Warning from Space

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Warning from Space
Uchujin Tokyo ni arawaru poster.jpg
Japanese film poster
Directed by Koji Shima
Produced by Masaichi Nagata
Written by Hideo Oguni (screenplay)
Gentaro Nakajima (novel)
Jay Cipes (English dialogue)
Edward Palmer (English dialogue)
Starring Keizo Kawasaki
Toyomi Karita
Bin Yagasawa
Shozo Nanbu
Bontarô Miyake
Mieko Nagai
Kiyoko Hirai
Isao Yamagata
Music by Seitaro Omori
Cinematography Kimio Watanabe
Edited by Toy Suzuki
Production
  company
Daiei Film
Distributed by Daiei (Japan)
AIP-TV (USA)
Release date(s)
  • January 29, 1956 (1956-01-29) (Japan)
  • October 21, 1957 (1957-10-21) (UK)
  • 1963 (1963) (US)
Running time 87 minutes (Japan)
88 minutes (US)
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Warning from Space or Mysterious Satellite (宇宙人東京に現わる Uchūjin Tokyo ni arawaru?, Spacemen Appear in Tokyo) is a Japanese science fiction tokusatsu film released in January 1956 by Daiei, and was the first Japanese science fiction film to be produced in color. In the film's plot, starfish-like aliens disguised as humans travel to Earth to warn of the imminent collision of a rogue planet and Earth. As the planet rapidly accelerates toward Earth, a nuclear device is created at the last minute and destroys the approaching world.

The film, directed by Koji Shima, was one of many early Japanese monster films quickly produced after the success of Toho's Godzilla in 1954. The film was loosely based on a novel by Gentaro Nakajima. After release, the film was met with negative reviews, with critics calling it "bizarre" and accusing it of using science fiction clichés. Warning from Space influenced many other Japanese science fiction films, such as Gorath. The film, along with other 1950s science fiction films, influenced director Stanley Kubrick, who would later direct 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Plot[edit]

A small ship travels to a rotating space station. Aboard the station, a group of starfish-like beings discuss how to warn humans of an impending disaster, deciding on contacting Japanese scientist Dr. Kumara. Meanwhile, flying saucers are spotted over the skies of Tokyo, baffling scientists. A journalist tries to get a statement from Dr. Kumara about the sightings, but Kumara replies that there is not enough evidence to formulate a hypothesis. At an observatory, Professor Isobe spots an object in his telescope apparently releasing smaller objects.

Isobe discusses his findings with Kumara and a physician, Dr. Matsuda, who takes photographs of the object, though they turn out to be unclear. But they can still deduce the object has a high energy output. Meanwhile, the extraterrestrials have been unsuccessfully attempting to contact humans. They appear in lakes and rivers, frightening fishermen and sailors. One of the aliens manages to get a photo of Hikari Aozora, a famous Japanese entertainer. They plan to have one of the aliens mutate to look like Aozora. Back aboard the space station, one of the Pairan leaders, Ginko, volunteers to slowly mutate into the human form.

The asteridian Pairans in discussion aboard the space station.

On Earth, Toru, Isobe's son, discovers the disguised alien floating in the water. After her rescue, she exhibits superhuman characteristics such as jumping ten feet and materializing in different places. Soon, she disrupts Dr. Matsuda's work on a nuclear device, explaining she understands the complex equations he was writing and warning against the effects of a device. Shortly afterwards, as the team of scientists discuss her abnormal traits, Ginko reveals her true identity, explaining she is from Paira, a world on the same orbit as Earth but on the opposite side of the Sun. She then announces her mission, to warn Earth of an imminent collision of a rogue planet, which is dubbed "Planet R" by the media. They appeal to the World Congress about the situation, but are ejected. Only after they prove evidence of Planet R and its rapid acceleration does the World Congress launch its nuclear weapons, which are ineffective.

In the meantime, spies have abducted Matsuda and are attempting to steal his formula to the nuclear device. Matsuda does not comply and is eventually left tied to a chair in a remote building. As the Earth's atmosphere heats up because of the approaching Planet R, Ginko again arrives to learn why it hasn't been destroyed yet. Using Pairan technology they rescue Matsuda and the formula for the device. They watch as the device is fired at Planet R destroying it. Earth's atmosphere immediately begins to cool, saving humanity.

Production[edit]

After the success of Toho's 1954 film Godzilla, which depicted a giant dinosaur attacking Tokyo, many Japanese studios began to produce similar monster films, including Warning from Space.[1][2] Along with other films such as Shintoho's Terrifying Attack of the Flying Saucers and the American Forbidden Planet, Warning from Space became part of a fledgling subgenre of films based around science fiction creatures.[3] The film also included the fashionable use of nuclear weapons as many other films did at the time,[4][5] but showed how the weapons, which devastated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a decade earlier, could be put to good use.[6] Still others noted the film used another common theme of cosmic collisions in the style of earlier films such as the 1931 film End of the World, which depicted a comet on a collision course with the Earth.[7]

The Pairan aliens were designed by the prominent avant-garde artist Tarō Okamoto,[8] which used a single eye common among monsters and aliens.[9] Although posters showed the Pairan aliens towering over buildings, they were on the scale of humans, at about two meters.[10] Walt Lee reports that Gentaro Nakajima's novel, on which this film was based, was in turn based on the Japanese folktale Kaguya-hime.[11] The film was one of fourteen Japanese color pictures produced in early 1956,[12] but the first color Japanese science-fiction film.[13]

Release[edit]

Daiei also hoped to find a foreign market for Warning from Space, though the company found difficulty in selling it.[14] Nevertheless, the film played at both King Cinema in Rangoon, Burma[15] and Tai Khoon Theatre in Sandakan, Malaysia, in 1958.[13] The film did help Daiei achieve some success in the genre.[16] It was passed for release, anglicized as Warning from Space, by the BBFC in the United Kingdom in 1957,[17] and later in the United States in 1963.[18] It was picked up by American International Television later in the 1960s.[14] The film was released in Spain as Asalto a la Tierra,[7] and in France as Le Satellite Mystérieux.[19]

Reception[edit]

The film was met with negative reviews. In his book A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema, Charles P. Mitchell called the film "bizarre" and gave it two stars.[20] Similarly, in a 1978 issue of the magazine Cue, viewers were warned "don't watch it."[21] In the 1986 Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies by Phil Hardy and Denis Gifford, the film is accused of using the science fiction clichés of flying saucers and atomic bombs.[22] Gyan Prakash, in his book Noir Urbanisms: Dystopic Images of the Modern City, called the film "charming."[1] The film was noted for its misleading characterization of astronomers, with one author observing that it advanced the cinematic portrayal of astronomers as scientists in lab coats peering through an enormous telescope.[23]

In his biography of Stanley Kubrick, author John Baxter traces Kubrick's interest in science fiction films, which led to his 2001: A Space Odyssey, to the Japanese kaiju eiga films of the 1950s, including Warning from Space, with its "nameless two-metre-tall black starfish with a single central eye, who walk en pointe like ballet dancers."[10] Baxter notes that despite their "clumsy model sequences, the films were often well-photographed in colour ... and their dismal dialogue was delivered in well-designed and well-lit sets."[10]

Legacy[edit]

Warning from Space influenced Toho's Gorath, a 1963 film which depicts a rogue planet on a collision course with Earth.[24] The planet Paira in Warning from Space may have been an influence in the Daiei films Gamera vs. Guiron and Gamera: Super Monster, which feature the planet Tera, another planet on the opposite of Earth's orbit.[25] Critics have also noted plot similarities to the later Toho film Monster Zero, in that a friendly planet warns Japan of the atom bomb and subsequently assists in celestial defense.[26] The Pairans' asteroidean appearance is similar to that of a later pentagrammic creation, Starro, a villain from DC Comics' Justice League.[27][28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Prakash, Gyan (2010). Noir Urbanisms: Dystopic Images of the Modern City. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-691-14644-6. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Ryfle, Steve (1998). Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G". Toronto: ECW Press. p. 65. ISBN 1-55022-348-8. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Ragone, August (2007). Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman, Godzilla, and Friends in the Golden Age of Japanese Science. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 52. ISBN 0-8118-6078-7. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Shapiro, Jerome Franklin (2002). Atomic Bomb Cinema: The Apocalyptic Imagination on Film. New York: UNC Press Books. p. 462. ISBN 0-415-93660-8. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  5. ^ Lifton, Robert Jay (2000). Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism. New York: Macmillan. p. 257. ISBN 0-8050-6511-3. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Lifton, Robert Jay (1991). Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima. London: Psychology Press. p. 363. ISBN 0-8078-4344-X. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Lupiáñez, Manuel Moreno and Jordi José Pont (2002). De King Kong a Einstein: La Física en la Ciencia Ficción (in Spanish). Barcelona: Edicions UPC. p. 258. ISBN 84-8301-333-9. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Introduction. Taro Okamoto Museum of Art (in Japanese). Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  9. ^ Westfahl, Gary (2005). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders, Volume 2. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 871. ISBN 0-313-32952-4. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c Baxter, John (1997). Stanley Kubrick: A Biography. New York: Basic Books. p. 200. ISBN 0-7867-0485-3. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  11. ^ Lee, Walt (Compiler) (1974). Reference Guide to Fantastic Films: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Los Angeles: Chelsea Lee Books. p. 324. ISBN 0-913974-02-1. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Hasegawa, Saiji (1964). Japan Trade Guide With a Comprehensive Mercantile Directory. Tokyo: Jiji Press. p. 207. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Leaflet: Warning From Space. Malaysia Design Archive. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  14. ^ a b Shoemaker, Greg (1979). "Daiei: A History of the Greater Japan Motion Picture Company". The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal (12): 14. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  15. ^ Far East Film News (January 17): 21. 1958. 
  16. ^ Sewell, Keith and Guy Mariner Tucker (1995). "The Gamera Saga". G-FAN (14). Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  17. ^ Warning from Space BBFC. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  18. ^ Young, R.G. (2000). The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film: Ali Baba to Zombies. New York: Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 663. ISBN 1-55783-269-2. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  19. ^ Un Siècle de Cinéma Fantastique et de SF. Paris: Éditions Le Manuscrit. 2005. p. 467. ISBN 2-7481-6073-8. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  20. ^ Mitchell, Charles (2001). A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 276. ISBN 0-313-31527-2. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  21. ^ "Warning from Space". Cue (Cue Publishing Co.) 7 (1-6). 1978. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  22. ^ Hardy, Phil and Denis Gifford (1986). Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies. Minneapolis: Woodbury Press. p. 163. ISBN 0-8300-0436-X. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  23. ^ West, Michael (28 May 2009). Public Perception of Astronomers: Revered, Reviled and Ridiculed. New York: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  24. ^ Valdron, Den. "Gorath, the Mystery Planet". The Godzilla Saga. Retrieved 30 December 2010. 
  25. ^ Valdron, Den. "Gamera: The World of Tera". The Godzilla Saga. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  26. ^ Derry, Charles (2009). Dark Dreams 2.0: A Psychological History of the Modern Horror Film from the 1950s to the 21st Century. Jefferson: McFarland. p. 78. ISBN 0-7864-3397-3. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  27. ^ Anderson, Murphy, et al (2005). The Justice League Companion: A Historical and Speculative Overview of the Silver Age Justice League of America. Raleigh: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 1944. ISBN 1-893905-48-9. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  28. ^ Renee, Misiroglu and Michael Eury (2006). The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 0-7808-0977-7. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 

External links[edit]