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Mosura

Mothra
Mothra bedroht die Welt

Japan 1961
produced by
Tomoyuki Tanaka for Toho
directed by Ishiro Honda
starring Frankie Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kyoko Kagawa, Ken Uehara, Emi Ito, Yumi Ito, Jerry Ito, Takashi Shimura, Tetsu Nakamura, Akihiro Tayama, Obel Wyatt, Akihiko Hirata, Seizaburo Kawazu, Yoshifumi Tajima, Robert Dunham, Harold Conway, Johnny Yuseph (= Osman Yusuf), Yoshio Kosugi, Ren Yamamoto, Haruya Kato, Ko Mishima, Rinsako Ogata
screenplay by Shinichi Sekizawa, based on a story by Yoshie Hotta, Shinichiro Nakamura, & a novel by Takehiko Fukunaga, special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, Akira Watanabe, music by Yuji Koseki

Mothra

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When a handful of people not only survive a shipwreck but also several days on Infant Island virtually unharmed, this is a major miracle, since Infant Island is supposed to be highly irradiated. So reporter Ten Fukuda (Frankie Sakai) & photographer Michi (Kyoko Kagawa) decide this would be a major story & try to persuade scientist & linguist Chuzo (Hiroshi Koizumi) to mount an expedition to Infant Island & try to make contact with the natives who apparently live there.

It isn't easy to persuade him, but when the expedition finally falls together, the reporters are in for a disappointment: Rolisikan rich man Nelson (Jerry Ito) has taken the lead of the expedition, allegedly on behalf of the Rolisikan gouvernment (after all, Infant Island lies somewhere in Rolisikan territory), & not only does he seem liek pure evil n first sight, he also expressly eyxcludes the press from the expedition ... only Ten womehow manages to sneak aboard, & learns from Chuzo that Nelson is not only bullying the press but the scientists as well ...

Soon, the expedition encounters 2 tiny twin fairies, the Cosmos (Emi Ito, Yumi Ito), who appear to be quite friendly ... but that doesn't keep Nelson from wanting to capture them (for a show he plans to put on, actually. Only the natives of Infant Island, who appear out of nowhere, prevent his evil plans ...

But of course, while back in Japan, Ten & Chuzo try to figure out some of the inscriptions found on Infant Island & come up with a thing called Mothra, Nelson goes back to Infant Island, captures the Cosmos, but this time he has brought several gunmen with him who simply shoot down the nativeswho try to prevent them ...

One of the dieing natives though has enough life in him to call on Mothra, which turns out to be ... a giant egg ?

In Japan, Nelson puts the Cosmos on display in a cheesy stageshow, during which they sing a few musical numbers - & his argument always is, could they sing if they are unhappy ? What he doesn't know though is that their singing causes the giant egg to hatch, & out of it emerges ... a giant caterpillar (about 300 feet long, one character guesses), & the caterpillar immediately leaves Infant Island heading for Japan.

Meanwhile, Chuzo, Ten & Michi try their best to persuade Nelson to set the Cosmos free, or free tehm themselves, but to no avail, & the authorities refuse to help them in their cause because they dont't want to jeopardize their diplomatic relations to Rolisika. Meanwhile Mothra is closing in on Japan, destroying everything in its path & surviving one army attack after the other virtually unscathed. & even while Mothra makes its way through Tokyo, & the relation between the giant caterpillar & the tiny fairies becomes clearer & clearer, the gouvernment hesitates to take any steps against Nelson the Rolisikan citizen ...

It is not until Mothra spins a cocoon around herself next to Tokyo Tower that an arrest warrant for nelson is issued ... but by that time, nelson has already fled country for Rolisika, with the Cosmos in his (executive) luggage.

Rolisika meanwhile has shown sympathetic to Japan's plight & send some top of the art atomic cannons which are now used against the cocooned in Mothra, & it looks as if the cocoon would burn to cinder ... until a giant butterfly emerges from it, just stops long enough to blow away the atom cannons with a single beat of its wings, then takes off to Rolisika.

Nelson has thought himself safe in Rolisika, but all of a sudden not only is the country (& he, too) threatened by Mothra, but also public opinion has turned against him, & when an angry mob catches him, with the Cosmos, they almost try to lynch him, & when he wants to shoot his way out, he is shot by the police ...

So now the gouvernment has gotten hold of the Cosmos, but how to communicate to Mothra that they merely want to give them back ?

To this end, Chuzo, Ten & Michi, those closest to the Cosmos, are invited to Rolisika, & soon they come up with a plan relying on (of all things) Christian symbolism & church bells to calm down Mothra & hand her over the fairies, who then fly back to Infant Island, & Rolisika (as well as Japan) is saved ...

 

Of all of Toho's & Inoshiro Honda's monster movies, Mothra is quite possibly the most humane - for once, the monster is right, while everybody (well, not everybody) else is wrong. The film might be a bit cheesier than Hoda's earlier films, but to avoid an all-out kitsch attack, Honda would balance it all out with the usual massive destruction scenes (the scenes where Mothra simply blows away cars & tanks are especially beautiful) & a human subplot that is more accomplished & more interesting than usual for Toho monstermovies.

The film would be successful enough for Mothra to return 3 years later in Mosura tai Gojira/Godzilla vs Mothra (actually a bit of a remake of Mothra, with Godzilla thrown in), before Mothra would become a trusted sidekick in many Godzilla films. In 1996, Mothra would actually get her own series. However, most later entries into the Mothra series would either be rather mindless monster bouts or actual kitsch fests, & none would reach the quality of the first Mothra.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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