Mothra – Japan, 1961

‘Mightiest monster in all creation!’

Mothra – original title: モスラ Mosura – is a 1961 Japanese science fiction kaiju tokusatsu feature film directed by Ishirō Honda (Matango; The Human Vapour; The H-Man; Godzilla) from a screenplay by Shinichi Sekizawa (Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and many Godzilla films). The Toho Studios production stars Furankî Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi and Kyôko Kagawa.

The special effects were supervised by Eiji Tsuburaya.

Columbia Pictures distributed Mothra in the USA with a shorter running time.

Plot:

Following reports of human life on Infant Island, the supposedly deserted site of atomic bomb tests, an international expedition to the heavily-radiated island discovers a native tribe and tiny twin female fairies called “Shobijin” who guard a sacred egg.

The overzealous expedition leader kidnaps the Shobijin to exhibit in a Tokyo stage show but soon they summon their protector, hatching the egg and releasing a giant caterpillar. Mothra transforms into the ultimate beast, impervious to modern weapons, the nation and its people face their destruction…

New release:

Mill Creek Entertainment is releasing Mothra in the USA in a Blu-ray special edition SteelBook on July 9, 2019, including both the original Japanese version and the U.S. theatrical cut.

  • Widescreen
  • DTS-HD Master Audio for both English and Japanese tracks
  • Audio commentary with authors/historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski
  • Trailers
  • Photo gallery

Reviews:

“While Mothra lacks the emotional impact of Kong, its titular monster only causes harm as a means to protect itself and the fairies. Mothra also adds a rare feminine perspective to the kaiju oeuvre, supplemented by more fantastical and comedic components.” Alex DiVincenzo, Broke Horror Fan

“Though Mothra’s destructive abilities are similar to Rodan’s (the monster’s wings cause hurricane-like winds), it’s a pretty unique creation, especially in that it has two forms – the caterpillar form and the full-grown moth form. The social ill that serves as the enemy this time is entrepreneurial greed…” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“We’ve got a slick inversion of King Kong, a somewhat more skillful reprise of the city-smashing scenes from Rodan […] Not only that, Mothra features the largest-scale miniatures in the entire Toho canon, making for the most beautifully detailed destruction of Tokyo yet filmed. But somehow the parts don’t quite fit together right.” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“The scenes of model destruction with the Mothra larva rampaging across the countryside and then its emergence in winged form are especially good […] At its oddest, Mothra becomes a fairy-tale of the bizarre, where the eye-poppingly attractive Tohoscope colour and the array of exotic dancers, psychedelic jungles and the miniature twin sisters creates a marvellously colourful world all unto itself.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“Even if one ignores its obvious subtexts, Mothra is still a crackling, funky monster movie, featuring memorable tunes (the tiny singers’ ditty that summons their protector has been stuck in my head for a week) and some indelible characters. Koizimi is terrific as the initially reluctant but ultimately dignified linguist…” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!

“The movie surrounding the monster itself isn’t quite as cool, sadly. It’s awfully talky, especially in the early going. The human villain is bland as all get-out. His main crime is stomping all over an ancient civilization and exploiting the princesses for his own financial gain […] this is one of those thought-provoking types of monster flicks.” Mitch Lovell, The Video Vacuum

Cast and characters:

  • Furankî Sakai … Senichiro ‘Sen-chan’ Fukuda
  • Hiroshi Koizumi … Dr. Shin’ichi Chûjô
  • Kyôko Kagawa … Photographer Michi Hanamura
  • Yumi Itô … Shobijin (Twin Fairy) (as Yumi Ito)
  • Emi Itô … Shobijin (Twin Fairy)
  • Jerry Itô … Kurâruku Neruson (as Jerî Itô)
  • Ken Uehara … Dr. Harada
  • Akihiko Hirata … Doctor
  • Kenji Sahara … Helicopter Pilot
  • Seizaburô Kawazu … General
  • Takashi Shimura … News Editor
  • Yoshio Kosugi … Ship Captain
  • Yoshifumi Tajima … Military Advisor
  • Ren Yamamoto … Ship Survivor
  • Haruya Katô … Ship Survivor

Technical details:

  • 101 minutes
  • Eastmancolor
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
  • Perspecta Stereo

Pressbook image credit: Zombos Closet

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