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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
Screenplay by Hideo Oguni
Based on A novel  
by Gentaro Nakajima
  • 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
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 1956 (1956) (Japan)
  • 1957 (1957) (UK)
  • 1963 (1963) (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. Warning from Space has since been placed in the public domain. 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.


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 believes they should get photographs via a rocket. The photographs they retrieve, however, turn out to be unclear, though they deduce the object has a high energy output. In the meantime, the extraterrestrials have been unsuccessfully attempting to contact humans. They begin appearing in lakes and rivers, frightening local fishermen and sailors. One of the aliens manages to secure a photo of Hikari Aozora, a famous Japanese entertainer. Their plan is for one of the aliens to mutate into the form of Aozora. Back aboard the space station, one of the Pairan leaders, Ginko, volunteers herself. Her starfish form is slowly mutated into a human form.

The starfish-like 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 without walking. 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, leading him to believe she is not human. Shortly afterwards, as the team of scientists discuss her abnormal traits, the camouflaged Ginko appears and 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 continues to reveal 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 swiftly rejected. Only after they show Planet R and its rapid acceleration in the telescope does the World Congress launch its nuclear weapons, which ineffectively explode on its surface.

In the meantime, a group of spies have abducted Matsuda and are attempting to steal his formula to the nuclear device the disguised Pairan warned him about. Matsuda does not comply and is eventually tied to a chair in a remote building. As the Earth's atmosphere heats up due to the approaching world, Ginko again arrives to learn why Planet R is not yet destroyed. They locate Matsuda through Pairan technology and gather the formula for the device. The scientists then all watch as the nuclear device is shot from the space station and destroys Planet R, cooling the atmosphere and removing the threat. Ginko then changes back to her original form aboard the space station.


After the success of Toho's 1954 film Godzilla, which depicted a giant dinosaur attacking Tokyo, many Japanese film studios began to produce similar monster films, including Warning from Space.[1][2] Along with other films such as Shintōhō'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 used the theme of atomic bombs that was present in many films 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 that is common among science fiction aliens.[9] Although official film posters showed the Pairan aliens towering over buildings, the actual cinematic version of the aliens 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]


Warning From Space was released in Japan in 1956.[14] Daiei also hoped to find a foreign market for Warning from Space, though the company found difficulty in selling it.[15] Nevertheless, the film played at both King Cinema in Rangoon, Burma[16] and Tai Khoon Theatre in Sandakan, Malaysia, in 1958.[13] The film did help Daiei achieve some success in the genre.[17] It was passed for release, anglicized as Warning from Space, by the BBFC in the United Kingdom in 1957,[18] and later in the United States in 1963.[19] It was picked up by American International Television later in the 1960s.[15] The film was released in Spain as Asalto a la Tierra,[7] and in France as Le Satellite Mystérieux.[20] Warning from Space has since fallen into the public domain,[21] allowing companies to distribute the free film on DVD.[22]


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.[23] Similarly, in a 1978 issue of the magazine Cue, viewers were warned "don't watch it."[24] 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.[25] 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.[26]

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]


Warning from Space influenced Toho's Gorath, a 1963 film which depicts a rogue planet on a collision course with Earth.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29] The Pairans' asteroidean appearance is similar to that of a later pentagrammic creation, Starro, a villain from DC Comics' Justice League.[30][31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Prakash, Gyan (2010). Noir Urbanisms: Dystopic Images of the Modern City. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 112. ISBN 0691146446. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  2. ^ Ryfle, Steve (1998). Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G". Toronto: ECW Press. p. 65. ISBN 1550223488. Retrieved April 28, 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 0811860787. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ Shapiro, Jerome Franklin (2002). Atomic Bomb Cinema: The Apocalyptic Imagination on Film. New York: UNC Press Books. p. 462. ISBN 0415936608. Retrieved April 30, 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 0805065113. Retrieved May 22, 2011. 
  6. ^ Lifton, Robert Jay (1991). Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima. London: Psychology Press. p. 363. ISBN 080784344X. Retrieved April 30, 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 8483013339. Retrieved May 22, 2011. 
  8. ^ Introduction. Taro Okamoto Museum of Art (in Japanese). Retrieved May 22, 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 0313329524. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c Baxter, John (1997). Stanley Kubrick: A Biography. New York: Basic Books. p. 200. ISBN 0786704853. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  11. ^ Lee, Walt (Compiler) (1974). Reference Guide to Fantastic Films: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Los Angeles: Chelsea Lee Books. p. 324. ISBN 0913974021. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  12. ^ Hasegawa, Saiji (1964). Japan Trade Guide With a Comprehensive Mercantile Directory. Tokyo: Jiji Press. p. 207. Retrieved May 22, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Leaflet: Warning From Space. Malaysia Design Archive. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  14. ^ Galbraith, Stuart (1994). Japanese Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. McFarland. p. 308. ISBN 0-89950-853-7. 
  15. ^ a b Shoemaker, Greg (1979). "Daiei: A History of the Greater Japan Motion Picture Company". The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal (12): 14. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  16. ^ Far East Film News (January 17): 21. 1958.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ Sewell, Keith and Guy Mariner Tucker (1995). "The Gamera Saga". G-FAN (14). Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  18. ^ Warning from Space BBFC. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  19. ^ Young, R.G. (2000). The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film: Ali Baba to Zombies. New York: Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 663. ISBN 1557832692. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  20. ^ Un Siècle de Cinéma Fantastique et de SF. Paris: Éditions Le Manuscrit. 2005. p. 467. ISBN 2748160738. Retrieved May 22, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Warning from Space (1960)". Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  22. ^ " Warning from Space". Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  23. ^ Mitchell, Charles (2001). A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 276. ISBN 0313315272. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Warning from Space". Cue (Cue Publishing Co.) 7 (1-6). 1978. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  25. ^ Hardy, Phil and Denis Gifford (1986). Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies. Minneapolis: Woodbury Press. p. 163. ISBN 083000436X. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  26. ^ West, Michael (May 28, 2009). "Public Perception of Astronomers: Revered, Reviled and Ridiculed" (PDF). New York: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved September 25, 2012. 
  27. ^ Valdron, Den. "Gorath, the Mystery Planet". The Godzilla Saga. Retrieved December 30, 2010. 
  28. ^ Valdron, Den. "Gamera: The World of Tera". The Godzilla Saga. Retrieved April 15, 2011. 
  29. ^ 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 April 28, 2011. 
  30. ^ 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 April 28, 2011. 
  31. ^ 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 April 28, 2011. 

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