"Godzilla's Theme" (ゴジラのテーマ is a musical theme composed by Gojira no Tēma)Akira Ifukube which has been used to underscore the character for much of his existence. "Godzilla's Theme" in its most well-known form is actually multiple individual pieces of music joined together, and did not actually exist in this form until 1991. The history of "Godzilla's Theme" in its various forms will be discussed in length in this article. This article does not cover other themes for Godzilla composed by different composers.
The most famous part of "Godzilla's Theme" originated as the title theme for the original 1954 film, itself apparently adapted from the main title theme from the earlier film The President and the Saleswoman which Ifukube also scored. This track, originally called "Pursue Godzilla" in the film's score and typically known henceforth as the "Godzilla Title," was actually not composed to underscore Godzilla himself but rather the Defense Forces as they mobilize against Godzilla. "Pursue Godzilla" is heard three times in the film, first over the title credits, next when the Defense Forces mobilize before Godzilla lands at Shinagawa, and finally as the fighter jets use flares to lead Godzilla out to sea in Tokyo Bay. Godzilla himself is underscored in the film with a track titled "Godzilla's Fury," which plays during both of the monster's rampages through Tokyo.
In the next Godzilla film that Isukube scored, King Kong vs. Godzilla, he introduced a new theme for Godzilla, which is recognizable as the intro component for "Godzilla's Theme" and is sometimes individually called the "Godzilla Fanfare." Ifukube combined this fanfare with an adapted higher-tempo version of "Godzilla's Fury." This theme was completely removed from the score of the American release of the film. Ifukube brought back this theme, collectively known as "Godzilla's Fury," for his score for Mothra vs. Godzilla, although it is altered somewhat. The "Godzilla Fanfare" portion of the theme was utilized again to underscore Godzilla in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Invasion of Astro-Monster, and Destroy All Monsters, often arranged in conjunction with "Rodan's Theme." For Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla was typically underscored by the arrangement of "Godzilla's Fury" from Mothra vs. Godzilla, as the film's entire score consisted entirely of stock music composed by Ifukube.
For the final film of the Showa series, Terror of Mechagodzilla, Ifukube was brought back to compose an original score. The "Godzilla Title" had become commonly associated with Godzilla by this point, so Ifukube adapted it to underscore the now-heroic Godzilla in this film. Terror of Mechagodzilla marked the point where the "Godzilla Title" was actually used to underscore Godzilla.
Ifukube rearranged much of his previous music for his 1986 album OSTINATO, including new renditions of "Godzilla Title" and "Godzilla's Fury." These arrangements were used to underscore Godzilla in 1989's Godzilla vs. Biollante, in conjunction with the new "Godzilla 1989" theme which was part of Koichi Sugiyama's original score for the film. Ifukube finally returned to the series with Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah in which he finally introduced "Godzilla's Theme" as it is most well-known. Ifukube combined new arrangements of the "Godzilla Fanfare" with the "Godzilla Title" to underscore Godzilla. "Godzilla's Theme" was used again in all of the following scores of the Heisei series, even Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla which Ifukube did not score. In Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, Ifukube included a new arrangement of "Godzilla's Fury" from Mothra vs. Godzilla as part of the score in addition to "Godzilla's Theme." An adapted version of "Godzilla's Fury" from the original 1954 film was worked into Ifukube's final score for the franchise in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.
"Godzilla's Theme" from the score of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah was used in the first entry of the Millennium series, Godzilla 2000: Millennium, to underscore Godzilla as he comes ashore in Tokyo to confront the Millennian UFO at the film's climax. For the American edit of Godzilla 2000, J. Peter Robinson was brought on to compose new music to supplement Takayuki Hattori's score. Some of Robinson's new music included new arrangements of "Godzilla's Theme," such as during Godzilla's battle with the JSDF in Tokai and Godzilla's climactic duel with Orga. "Godzilla's Theme" was also supplemented for part of the track "Godzilla: Dreaded God" during the end credits. "Godzilla's Theme" and "Godzilla's Fury" from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II were included in the score for Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, while "Godzilla's Theme" from Godzilla vs. Mothra was featured during the end credits for Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Neither of Michiru Oshima's scores for Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla nor Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. featured "Godzilla's Theme." The score for Godzilla: Final Wars featured "Godzilla's Fury" from King Kong vs. Godzilla playing over the Toho logo and a main title track which sampled "Godzilla Title" from the 1954 film.
Shin Godzilla extensively incorporated stock music by Akira Ifukube, the first film to use his music since his death in 2006. "Godzilla Title" and "Godzilla's Fury" ("Godzilla Comes Ashore") from the 1954 film, "Godzilla's Fury" from King Kong vs. Godzilla, "Main Title" from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, and "Godzilla Appears" from Terror of Mechagodzilla were all featured in the film.
In 2018, Alan Silvestri used a brief arrangement of "Godzilla Title" to underscore Mechagodzilla during the character's appearance in the film Ready Player One. The following year, Godzilla: King of the Monsters became the first American Godzilla film to utilize "Godzilla's Theme." Composer Bear McCreary created new arrangements of both the "Godzilla Fanfare" and "Godzilla Title," which he referred to as the "Godzilla March," to underscore Godzilla in the film. The end credits featured McCreary's arrangements of both the "Godzilla Fanfare" and "Godzilla March" combined and played together to emulate the most famous structure of "Godzilla's Theme." This track is referred to as "Godzilla Main Title" despite incorporating the "Godzilla Fanfare" in addition to the "Godzilla Title" portion.
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