythological beings are now curiosities in museums.  But the archetypes they expressed have not lost their power to affect men's minds.  Perhaps the monsters of modern 'horror' films [Godzilla] are distorted versions of archetypes that will no longer be repressed."(14)

A contemporary movie critic, in commenting on Japan's contribution to the "disaster genre" in film making has also made an oblique reference to the atomic bomb and its residual psycho-physical effect on the Japanese people.  "The Japanese monster films have been a reaction to, and metaphor for, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  In their films, a monster comes out of the sea or the earth, towering above the buildings, and threatens the society.  Scientists are baffled and compensate by talking faster.  The populace is torn between cringing back in horror and pressing forward to get a view of the horrifying spectacle." (15)

Actually, the above critic is not entirely correct.  A good many and some of the most threatening of the Japanese spawned monsters are capable of flight.  One such creature is Rodan, a gigantic prehistoric pterodactyl with a wingspan of 500 feet and a weight of 100 tons whose size and speed destroy cities with supersonic shock blasts.(16) Rodan first appears in 1957 and ravages the island of Kyushu before being "temporarily killed."(17) Interestingly enough, the port city of Kokura on the island of Kyushu was the original primary target for the second atomic bomb which, owing to unfavorable weather conditions, was dropped on Nagasaki instead.(18)

Enter Ghidrah

Perhaps the most awesome of the flying saurians is Ghidrah, [2] a three­headed fire-breathing behemoth "born in Outer Space when a fireball

exploded."(19) Like a modern Hydra, (20) the multi-headed Ghidrah (whose debut occurs in 1965) descends upon the Earth hellbent upon inflicting massive destruction.  "Arriving on Earth, the gigantic triple-threat" is confronted by "a trio of powerful enemies"−the 2 million ton, 400 foot high Godzilla; the giant 800 foot wing-spanned Mothra, and the "jet-propelled" Rodan.  Ghidrah is bound "into a straight-jacket-like web by mighty Mothra" and hurled over a cliff by the moth's allies.  Humiliated but not undaunted, Ghidrah retreats into outer space awaiting the time when he can again sweep down and menace the Earth (which he does) .(21)

The helpful turnabout of Godzilla, et. al., against the extra-terrestrial threat of Ghidrah is not the only example of a beneficent/maleficent dualism found in Japanese monsters.  We shall return to this theme a bit later on.  What is of immediate interest is the form of the monster Ghidrah itself and the prototypical phenomena which may have contributed to its creation.

Ghidrah's celestial origin, serpentine anatomical features, and fire­breathing bellicosity immediately suggest a zoomorphic aspect of past physical cosmic forces whose nature was catastrophic and traumatic for Mankind.  In seeking Ghidrah's archetype, therefore, one must seriously consider the relevance of both Japanese cultural beliefs and, in addition, the universal historical cosmic catastrophes postulated by Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision.(22)  For, while one cannot deny the atomic factor in considering Ghidrah's cinematic birth, there is also a strong possibility that nuclear disaster merely rekindled a suppressed subconscious Japanese image of previous cosmic horror.(23)

As it happens, the cult of the serpent was indeed an integral part of the primeval mythos of Japanese culture.

Regarded as a menace by primeval man, snakes gave rise to a principally propitiatory Serpent-Cult in the early history of Japan.  "The serpent-Kami [deified forces of Nature] were [originally considered] maleficent deities, whose influence" had to be nullified by incantation or destruction; or placated by worship or sacrifice.  With the passage of time, however, serpent-veneration engendered a beneficent character to these creatures.  As a result of this maleficent/beneficent conversion, "there is no province of the [Japanese] archipelago [today] in which it is not counted unlucky to kill one, be it harmless or venomous, and tales of catastrophe following harm done to the species are legion."(24)  As a matter of fact, "one pronunciation of the character for snake (mi) also means fruit: therefore the year of the serpent in the Japanese cycle is traditionally a lucky and fruitful year."(25)

P. Wheeler, an authority on folklore, prefers "to regard the winged serpent as a universal possession, linking back, it may well be, with a remote time of tenacious racial memory, of which geology has given us pregnant suggestions;"(26) and in Japan, once, it is told that the Great-Land-Master appeared to the Emperor Yuriaku "as a huge serpent from whose eyes [came] thunder and flame."(27)

As an aside, in the wake of the Hiroshima bombing, charcoal braziers readied for breakfast additionally ignited the tinderbox rubble of the decimated city.  This created "thousands of small fires [which] were whipped into fury by a cyclonic wind that was sucked in toward the hypocenter with such force that large trees were uprooted.  Blasts of flame−they could have come from monster blowtorches−erratically ripped off corrugated roofs as if they were cardboard, blasted houses apart and twisted metal bridges.  Telephone poles ignited explosively."(28)

In the flash of nuclear doom, Hiroshima was transformed into a primeval world of chaos and its survivors were left, as though transported in time, to face the reality of that world until rescued therefrom.  Yet, fiery affliction was nothing new to the Japanese who "since very distant antiquity . . . have dreaded fire.  Twice a year an imperial service, Ho-shizume-no-matsuri, was held to appease and soothe fire." The goddess "Izanami died in giving birth to the God of Fire, burned up by her last son.  He was called Kagutsuchi, but in the ritual prayers he is always invoked under the name of Homusubi, 'he who starts fire'." (29)

Of further interest and pertinence to our general discussion is the eye-witness account of the Nagasaki atomic bombing described by correspondent William Laurence.  From his position in the B-29, Laurence "watched a fiery column shoot two miles into the sky, He began scribbling frantically as the pillar of fire became 'a living thing, a new species of being, born right before incredulous eyes'.  A giant mushroom billowed at the top, even more alive than the towering pillar.  It seethed and boiled in white fury like a thousand geysers.  In seconds it broke free from the stem and a smaller mushroom took its place. [3] It was, Laurence thought, like a decapitated monster growing a new head."(30)

A Japanese seaplane pilot, on an unauthorized investigation of Nagasaki, broke through nearby clouds at 10,000 feet "and was confronted by a huge column of black smoke.  At the top, 'like the head of a monster,' was a massive, swelling ball changing colors kaleidoscopically." (31)

Monster Encore

The constant resuscitation and resurrection of the same monsters in Japanese filmdom reveals something other than mere commercial exploitation.  First, the Japanese are made to suffer repeatedly at the hands of their own creations.  Then, after sufficient sufferance and self-pitying martyrdom, the Japanese turn their monsters loose on the outside world as a cathartic act which only superficially masks Japan's latent hostility and desire for honorable revenge on her former key military adversaries and conquerors.

In Destroy All Monsters (1968)(32) Rodan demolishes Moscow; Mothra devastates Peking; Manda obliterates London; Godzilla smashes New York.  Russia, China, England, and America are all now made to vicariously pay for their earlier triumphs at the expense of the Japanese.  Yet, the latter, in one final feat of expiation, are rendered blameless since the real culprits behind the monster rampage are extraterrestrial aliens based on the Moon who have gained temporary control of the nightmarish creatures.

This control is effectively broken, however, through the combined efforts of Earth scientists who then order the monsters to attack the aliens (known as Kilaaks) instead.  A terrifying climactic struggle now unfolds for all to witness.

. . . in a last ditch measure of desperation, in an attempt to win, the . . . Kilaaks summon no less than the triple-threat monster, the creature with 3 heads: King Ghidrah!..... In addition to the beast-of-beasts, the Kilaaks direct a flaming flying saucer from outer space toward an atomically armed Earth ship and then the very Earth monsters themselves in an insane effort to defeat the defiant Earthmen.

The world shakes as the most frightening battle of monsters ever imagined by the mind of man ensues.

The ground quakes and cracks.

Mountains crumble into avalanches.

Glaciers break and rumble into shards of crystal and swords of ice.

Skyscrapers crash and bridges splash.

Will the Earth itself split asunder?

But the Earth monsters, once mankind's greatest menace, band together against the invaders and, led by the invincible Godzilla, the evil KiIaaks are at last killed to the last alien and, as a new day dawns, Earth licks its wounds, binds its broken bones [starts to rebuild] its rubbled destruction and thanks its lucky stars for the aid of the newly benevolent monsters . . . (33)

Monster Coda

Throughout the Japanese monster films, two elements stand out above all others and are ever-present.  The agent of destruction is primarily reptilian.  He can either breathe fire or he can fly, or he can do both.   In other words, the prototypical disasters visited upon the Japanese had been by flame, and they had come from the sky!  And while the prototypes were being converted into mythic imagery by transmutation and attenuation, the Japanese people remained perfectly aware− intellectually− of their true natures!

In one of the most fascinating of these films, Gamera [4] vs.  Monster X, (1970), we are treated to a reenactment of the ancient drama of the sacrificial death of the Light-God at the hands of the Fiery Serpent, and his eventual resurrection.  The two reptiles−like dual aspects of the same divinity−engage in mortal combat, while the people watch.  One, a giant flying turtle, is good.  The other, a saurian, is evil.  The friendly Gamera (a giant flying turtle who exudes jets of flame and is round like the nucleus of the Venus-Comet) enters into conflict with Monster X (a fiery flying reptile who could easily pass as a replica of the dragon­like tail of the Venus-Comet) in a titanic struggle to save the great city of Tokyo from destruction.

By striking Gamera with a giant needle, like a parody of the great thunderbolts exchanged between the head and tail of the Venus-Comet, Monster X wounds the turtle unto death and begins his systematic destruction of the city.  Gamera, however, revives, reengages the monster in battle, and emerges victorious to receive the plaudits of his grateful admirers.

From all this, it would also seem that we are viewing a reenactment of the ancient struggle between Ormazd and Ahriman, Zeus and Typhon, Quetzalcoatl and Texcatlipoca, Michael and the Dragon.  As though imitating the Angel of the Apocalypse when he bound the Dragon in chains, the good turtle defeats his opponent by wrapping him up in strands of hardened saliva.  And the people adore their new god, and thank him for saving them from the evil one.

The interpretation of the events described above acquires relevant support from a most unusual quarter.  In a recent publication (1974) dealing with the mystical origins of Nazism, Jean-Michel Angebert made the following cogent remarks:

Man's suffering is explained essentially by the fact of his not knowing his beginning (in the metaphysical sense of the term) and his becoming.

The major religions, vying for men's loyalties, try, with more or less skill, to reply to this fundamental questioning.  'Two theories meet head on in this spiritual battle: The first, turning principally on the Judeo-Christian tradition, sees in the Creator a Good God, author of the world and of matter according to a plan which is explained in the biblical Genesis.   God being good and creator of matter, the latter must necessarily be good by its very nature.  All further questioning becomes irrelevant.

This conception of things, which ensures peace of mind, has been able to satisfy the masses, but has never won the support of the elite, for it avoids in its simplicity the problem of conflict, which is at the center of all human activity.  Whether the combat is between good and evil, fire and ice, or lightness and darkness, man is at grips with a world which he must 'transmute' if he wishes to realize fully his destiny.  Challenging spiritual monism, there stands, ever fought against and always rising up again, the dualist cosmogony, full of energy, which conceives of life as an unending fight between diverse elements.  We inhabit a world which is not congealed or static, but quite alive and in full evolution.(34)

In this sense, then, "the horror film . . . is an extension of the beast which inhabits not only our cities, homes, and hearths, but will live in our hearts as long as men are born to die and feel the need to vent twin cries of celebration and warnings: 'Look at me, I am lovely!' we shout.  'Look at me, I destroy!' is the whisper behind the smile.  'Look at me!' says Dr. Jekyll.  'No, me!' says Mr. Hyde."(35)

With the dualistic parallelisms of cinematic action and ancient myth duly noted, there is still one intriguing question yet to be answered.  What was it that provoked the destructive anger of Monster X in the first place?  Evidently, the answer is to be found in the behavior of the directors of Expo '70.  Disregarding the warnings of a prophet, they remove an ancient and mysterious statue from the monster's home−Wester Island in order to put it on display.

Thus, time and time again, we see that the collective has brought the disaster upon itself through sin [5] − that is, by displeasing the deity, the personification of the brutal and capricious forces of the cosmos.

Interestingly, it is from the very preciseness of our observed parallels that the most useful piece of information can be derived.  Mark how the scriptwriters have seemingly drawn upon ancient archetypal images, laid down in the collective unconscious by the Great Cataclysm of C. 1500 B.C.

Apparently, then, the atomic and firebomb destruction of Japan−as horrible as it undoubtedly was−did not traumatize the inhabitants sufficiently to deposit a fresh layer of transmuted cataclysmic imagery.  If these martial disasters produced no intrinsically new archetypal images while those disasters of C. 1500 B.C. produced images that are still far from being effaced by the erosion of time, we must conclude that the advent of the Venus-Comet was the most shatteringly traumatic event in the history of mankind since the Noachian deluge.(36)

Epilogue

Assuming our analogies to be valid, we can make the following observations concerning the collective amnesia: One, it goes to work promptly.  It was only a few years after the war that the monster movies began to appear.  Two, it works rapidly.  In less than the span of a generation, it attenuated the catastrophe, transformed the agent into a dragon, and−as in several of the world's religions−split him down the middle into a god of good, and a god of evil.  Three, since it is a process which enables the conscious mind to forget, it goes to work with­out waiting for the conscious mind to have forgotten.

REFERENCES

1.         I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (Garden City, 1950), "A Collective Amnesia."

2.         See Famous Monsters of Filmland, #114 (Warren Pub.  Co.: N. Y., March 1975), pp. 24-25.

3.         Ibid., P. 16.

4.         Ibid., P. 66

5.         "Gojilla" in Japanese.  The movie Godzilla appeared in 1954.  "Japanese critics, though criticizing the picture's exploitation of the atom-bomb scare, praised [it] for an 'intellectual content usually lacking in foreign pictures of the same genre'."− See J. I. Anderson and D. Richie, The Japanese Film: art and industry (Grove Press: N. Y.), pp. 262-263.

6.         M. Jahn, "They don't stay up till 3 a.m. for just another pretty face," Gallery (June, 1974).

7.         Anderson and Richie, op. cit., P. 263; Famous Monsters, op. cit., P. 20.

8.         See R. James, "Fuseli," Encyclopedia of World Art, V (N.Y., 1961), P. 747.

9.         See E. Crispolti, "Goya," EWA, VI (N.Y., 1962), pp. 660-663 and plate 402 where "Reason's slumber brings forth monsters."

10.       H. W. Janson, History of Art, rev. ed. (N.Y., 1970), P. 467; In a Symposium dealing with "Velikovsky and Cultural Amnesia" held at the Univ. of Lethbridge in early May 1974, Dr. Irving Wolfe (Dept. of English Studies, Univ. of Montreal) presented a paper on "Shakespeare and Velikovsky: Catastrophic Theory and Springs of Art." Dr. Wolfe attempted to trace the Shakespearean patterns of encounters between lovers baczed and allegorized in Greco-Roman mythology . . . Wolfe acknowledged that the sources of Shakespeare's inspiration  in manipulating these themes were unclear.  At one level it is arguable that acquaintance with ancient authors (such as Ovid) who showed marked predilection for catastrophic myths would be sufficient stimulus to the imagination of the Elizabethan poet; on another it is just possible to think of such stimulus as activating unconscious memory of the events transmitted biologically."− See Pensee (Winter 1974-75), P. 47 (emphasis added).

11.       It is especially significant in this instance to note a statement by J. L. Henderson in C.G. Jung, Man and his Symbols (Garden City, 1964), P. 107− "In wartime. . . . one finds increased interest in the works of Homer, Shakespeare, or Tolstoi, and we read with a new understanding those passages that give war its enduring (or 'archetypal') meaning.  They evoke a response from us that is much more profound than it could be from someone who has never known the intense emotional experience of war . . .the great writers are able to transcend the difference of time and place and express themes that are universal.  We respond because these themes are fundamentally symbolic." (emphasis added)

12.       M. Paz, "Demonology," EWA, V (N.  Y., 1961). pp. 331-333

13.       G. Tucci, "Demonology." Ibid., p. 319 (emphasis added).

14.       Man and his Symbols, op. cit., p. 92 and illustrations on p. 93.  When 'cultural symbols, "are repressed or neglected, their specific energy disappears into the unconscious with unaccountable consequences.  The psychic energy that appears to have been lost in this way in fact serves to revive and intensify whatever is uppermost in the unconscious-­tendencies, perhaps, that have hitherto had no chance to express themselves or at least have not been allowed an uninhibited existence in our consciousness.  Such tendencies form an ever-present and potentially destructive 'shadow' to our conscious mind.  Even tendencies that might in some circumstances be able to exert a beneficial influence are transformed into demons when they are repressed.  This is why many well-meaning people are understandably afraid of the unconscious, and incidentally of psychology.  Our times have demonstrated what it means for the gates of the underworld to be opened.  Things whose enormity nobody could have imagined in the idyllic harmlessness of the first decade of our century have happened and have turned our world upside down.  Ever since, the world has remained in a state of schizophrenia.  Not only has civilized Germany disgorged its terrible primitivity, but Russia is also ruled by it, and Africa has been set on fire.  No wonder that the Western world feels uneasy.  Modern man does not understand how much his 'rationalism' (which has destroyed his capacity to respond to numinous symbols and ideas) has put him at the mercy of the psychic 'underworld'." - Ibid., pp. 93-94 (emphasis added).  Also see the article "Schizophrenia and the Fear of World Destruction" in KRONOS, Vol.  I, no. 1 (Spring 1975). - the Ed.

15.       E. Schier, "The Critic's Chair," The Phila. Sunday Bulletin (Nov. 24, 1974), Section 5, p. 3 (emphasis added).

16.       Famous Monsters, op. cit., p. 32; Also see Science News, Vol. 107, No. 11, March 15, 1975, p. 166, "The largest flying creature."

17.       Anderson and Richie, op. cit., p. 263.

18.       J. Toland, The Rising Sun (N.Y.. 1970), p. 991.

19.       Famous Monsters, op. cit., p. 68 (emphasis added).  The name Ghidrah almost sounds, in an Anglicized way, like God-Pa.

20.       See The New Century Classical Handbook, ed. by Catherine Avery (N.Y., 1962), p. 577.  "In Greek mythology, a monstrous dragon of the Lernaean Spring, in Argolis, represented as having nine heads, each of which being cut off [by the Greek hero Hercules], was immediately succeeded by two new ones unless the wound was cauterized." Also "an ancient southern constellation, representing a sea-serpent.  It is of Babylonian origin . . ." According to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology (N.Y., 1960), p. 195−The Lernaean Hydra "born of Typhon and Echidna, was an enormous serpent with nine heads.  Its den was a marsh near Lerna in the Peloponnese.  It would issue forth to ravage the herds and crops; its breath moreover was so poisonous that whoever felt it fell dead."  Also in the LEM, pp. 417-418, we read of the exploits of the Japanese god Susanoo (a kind of Jekyll and Hyde deity) who slays an eight-headed serpent.  Susanoo was a god of Thunder, Storm, and Rain.

21.       Famous Monsters, op. cit., pp. 68-71 and 32.  Mothra's initial appearance occurs in 1962.

22.       Velikovsky, op. cit., pp. 78-82 ,306; also see I. Donnelly, Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel (Steiner Books: N.Y. ,1971), p. 429.

23.       See C. Sutherland, "China's Dragon," Pensee (Winter 1973-74), pp. 47-50; M. Oldfleld Howey, The Encircled Serpent (N.  Y., 1955), pp. 263-273; L. Spence, An Encyclopedia of Occultism (New Hyde Park ,N.  Y., 1960), "Dragon," p. 130.

24.       P. Wheeler, The Sacred Scriptures of the Japanese (N. Y., 1952), pp. 406 and 404.

25.       Ibid., p. 406.  One is reminded of the catastrophic and benign dualism of the proto-planet Venus during the days of the Exodus when it brought both death, in the form of serpents, and life-giving food, manna, to the wanderers of the desert.

26.       Ibid., p. 555, n. 34.

27.       Ibid.. p. 403.

28.       Toland, op. cit., p. 974 (emphasis added).

29.       S. Eliseev, "The Mythology of Japan," Asiatic Mythology (N.Y., 1963), p. 408.

30.       Toland, op. cit., p. 996 (emphasis added).

31.       Ibid., p. 997 (emphasis added).  The same effect can be seen in the Japanese movie The Mysterians (1959).

32.       See Famous Monsters, op. cit., pp. 75-78.  In King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963), two different endings were filmed.  When shown in the Oriental sector of the world, Godzilla wins.  On the other hand, King Kong emerges victorious before the eyes of Occidental film devotees. - See Ibid., pp. 62-63. (Curiously, Manda was a Near Eastern name for Saturn.)

33.       Ibid., p. 81 (emphasis added)

34.       Jean-Michel Angebert, The Occult and the Third Reich (N.Y., 1974), p, 67.

35.       R. Bradbury, "Boris, Bela, and Me," Argosy (Dec. 1974).  P. 22.  "The horror film is a school for all of us then, it seems.  We simply must attend.  Without them we graduate into a world that will be worse than the nightmares we see in films that could, if we allowed, instruct our dreams.  When I was a boy, a very handsome friend of mine who ran fast and won all the races, stepped on a nail and had to have his foot amputated.  The gorilla-ape in me danced with joy at the news.  Some day, if I can take this terrible truth about myself and that boy and turn it into a metaphor I can cleanse myself, and others.  For now, that reality is still so raw in my memory that it destroys (emphasis added)."

36.       One should also take into account the additional re-enforcement of the Martian catastrophe which occurred in the eighth and seventh centuries B. C.

EPIC POSTSCRIPT

In contrast to the outpouring of Japanese Monster movies in the years immediately following World War II, American film-making was crowned by the "Epic Age" [6] whose major constituent was the Biblical Blockbuster. it was not until the box-office triumph of the war, violence, crime, and disaster movies−beginning in the late sixties−that Religious Spectaculars capitulated and virtually disappeared from the repertoire of American cinema.(1) Here is an interesting psychological phenomenon indeed, for while American movies have always been well represented by the horror, monster, science-fiction, war, crime, violence, and disaster genre, it was the Religio-heroic theme of the post-War years which captured (until now) the largest audiences and made the most money.(2) The movie theater became a quasi-temple as Americans immersed themselves in a vicarious religion of cinematic spiritual fantasy.

Between 1949 and 1965, a veritable spate of Epics appeared on the American theater screen, possibly peaking in 1959 with the unparalleled Academy Award and monetary success of Ben-Hur.(3)  By 1963, however, reality caught up with Americans.  The brutal assassination of their President, followed by other acts of violence, general societal unrest, and deepening martial commitments in Southeast Asia eventually conspired to break the redemptive trance and swept Americans beyond the pale of religious cinematic escapism.  The enormous weight of global responsibility, initially placed upon American shoulders following the end of world hostilities, also failed to decrease thereby contributing an additional cumulative psychological toll.

Our society still quivers today under the pressures of that global responsibility first assumed so long ago and we are quite removed from returning to that land of make-believe with its "cast of thousands."

Here now is a fairly representative sampling of those epics and religious films which gained particular American prominence.  They are arranged in nearly exact chronological order. (4)

 Samson and Delilah

Joan of Arc

Quo Vadis

David and Bathsheba

Salome

The Robe

Demetrius & the Gladiators

The Egyptian

Land of the Pharaohs

Helen of Troy

Alexander the Great

The Silver Chalice

The Prodigal

A Man Called Peter

Saint Joan

The Ten Commandments

St.  Francis of Assisi

The Story of Ruth

Ben-Hur

The Diary of Ann Frank

The Nun's Story

The Big Fisherman

Solomon and Sheba

Spartacus

King of Kings

El Cid

Constantine and the Cross

Barabbas

Joseph and His Brethren

Sodom and Gomorrah

Cleopatra

Becket

Esther and the King

The Cardinal

The Fall of the Roman Empire

The Greatest Story Ever Told

The Bible

A Man for All Seasons

To the above list of movies, one could also add Julius Caesar, Ulysses, War and Peace, Macbeth, and Hamlet, all of which appeared between 1953 and 1964.  This group, along with the previously cited Helen of Troy, constitutes a significant compendium of the literary work of Shakespeare, Homer, and Tolstoi, translated to the film media.

The possible psychological importance of these three authors in war­time or in a war-filled atmosphere has already been mentioned in footnote #11 of the preceding article.

REFERENCES

1.         In 1973, Paramount Pictures released the sensitive motion picture Brother Sun, Sister Moon−a story of St. Francis of Assisi.  Its death was almost instantaneous.  It could be argued that the movie was a poor one which was the reason for its failure.  Having been one of the rare few who saw the film, this writer can honestly say that it was not the quality of the movie but rather its anachronistic content which was most likely responsible for its quick demise.  Personally, I found it to be well-done and satisfying and can remember a time when it would have packed the houses.

2.         One has merely to check the all-time "box-office champs" in Variety with their dates and monetary figures to verify the truth of this statement.

3.         Ben-Hur received 11 Academy Awards−the most ever for a single film−and, at the time, was one of the top three money-makers ever.  The other two were Gone with the Wind and The Ten Commandments.  Figures may be checked in Variety along with the dates.

4.         The present listing is based again upon information obtained from Variety.  Medieval epics have not been included though many, because of their religious theme, qualify for inclusion on this list; e.g., Knights of the Round Table.


[1].  A slight variant exception is to be found in the movie Frankenstein Conquers the World (1966), where Hiroshima is referred to but simply used as an excuse for the advent of a mutated Frankenstein monster.

[2].  See M. Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return (Bollingen Paperback: Princeton, 1971). p. 40 and n. 70.

[3].  One of the Japanese monster movies was actually titled Attack of the Mushroom People (1963).

[4].  Gamera first appears in 1966 as Gammera the Invincible− the original double-m gave it more the appearance of gamma-ray.

[5].  The authors intend to develop this subject in a much larger work devoted to the psychology of religion and catastrophism.

[6] It would appear that Americans resorted to the claser to sublimate the psychological effects of the War years; film became the perfect medium.  See "Cosmology and Psychology," KRONOS 1, No. I (Spring, 1975), the section "The Fountain of Forgetfulness."

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