Did you know there are 35 Godzilla movies? Well, I didn't either until a friend in my improv comedy group suggested going to see the 65th-anniversary screening of the first Godzilla film. My friend, who is a film major, has been consistently going to The Garde Arts Center in New London this year which is how he heard about this special screening. During my first semester at Conn, my first-year seminar “Music and Social Activism” went on a trip to The Garde to see a special screening of a Beatles film. I remember how shocked I was when I walked into this incredibly preserved movie palace. According to their website, The Garde was originally built in 1926. It was then restored and converted into a non-profit movie theater and performing arts center in 1985. Stepping into The Garde you immediately feel like you're transported back in time. The theater itself is really large. There are classic balcony seats above the general floor seats, and the ornate detailing throughout the theater makes it feel like a work of art. Sadly, I hadn't been back to the theater since my first year at Conn. So when my friend suggested going, I decided to join despite never having seen any Godzilla movies (what better way to start than at movie No. 1).
We arrived at the theater and were handed a Godzilla trivia sheet for the chance to win prizes. My friends are Godzilla fanatics. One of them has seen 32 out of 35 films, so they helped me with my trivia before we entered the theater. Instead of the classic advertisements for upcoming films that you see in traditional theaters, the pre-show consisted of a slideshow of the promotional posters for every Godzilla movie. Godzilla is a Japanese film and due to its popularity it has been translated into many languages, so there were posters in German, French, English and more. My friends explained all of the characters that appeared in the posters and my anticipation grew. After showing all of the variations of Godzilla, a representative from The Garde stood on the stage and did a short introduction about the significance of Godzilla. Then the lights went off and the movie began to roll.
Throughout the film, I was transfixed by the size of the screen and my proximity to it. Godzilla, an already larger-than-life monster, was even more grandiose. And for my film major friends, it was great to see the 1950s special effects up close.