Mothra

  • Japan 1961
  • 101 min
  • 35mm
  • Japanese with English subtitles
New 35mm print!
Hosted by Ed Godziszewski, editor and publisher of JAPANESE GIANTS magazine

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Credits

Director: Ishiro Honda
Screenplay: Shinichi Sekizawa, from Shinichiro Nakamura, Takehiko Fukunaga and Zenei Hotta
Cast: Hiroshi Koizumi, Frankie Sakai, Kyoko Kagawa, Emi and Yumi Ito (the Peanuts), Jerry Ito
Producers: Tomoyuki Tanaka
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

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Description

A typhoon causes a shipwreck near Infant Island, an atomic test site. Miraculously, survivors are found, and they report being saved by natives of the supposedly uninhabited island. A scientific expedition is sent to investigate, headed up by the mysterious Clark Nelson, representing the government of Rolisica, which had carried out the atomic test. To their surprise, they find a still-thriving jungle in the centre of the island where people have survived. Even more amazing, they discover two tiny girls, only 30cm tall. While the scientists decide to keep the existence of the fairies secret, Nelson kidnaps them and then exploits them as the main attraction in a musical stage show. But the girls share a mental link with the protector god of Infant Island, the monster Mothra. A giant egg hatches an enormous caterpillar which instinctively heads directly for Japan to rescue the fairies. Anything that gets in its way is destroyed, and the military is helpless to stop the creature. But the worst is yet to come as the larva is about to morph into a gigantic moth whose wings can create a hurricane of destruction.

MOTHRA is an landmark in the annals of giant-monster films. Unlike its predecessors, this is the first Toho monster film that is strictly fantasy—the monster is not a freak of nature or the by-product of man's irresponsibility, and is not vanquished at the conclusion. Its origins are mysterious, but its purpose is peaceful—it causes destruction only because of its desire to rescue its human counterparts. In 1961, MOTHRA still carried an anti-nuclear message, but it signalled a shift in tone for future Toho films, to more family-oriented fare. As a character, Mothra would become one of Toho’s most popular stars, appearing in a total of seven Godzilla films as well as its own series between 1996 and 1998. The 1992 feature GODZILLA VS. MOHTRA was Toho's biggest money maker in the revived Godzilla series of the ’90s, and Mothra's last appearance came in GODZILLA FINAL WARS (2004). Mothra has always had a large following among female moviegoers in Japan because of its benevolent nature and its association with the twin fairies, portrayed by the international pop singing sensation, the Peanuts. MOTHRA also boasts a magnificent display of miniature special effects from Eiji Tsuburaya and his team of craftsmen.

—André Dubois & Ed Godziszewski

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