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Mothra (1961 film)

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Mothra Films
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Mothra
Rebirth of Mothra
Toho Kaiju Film
Mothra 1961 Poster
Mothra
Directed by                   Produced by
Ishiro Honda Tomoyuki Tanaka
Written by                       Music by  
Takehiro Fukunaga
Yoshie Hotta
Shinichiro Nakamura
Shinichi Sekizawa
Yuji Koseki
Distributed by                       Rating      
Toho Company Ltd.JP
Columbia PicturesUS
Not Rated
  Budget                           Box Office
¥200,000,000  ?,???,???
Running Time
101 minutesJP,
90 minutesUS
Designs Used
ShodaiMosuLarva, ShodaiMosuImago, ShodaiShokubutsu

Mothra (モスラ,   Mosura?) is a 1961 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho Company Ltd., and the first film to feature the character Mothra. It is an adaptation of the serial novel The Luminous Fairies and Mothra, published in Weekly Asahi earlier in 1961. The film was released to Japanese theaters on July 30, 1961.


Plot

An expedition to an irradiated island brings civilization in contact with a primitive native culture. When one sensationalist entrepreneur tries to exploit the islanders, their ancient deity arises in retaliation.

In waters off Infant Island, a presumably uninhabited site for Rolisican atomic tests, the Daini-Gen'you-Maru is caught and run aground in the turbulence of a typhoon. A rescue party following the storm finds four sailors alive and strangely unafflicted with radiation sickness, which they attribute to the juice provided them by island natives. The story is broken by tenacious reporter Zenichiro (also known as "Bulldog" or "Zen-chan") Fukuda (Frankie Sakai) and photographer Michi Hanamura (Kyoko Kagawa), who infiltrate the hospital examining the survivors.

The Rolisican Embassy responds by co-sponsoring a joint Japanese–Rolisican scientific expedition to Infant Island, led by capitalist Clark Nelson (Jerry Ito). Also on the expedition are radiation specialist Dr. Harada (Ken Uehara), linguist Shin'ichi Chūjō (Hiroshi Koizumi), and stowaway reporter Fukuda. There the team discover a vast jungle of mutated flora, a fleetingly-glimpsed native tribe, and minuscule twin girls (the Peanuts, Emi and Yumi Ito). These "small beauties", as Fukuda calls them, wish their island to be spared further atomic testing. Acknowledging this message, the team returns and conceals these events from the public.

Nelson, however, returns to the island with a crew of henchmen and abducts the girls, gunning down several natives who try to save them. While Nelson profits off a "Secret Fairies Show" in Tokyo featuring the girls singing, both they and the island natives beseech their god Mothra, a giant egg, for help. Fukuda, Hanamura, and Chūjō communicate with the girls via their telepathic ability; they express conviction that Mothra will come to their aid. Meanwhile, Fukuda's newspaper has accused Nelson of holding the girls against their will; Nelson denies the charge and files a libel suit against the paper. Meanwhile, the island egg hatches to reveal a gigantic caterpillar, which begins swimming the Pacific Ocean toward Japan. The caterpillar destroys a cruise ship and survives a napalm attack on a beeline path for Tokyo. The Rolisican Embassy, however, defends Nelson's property rights over the girls, ignoring any connection to the monster.

Mothra finally arrives on the Japanese mainland, impervious to the barrage of weaponry directed at it, ultimately building a cocoon in the ruins of Tokyo Tower. Public feeling turns against Nelson, and he is ordered to release the girls. He flees incognito to Rolisica, where Mothra, newly hatched in an imago form, immediately resumes her search. Police scour New Kirk City for Nelson as Mothra lays waste to the metropolis. Ultimately Nelson is killed in a shootout with police, and the girls are assigned to Chūjō's care. Observing a religious significance in Mothra's unique symbol, Chūjō hits upon a novel way to attract Mothra to an airport runway. The girls are returned amid salutations of "sayōnara", and Mothra flies back to Infant Island.

Staff

Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

Cast

Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.

  • Frankie Sakai   as   Journalist Senichiro Fukuda
  • Hiroshi Koizumi   as   Doctor Shinichi Chujo
  • Kyoko Kagawa   as   Photgrapher Michi Hanamura
  • Ken Uehara   as   Doctor Harada
  • Yumi Ito, Emi Ito   as   Shobijin
  • Jerry Ito   as   Clark Nelson
  • Takashi Shimura   as   News Editor
  • Akihiro Tayama   as   Shinji Chujo
  • Obel Wyatt   as   Roff, Doctor
  • Akihiko Hirata   as   Ship Doctor
  • Kawazu   as   General Seizaburo
  • Yoshifumi Tajima   as   Military Advisor
  • Robert Dunham   as   Rolisican Cop
  • Harold Conway   as   Rolisican Ambassador
  • Kenji Sahara   as   Helicoptor Pilot
  • Akira Yamada, Takeo Nagashima, Arai Hayamizu   as   Infant Island Natives
  • Tetsu Nakamura, Akira Wakamatsu, Hiroshi Akitsu, Hiroshi Iwamoto, Toshio Miura, Osman Yusuf   as   Nelson's Henchmen
  • Yoshio Kosugi   as   Ship Captain
  • Ren Yamamoto, Haruya Kato, Ko Mishima, Rinsaku Ogata   as   Ship Survivors
  • Kazuo Imai   as   Announcer
  • Wataru Omae, Kazuo Higata   as   Officials
  • Shoichi Hirose, Toshihiko Furuta   as   Dam Workers
  • Koji Uno   as   Reporter
  • Tadashi Okabe, Akio Kusama, Mitsuo Tsuda   as   Surveyors
  • Mitsuo Matsumoto, Hiroyuki Satake   as   Police Officers

Appearances

Monsters

Weapons, Vehicles, and Races

Gallery

Main article: Mothra (1961 film)/Gallery.

Soundtrack

Main article: Mothra (1961 film soundtrack).

Alternate Titles

  • Mothra Threatens the World (Mothra bedroht die Welt, Germany)
  • Mothra the Indestructible (Mothra la indestructible, Mexico)
  • Mothra, the Wild Goddess (Mothra, a Deusa Selvagem, Brazil)

Theatrical Releases

U.S. Release

Mothra-movie-poster-1961-1020142822

Poster for the American release of Mothra

Columbia Pictures distributed Mothra in the United States in a double bill with The Three Stooges in Orbit. Columbia removed about ten minutes of footage from the Japanese version of the film and rearranged some scenes, as well as dubbing the dialogue into English.

Reception

Mothra was a considerable critical and financial success in Japan. It launched the career of screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa, who would go on to write several Godzilla films as well as contribute to Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman series. The monster Mothra would go on to become a very popular character, appearing in the Godzilla series film Mothra vs. Godzilla in 1964 and countless other films in the series afterward. Mothra eventually received her own trilogy of films in the late 1990's. Mothra also received favorable reviews in the United States when it was released there, with critics praising its cinematography and special effects.

Mothra remains a popular and beloved film among fans of the kaiju genre, due to its unique story and the fact that it introduced the fan-favorite kaiju Mothra.

Video Releases

Sony (2009)

  • Released: August 18, 2009
  • Region: Region 1
  • Language: Japanese, English
  • Note: Part of a triple feature with H-Man and Battle in Outer Space

Mill Creek (2014)

  • Released: February 25, 2015
  • Region: Region 1
  • Language: English
  • Note: Part of a collection with 20 Million Miles to Earth, The Giant Claw, and It Came From Beneath the Sea

Videos

Trailers

Era Icon - Toho
Era Icon - Showa
Era Icon - Mothra
Era Icon - Vampire Plant

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