Mothra vs. Godzilla
|Mothra vs. Godzilla|
|Directed by||Ishirō Honda|
|Produced by||Tomoyuki Tanaka|
|Written by||Shinichi Sekizawa|
|Music by||Akira Ifukube|
|Distributed by||Toho (Japan)
American International Pictures (USA)
Mothra vs. Godzilla (モスラ対ゴジラ Mosura tai Gojira?) is a 1964 Japanese science fantasy kaiju film produced by Toho. Directed by Ishirō Honda, and featuring special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, the film starred Akira Takarada, Kenji Sahara and Hiroshi Koizumi. The fourth film in the Godzilla series, it was the first in which Toho began bringing in monsters from other productions, having Godzilla cross paths with Mothra. This trend would continue later in the same year with Rodan, in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.
The film was released theatrically in English language territories in the summer of 1964 (four months after its Japanese debut) by American International Pictures as Godzilla vs. the Thing.
News reporter Ichiro Sakai and photographer Junko Nakanishi take pictures of a wreckage caused by a typhoon. They uncover a strange, bluish-gray object in the debris, not knowing its significance. Later that day, a giant egg is discovered on the shore. The local villagers salvage it, and an entrepreneur of Happy Enterprises named Kumayama buys the egg from the local villagers. Instead of letting scientists study the egg, Kumayama wants to make it into a large tourist attraction. Later, Sakai and Nakanishi are informed that the strange object they found is extremely radioactive. (It is later hinted that this is a skin particle from Godzilla.)
While Sakai, Nakanishi, and scientist Professor Miura are discussing the egg at a hotel, they discover Kumayama checking in. Kumayama meets with Jiro Torahata, the head of Happy Enterprises. They are unexpectedly confronted by tiny twin girls known as the Shobijin and try to capture them. The Shobijin escape and meet with Sakai, Nakanishi and Professor Miura. They explain that the egg belongs to Mothra. If the egg hatches, the larva (though they have no quarrel with man) will still cause great damage looking for food. The trio agree to help.
Sakai, Nakanishi and Miura try to reason with Kumayama and Torahata but fail to do so and the Shobijin leave. The three of them return to Kurada Beach, to determine if there is any more radioactive contamination; and, knowing it cannot be Mothra, try to find what the source might be. They soon find it: Godzilla, who had blown onto Kurada Beach, and buried under mud by the hurricane. He suddenly emerges and begins to attack Nagoya. Sakai, Junko, and Miura travel to Infant Island to request the Shobijin to send Mothra to defeat Godzilla. The natives of the island and the Shobijin are eventually convinced by the trio. However, the Shobijin warn them that Mothra is already near death by natural causes.
Kumayama barges into Torahata's room and demands to get his money back that Torahata had recently swindled from him. Kumayama is shot by Torahata, then he too is killed when Godzilla arrives and destroys his hotel. Mothra arrives just when Godzilla reaches her egg and engages him in battle. Briefly, she seems to be winning, even spraying Godzilla with a poisonous powder, though this is ineffective. Despite giving her all, Godzilla hits her with his atomic breath, and Mothra collapses and dies from exhaustion. Fortunately, Godzilla loses interest in the egg, and proceeds with his rampage.
The JSDF launch multiple campaigns against Godzilla until two giant larvas hatch from Mothra's egg. They follow Godzilla to Iwa Island and trap him with their silk spray until he falls into the sea. Sakai, Junko, and Miura thank the Mothra larvas and Shobijin as they return to Infant island.
- Akira Takarada as Ichiro Sakai (酒井 市朗 Sakai Ichiro?), a reporter
- Yuriko Hoshi as Junko Nakanishi (中西 純子 Nakanishi Junko?), a photographer
- Hiroshi Koizumi as Professor Shunsuke Miura (三浦 俊助 博士 Miura Shunsuke?), a scientist
- Yū Fujiki as Jiro Nakamura (中村 二郎 Nakamura Jiro?), another reporter
- The Peanuts, Emi and Yumi Ito, as the Shobijin (小美人 Shobijin?), the fairy guardians of Infant Island
- Kenji Sahara as Jiro Torahata (虎畑 二郎 Torahata Jiro?), a corrupt business tycoon
- Jun Tazaki as Maruta (丸田 Maruta?), Chief Editor
- Yoshifumi Tajima as Kumayama (熊山 Kumayama?), owner of Happy Enterprises
- Kenzo Tabu as Politician
- Yoshio Kosugi as Infant Island Chief
- Akira Tani as Head Villager
- Susumu Fujita as Japanese SDF Officer
- Ikio Sawamura as Priest
- Ren Yamamoto as Sailor
- Katsumi Tezuka, Tadashi Okabe, Kozo Nomura as Soldiers
- Koji Uno as Journalist
- Senkichi Omura as Villager
- Yutaka Sada as School Principal
- Miki Yashiro as School Teacher
- Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla
American International Pictures originally released the film in the United States in September 1964, and it opened in New York City on November 25 of that year, retitled Godzilla vs. The Thing. Mothra's appearance was kept out of promotional material, which hinted that Godzilla's opponent would be a hideous tentacled creature and referred to it only as "The Thing". New York Times film critic Eugene Archer reacted to the film and its title: "Well, there are three things, not counting the movie. One has wings and looks like a big bee. The other two are hatched from the first Thing's egg, after quite a bit of worshipful kootch dancing from a pair of foot-tall native goddesses...".
In video releases of the 1980s, the film was titled simply Godzilla vs. Mothra. However, Mothra is still repeatedly called "The Thing" in the film, confusing many film-goers who thought "The Thing" and "Mothra" were two separate monsters.
This is the first Showa Godzilla film to be nearly completely intact for North American release (a very few small scenes were edited out). The first three Godzilla films were heavily edited, as well as included English actors and new narration.
- There were several differences in the original screenplay from Shinichi Sekizawa, which he submitted in 1963 on December 31, compared to the finished product. The most noticeable is that Godzilla's body was substituted for Mothra's Egg in the final draft. Furthermore, Godzilla was also going to take a bigger role in the film, with Mothra only arriving just in time for the climax. Rolisica, a fictional land that was featured in Mothra (1961), was present in this early screenplay as well. The Rolisican government was also going to be the ones to deploy the Frontier Missiles against Godzilla, as opposed to the US forces as it occurred in the International version of Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). Lastly, this early draft didn't feature Mothra's Larva at all, and the final confrontation was going to be with the Imago version of Mothra and Godzilla.
- The upper lip on the Godzilla suit in this film has a slight wobble. This was originally an accident; in the filming of a scene where Godzilla smashes into the Nagoya Castle, the actor in the suit, Haruo Nakajima, fell and the suit's head slammed into the castle, loosening the teeth. Special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya liked this so much that he wanted to keep the suit like that for a while.
- During Godzilla's initial assault on Iwa Island, composer Akira Ifukube originally did not want to use music for the sequence. However, Ishiro Honda disagreed and added music during post-production without the composer's knowledge. When Ifukube first saw the sequence in the finished film at its premiere, he turned to Honda and gave him a dirty look. It is the only recorded disagreement they have ever had in their professional careers.
- The claws on Godzilla's hands and feet were made out of FRP for the first time in this film.
- Another highlight of the film is the "Frontier Missile" sequence, where Godzilla was being attacked on a beach by American battle cruisers. This scene was included only in the North American version, although part of the scene was featured briefly in the original Japanese trailer.
Release and box office
The film was released in Japan on April 29, 1964, where it sold 3,510,000 tickets.
The film was re-released twice. On December 19, 1970 it was reissued (edited) as part of the Toho Champion Festival where it sold 730,000 tickets.
On March 15, 1980, it was re-released on a double bill with Doraemon: Nobita's Dinosaur. This double bill release sold 2,980,000 tickets.
- Mothra vs. Godzilla - Toho's current official English title. Classic Media used this title for their DVD release.
- Godzilla vs. The Thing - UK and North American theatrical release title.
- Godzilla vs. Mothra - American TV and home video title.
- Godzilla Against Mothra - English title used in international promotional material, and on Toho's original posters.
The film has received favorable reviews by critics, and is widely considered among the best Godzilla films. The film's approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes is currently at 90% based on ten reviews.
Home media releases
Classic Media R1 America
- Released: November 7, 2006 (DVD)
- Picture Format: 2.35:1 Anamorphic (Japanese Version) 1.77:1 Cropped-Anamorphic (US version)
- Soundtrack(s): Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Japanese Version only) English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (US Version only)
- Subtitles: English (optional)
- Audio Commentary with authors Ed Godziszewski and Steve Ryfle (US Version only)
- Japanese Trailer
- Still Gallery Slide Show
- Tribute to Akira Ifukube (13 mins)
- Notes: Also available in The Godzilla Collection with "Gojira (Godzilla)", "Godzilla Raids Again", "Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster", "Invasion of Astro-Monster (Monster Zero), "All Monsters Attack", and "Terror of Mechagodzilla" (all films include Japanese and US Versions).
- Re-release: October 18, 2013
Simitar Entertainment R0 America
- Released: April 7, 1998 (DVD/VHS)
- Picture Format: 2.35:1 (Non-Anamorphic) [NTSC]
- Soundtrack(s): English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Mono
- The Gallery of Godzilla (stills, design sketches, storyboards and poster artwork)
- Production Notes
- Theatrical Trailer
- Bonus Trailers for "Godzilla's Revenge", "Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero", “Godzilla, King Of The Monsters!”, and "Terror Of Mechagodzilla"
- Interactive trivia game
- DVD-ROM features: 4 screen savers, printable photo, & art galleries, and access to "simitar.com" and "followthru.com" websites
- Case type: Keep Case
- Notes: 1.33:1 pan & scan version also on "Side B". Also available in the 6-disc box set "Godzilla: 5 Rampaging Movies", with "Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero", "Terror Of Mechagodzilla", "Godzilla's Revenge", "Godzilla, King Of The Monsters!”, and "The Art Of Illusion" bonus disc.
Paramount Home Video/Gateway
- Released: between 1995/1996 (VHS)
Paramount Home Video
- Released: 1982 (VHS & Beta)
- Ragone, August (2007, 2014). Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-6078-9
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