original Japanese poster
|Directed by||Ishirō Honda|
|Produced by||Tomoyuki Tanaka|
|Written by||Jojiro Okami (story)
Paul Frees (USA)
William Eidleson (USA)
Virginia Craig (USA)
|Music by||Kan Ishii|
|Edited by||Reiko Kaneko|
Brenco Pictures (U.S.)
Allied Artists (U.S.)
Heritage Enterprises (U.S. TV release)
Early in the year 1979, Japan's famed rocketship, the JX-1 Hawk is launched from the Mt Fuji Interstellar Exploration Agency site into space on a 9-month journey to investigate the planet Saturn up close. It was discovered that a small, runaway "planet," which some scientists believed to be the solid mega-dense core of a collapsed star that had somehow run amok, and was subsequently named "Gorath" by the international scientific community, had entered Earth's solar system. Upon encountering Gorath and attempting to investigate its rapid movement in the solar system, they discover that Gorath is smaller than Earth but with 6000 times Earth's gravity. The JX-1 is caught in its gravity well and its entire crew of the spacecraft lost their lives as the enormous gravity well of the approaching celestial body destroyed the ship.
However, they managed to transmit data on their discovery back to Earth, where it was collated by astronomers and astrophysicists throughout the international community. It was then realized that the enormous celestial body was heading on a direct course for the Earth, and if a planetary body that huge struck terra firma it would cause an extinction level catastrophe greater than that caused by the Apollo asteroid collision that is believed to have ended the reign of the dinosaurs many millions of years ago.
In order to save the planet from its impending doom, the United Nations resolved to pool their resources towards this all-important goal by pooling together the large amounts of technical advancements they made in the past two decades. A bold and incredible plan was quickly initiated by the U.N. Security Council called Operation: South Pole. The U.N. then sends remaining prototype sub-light spacecraft JX-2 Eagle was quickly modified and launched into space to obtain further data on Gorath.
The South Pole operation base is designed to house a large international team of engineers and scientists. The plan involves the construction of several hundred huge and powerful thruster engines, 500 meters below the surface and in an area 600 kilometers in diameter, producing an atomic force equal to that of 6,600,000,000 megatons. When completed and activated, these mega-thrusters would serve to literally move the Earth more than 400,000 kilometers out of its orbit in 100 days until it was safely out of range of both the approaching star Gorath and its devastating gravity well, and then move the Earth back into its proper orbit once the danger had completely passed.
Construction on the massive South Pole base is put into action as ships and helicopters from many nations bring in building material necessary to the plan. In addition, powerful mobile heat-generating devices known as atomic burrowers were quickly cobbled together to assist in the project of creating the caverns in the icy terrain of the Antarctic that would be needed to house the booster rockets.
The JX-2 Eagle succeeds in its mission. The data they acquired, including the disturbing fact that Gorath was continuously adding to its mass by absorbing more space debris in the path of its gravity well, was sent to the U.N. personnel on the three space stations SSS-1, Terra and Delta. Back on Earth, the first preliminary test of the rocket thrusters is about to commence. Around the world, anxious citizens watch live television broadcasts of the event. The thrusters are activated and the results are witness from the orbiting space stations the Earth is gently along. The South Pole Operation is hailed as a success and the Earth was moving out of the way of Gorath's path.
A while later, an unexpected threat was literally unearthed when the completed rocket boosters were tested. The backlash of incredible heat this created caused a gigantic, 30 meter long mutant walrus to emerge from its home deep below the frozen tundra this creature was later named 'Maguma.' Maguma was evidently a hidden remnant of prehistoric creatures that survived into modern times. Angered by the dramatic intrusion into its home, Maguma began attacking the U.N. base.
Acting to save the installation, a small VTOL craft that was used as a means of fast cargo transport, but also equipped with a powerful laser, was sent to stop the kaiju's assault. The pilot was determined to halt the creature without killing it, and initially used the laser cannon to cause an avalanche that buried the beast. Maguma easily escaped, however, and continued its attack. This left the South Pole crew no choice but to turn the craft's deadly laser beam on the creature itself, and the enormous animal was quickly killed.
Meanwhile, in space, Gorath was continuing on its destructive path, now absorbing the rings of Saturn. With this news, the JX-2 Eagle returns to Earth, along with the three space stations (all of which were moved from orbit to avoid having the multibillion-dollar constructs being struck by Gorath when it approached the Earth).
Sometime later, Gorath is close enough to the Earth to be seen by the naked eye and the atmosphere is reacting as the clouds are drawn toward the star. Tides begin to rise and a State of Emergency is declared. The Moon, the Earth's lone satellite is pulled in by Gorath's gravity well and is obliterated. Gorath's full effect upon the Earth is felt as the great city of Tokyo is flooded by a tsunami. At the Mt. Fuji Interstellar Exploration Agency launch site, the JX-2 and the space stations are destroyed by an earthquake. The situation also became critical and the South Pole Operation base, as flooding waters enter into the thruster area, extinguishing a number of fires.
After the critical moment passed, the full global cooperation of every nation on Earth succeeded marvelously and Earth was moved out of Gorath's path, and then successfully actuated back into its normal orbit, thus saving the planet from destruction.
Maguma is a fictional kaiju (giant monster) featured in the Japanese science fiction tokusatsu film Gorath, released by Toho in 1962. Based upon the walrus and named after subterranean molten rock (magma), the Maguma suit was designed by special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya, and worn by stuntman Haruo Nakajima, who frequently performed kaiju in Toho films of the era (including their most famous monster character, Godzilla). Maguma is the only monster in the film, the focus of which is a runaway collapsed star on a collision course with Earth.
As Gorath approaches, several enormous rocket boosters are constructed in Antarctica and other parts of the world to push Earth out of the runaway star's path. The heat from the rockets has an unexpected consequence: releasing Maguma from the polar ice. As the monster ravages the South Pole base, the plan to evade Gorath is imperiled. Maguma is ultimately killed by a laser.
The sequence featuring Maguma only makes up approximately six minutes of the finished film, but played a key role in the film's advertising. The character was a late addition, after insistence by producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, due to the box-office successes of Toho's kaiju eiga (monster movies) compared to its other mystery, horror, and science fiction offerings such The Mysterians and Battle in Outer Space.
Conversely, Maguma's role was completely removed from the U.S. release of the film. In Ultra Q, the suit would be reused to make Todola.
The film was released in the US by Brenco Pictures. Most of the visual content was kept intact, but the six-minute sequence featuring the character Maguma was removed. The distributors found the character's appearance comical, even dubbing him "Wally the Walrus" (most likely inspired by Wally Walrus, an antagonist from the Woody Woodpecker cartoons popular at the time). As such, they removed the sequence for their cut of the film, and it has never been restored to the English-language edit, which was aired on television throughout the 1960s and '70s.
The English dubbing was done by Ryder Sound Services, and scripted by Star Trek writer John Meredyth Lucas. Only four voice actors were used to dub the film. Besides the voices, the audio track was modified, including adding a sound effect for the meteor which was not in the original Japanese version.
Brenco Pictures re-released the film on a double-bill with The Human Vapor in 1968, but between the two releases never turned a profit on their investment in Gorath. The company closed in 1969 soon after the death of co-owner Edward L. Alperson on July 3 of that year. The film was purchased by Heritage Enterprises and distributed to U.S. television. Presumably, it was seen by more people on TV than by people who saw it between its two theatrical releases.
- Ryo Ikebe - Dr. Tazawa
- Ken Uehara - Dr. Kawano
- Takashi Shimura - Dr. Kensuke Sonoda
- Yumi Shirakawa - Tomoko Sonoda
- Fumio Sakashita - Hayao Sonoda
- Kumi Mizuno - Takiko Nomura
- Takamaru Sasaki - Seki, Prime Minister of Japan
- Eitaro Ozawa - Kinami, Minister of Justice
- Seizaburo Kawazu - Tada, Minister of Finance
- Ko Nishimura - Murata, Minister of Space
- Keiko Sata - Murata's Secretary
- Jun Tazaki - Raizo Sonoda, Captain of Spaceship JX-1 Hayabusa
- Nadao Kirino - Manabe, First Officer of Spaceship JX-1 Hayabusa
- Koji Suzuki - Operations Officer of Spaceship JX-1 Hayabusa
- Kazuo Imai - Communication Officer of Spaceship JX-1 Hayabusa
- Wataru Omae - Navigator of Spaceship JX-1 Hayabusa
- Yasuo Araki - Observation Crew of Spaceship JX-1 Hayabusa
- Akira Yamada - Stoker Crew of Spaceship JX-1 Hayabusa
- Tomosuke Suzuki - Fuel Crew of Spaceship JX-1 Hayabusa
- Akihiko Hirata - Endo, Captain of Spaceship JX-2 Ootori
- Kenji Sahara - Saiki, First mate of Spaceship JX-2 Ootori
- Akira Kubo - Tatsuma Kanai, Crew of Spaceship JX-2 Ootori
- Kōichi Satō - Operation Crew of Spaceship JX-2 Ootori
- Masanari Nihei - Ito Crew of Spaceship JX-2 Ootori
- Hideyo Amamoto - Cabaret Customer
- Haruo Nakajima - Maguma
- Executive Producer - Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Screenplay - Takeshi Kimura
- Original Story - Jojiro Okami
- Director - Ishirō Honda
- Visual Effects Director - Eiji Tsuburaya
- Cinematography - Hajime Koizumi
- Production Designer - Takeo Kita and Teruaki Abe
- Lighting - Morio Takashima
- Sound Recording - Toshiya Ban
- Music - Kan Ishii
- Sound Editor - Hisashi Shimonga
- Assistant Director - Koji Kajita
- Film Editor - Reiko Kaneko
- Film Development - Far East Laboratories
- Production Manager - Yasuaki Sakamoto
- Optical Photography - Rikio Yuki
- Visual Effects Photography - Sadamasa Arikawa and Sokei Tomioka
- Visual Effects Production Design - Akira Watanabe
- Visual Effects Lighting - Kuichiro Kishida
- Composites - Hiroshi Mukoyama
- Visual Effects Production Manager - Hiroshi Narita
- Ragone, August (2007, 2014) Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-6078-9
- Tsuburaya, Hideyo [Shoemaker, Greg] (1983) "Gorath Retrospective" in The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal (#15), p. 10-17.
- Maguma profile at Toho Kingdom.
- Gorath at Toho Kingdom.
- Romero, Anthony, review of Gorath at Toho Kingdom.
- Yosei Gorasu at the Internet Movie Database
- Analysis of Gorath and Maguma on the alt.movies.monster newsgroup.
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