Features and Columns · Movies

Big Boys and Mighty Metaphors: The Symbolic Power of the Kaiju

Big boys. Big ideas.
Godzilla Vs Biollante
By  · Published on March 29th, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores the big monster movies known as “Kaiju” films.

Sometimes it’s enough to watch big lads go absolutely ham on a big city. However, when the mood is right, it can be fun (enlightening, even) to remember that enormous monsters are compelling and age-old vessels of meaning.

The question of what Big Monsters mean and why we tell stories about them is a twisted and compelling one. While it’s easy to shrug off massive monsters as nothing more than pulpy horror movie shlock, there’s often far more going on than meets the eye.

The video essay below is certainly one of the longer videos we’ve promoted in this column. But if any of this strikes a chord with you, I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a proper watch. The video offers a historical deep-dive that is shockingly thorough given the metaphorical size of the subject matter: from folk tales of humanoid giants that provided explanations for natural features to symbolically rich hyper objects that allowed audiences to contend with overwhelming realities like regime changes and war.

So don’t mock Mothra or jeer at Godzilla. After all, horror is the genre best suited for wrangling unwieldily metaphor into flesh … however big the size.

Watch “Kaiju | Monster Men”

Who made this?

The above video essay on the history, themes, and overall gist of kaiju movies is by Sophie from Mars, a.k.a. Sophia McAllister, a creator based in the United Kingdom. Their content covers everything from video games to movies to politics (and how the latter are immeshed in the former). You can follow them on Twitter here. And you can subscribe to them on YouTube here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).