March 17, 2023 | FEATURES | By Zeke Lloyd
At the time, no one knew why Ben Greenly ‘23 watched “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” 11 consecutive times. It was a grueling endeavor. He began, sitting in a lawn chair set up in front of a TV by the Worner fireplace, at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7. He concluded his watch-a-thon on the evening of Thursday, March 8, having watched the film without any interruption for a total of 24 hours and 12 minutes.
But why? The movie itself is not acclaimed by any means. Despite an impressive cast, critics received the film poorly after its 2019 release. Rotten Tomatoes, which gave it a score of 42%, wrote that it “delivers spectacular kaiju action — and reaffirms that cutting-edge effects are still no substitute for a good story.”
For some students, the watch-a-thon became a community building event. Many pedestrians in the midst of a mindless leftward glance on their way to Rastall Dining Hall were surprised to see a full-on movie marathon underway. Greenly’s pseudo-theater stood in stark contrast to the Worner fireplace’s usual bland aesthetic. His chair’s position directly in front of the enormous flatscreen (brought in specially for the viewing) gave him easy access to the food and refreshments he prepared for the occasion.
The act of stopping to ask why “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” was playing in the middle of Worner brought together a number of people who otherwise might never have met. Greenly even relocated couches and tall tables to provide ample space for an audience, allowing spontaneous spectators to join him. At its peak, no less than 25 people hovered around Greenly as Godzilla battled other gargantuan monsters on screen.
But there wasn’t always an audience.
Greenly admitted his lowest point came during a solitary hour early on Thursday morning. Luke Bleckman ’24, a Sun Butter comedian and close friend of Greenly, left Worner around 3:00 a.m. This left Greenly completely alone until his next companion arrived near the beginning of the fifth showing at 3:48 a.m.
Two friends provided Greenly with sealed messages for just such a moment. The first envelope was meant to be opened when Greenly felt most disheartened, while another was labeled “Open this at your second lowest moment.”
So, long before the sun rose on Thursday, Greenly broke the seal on his first letter. Inside he found a blank notecard. In the second was a sheet of printer paper void of ink except for two low-quality JPEG images used frequently in memes.
Greenly found them hilarious. Moreover, in moments of isolation, he found a certain solace in the film itself. “I mean, to be honest, I always have companionship with this movie,” said Greenly. “I have my friends here: Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra and Olivia.”
But unlike Godzilla, Ghidorah, and Mothra, Olivia Garg ’24 was not present for the entire 24 hours and 12 minutes. Garg, who is also a member of Sun Butter, arrived around 6:00 a.m. with her roommate, Will Burglechner ’23, for the movie’s sixth showing.
“Thanks to these lights being on now, I no longer feel like I want to fall asleep every time I close my eyes,” said Greenly around the time of Garg’s arrival, referring to the overhead lights above the fireplace. From then on, the viewing area saw a constant stream of comers and goers, providing Greenly with company up until he finished watching 14 hours later.
Four days later, typed out in an Outlook email, Greenly provided context on why he did it.
“It’s difficult because I kept coming up with different, better reasonings. For the student event Summit, I said that it was the ultimate community building event. For the film department, I convinced them that it was a twist on the movie screening – a movie that everyone would have time to go to. During my stand-up meetings I told everybody that it was because I had taken three first dates to the movie already,” wrote Greenly. “Really I wanted to do this event because when I pitched it to my friend my junior year, they said they would make the poster for me.”