Mothra (モスラ?) is a Mosura1961 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.
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 role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Takehiro Fukunaga, Yoshie Hotta, Shinichiro Nakamura, Shinichi Sekizawa
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Music by Yuji Koseki
- Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
- Edited by Kazuji Taira
- Production design by Teruaki Abe, Takeo Kita, Akira Watanabe
- Special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya
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
- 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)
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.
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 1964 Godzilla film, Mothra vs. Godzilla, and countless other films in the series afterward.
Mothra eventually received her own trilogy of films in the late 1990s. 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.
Home media releases
|Sony||August 18, 2009||Region 1||Japanese|
|N/A||Part of a triple feature with H-Man and Battle in Outer Space|
|Mill Creek||February 25, 2015||Region 1||English||N/A||Bundled with 20 Million Miles to Earth, The Giant Claw, and It Came From Beneath the Sea|