GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA

Poffy The Cucumber

Godzilla’s Mothman Chronicles.

The laugh-out-loud moment in GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA: Mothra uses his tiny little mothy feet to grab Godzilla’s tail and fly backwards, dragging Godzilla backwards along the ground, while Godzilla claws for purchase. The strength of this fluffy Lepidopteran!

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It’s another fine day in Tokyo, meaning it’s soon going to be raining daikaiju. (Thank you Toho Company!) A sliver of storyline pokes its head through the sand – as a developer flattens some seaside property for condos – until Godzilla pokes his head through the sand. Apparently, he’s been sleeping under there for god-knows-how-long and now wakes up and walks around Tokyo like he has something to do, tripping over radio towers, falling into temples and tumbling down hillsides like a klutz.

Perfunctory shots of people running and screaming. Stars of the movie filter out of the madding crowd to take their places as well-worn Godzilla Staples: the Scientist, the Soldier, the Reporter and the Annoying Little Kid– hang on! No Annoying Little Kid in this one! Thank God and his zilla for small mercies. These will be the Message Bearers, spouting the sober messages of “nuclear war is bad mmkay,” “Mankind working toward a brighter future because fighting is bad mmkay,” “we are all brothers and should share giant eggs mmkay”…

A gigantic egg has washed up onshore and some businessmen want to display it for cash, but two miniature women appear (regarded as “fairies” in Godzilla canon) and speak in unison very irritatingly asking for the egg to be returned to their island because, they warn, the creature that will hatch won’t be malicious but in its search for food it will disregard Mankind’s comfort. (This will prove to be complete bunkum just 20 minutes from now, but no one calls them on it.) Even though Reporter and Scientist try to help the fairies, Businessman gives them a big fat No on returning the egg. So a giant moth named Mosura (Mothra aka The Thing) carries them back to their island of fruity outfits. As they leave, they call out to Reporter and Scientist, “Goodbye friends! We’ll never forget your kindness!–

Five minutes later, when Reporter and Scientist ask for their help – that’s a big fat No. Uh, didn’t you just say, like five minutes ago…?

Meanwhile, Godzilla is still walking around aimlessly breaking stuff. Reporter and Scientist implore the islanders to send their giant moth to ward off Godzilla. But why are they asking for help from a moth? It’s a MOTH! Against a reptilian. Just because it’s big doesn’t mean it’s strong. If you pit a giant cow against a giant lion, the giant lion will still win. If you ask a giant moth to fight a giant crocodile [needle scratch]–

Cue laugh-out-loud moment above. Shee-it! That mothboy got game!

Surprisingly, some of the composite/process shots (showing the creatures in the same shots as people and miniatures) are quite stunning and we can imagine audiences of the day marveling at how it was done. And there are sincere attempts to flesh out the human stories, although I cannot forgive the token infantilization and dehumanization of the fairies. Just because they’re tiny people doesn’t mean they’re kids, or should be treated like pets (carried around in a closed handbox with no airholes!).

Mothra’s first appearance was in the 1961 Toho Company production MOTHRA (aka MOSURA), also directed by this movie’s helmer, and the man credited as the Godfather of Godzilla, the inimitable Ishirô Honda (GOJIRA, 1954). Who knows, this might be Mothra’s last appearance as he flies off to die after Godzilla’s atomic fire bests his yellow dust. (Or at least, to hibernate until the sequel.)

After defeating Mothra, Godzilla goes walking again – where, we will never know, because the Ineffectual Military are now plastering him with ineffectual artillery fire. After ten years of trying they still don’t know what time it is. Y’know, they pump so much flame at Godzilla that at one point, they actually set his headpiece on fire for a few seconds! Was that a mistake that made the final cut? (Yes it was, apparently.)

Intermittent cutaways to people running, to remind us that people are running. Children on an island running from Godzilla as if he’s targeting them specifically. We never know what’s going on in these movies, and I’m pretty sure the running people don’t know either. Wherever they run – there he is. So either they’re running in the wrong direction, or there’s more than one 200-foot creature with spikes on his back screeching like a girl-hawk.

This was to be the last film featuring “malicious Godzilla.” From this point on, filmmakers reworked his context to seem either beneficial to, or ambivalent about Mankind.

The giant egg hatches and two hideous larvae emerge, looking suspiciously like dog poo. Remember what the fairies said about seeking food and trampling over Mankind to get it? Nope, first thing on their to-do list is swim out to fight Godzilla. And if you thought the dragging-backwards-by-the-tail gag was funny, wait till you see that little dog poo latch onto Godzilla’s tail with his little mouth and hold on for dear life as he gets flung around! The guilty pleasure express is leaving and we’re all onboard. These larvae shoot some kind of silly-string jism at Godzilla and cocoon him, saving Mankind from his wrath. Until, we presume, they look for food and kill Mankind themselves…

END

Godzilla_titleGodzillaRaidsAgain_titleGodzillaKOTM_titleKingKongVersusGodzilla_titleGodzillaVsMothra_title2GhidorahTHM_titleGodzillaVsMonsterZero_titleGodzillaVsTheSeaMonster_T2SonOfGodzilla_TITLEGodzillasRevenge_titleGodzillaVsTheSmogM_titleGodzillaVsGigan_titleGodzillaVsMegalon_TITLETerrorOfMechagodzilla_titleReturnOfGodzilla_titleGodzilla1985_titleGodzillaVsBiollante_titleGodzillaVsMechaII_titleGodzillaVsDestoroyah_titleGodzilla2000_titleGodzillaAgainstMechagodzillGodzillaFinalWars_titleGodzilla2014_title
GodzillaVsMothra_title2GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA (Apr 1964)
aka: GODZILLA VS. THE THING.
aka: MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA.
aka: MOSURA TAI GOJIRA.
Director: Ishirô Honda.
Writer: Shin’ichi Sekizawa.
Starring: Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yû Fujiki, Emi Itô, Yûmi Itô, Yoshifumi Tajima, Kenji Sahara, Jun Tazaki, Kenzô Tabu.
GODZILLA: Haruo Nakajima.
Version: Japanese with English dubbing.
RATINGS-03imdb
Word Count: 1,110      No. 961
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Poffy-SezWhat am I looking at?
Watching old Godzilla films is very dicey in the late 2000s, because there are so many edits circulating worldwide. Recut by different distributors for time and content, recut by different nations for political tensions between Japan and United States, recut with different translations or dubbing; how does one even get the chance to watch the purest Japanese-language version with English subtitles?

Even the titles of these films vary from country to country and change over time (this movie was originally titled MOSURA TAI GOJIRA, the English dub titled it GODZILLA VS. THE THING and it ended up GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA.

I can only presume that the inferior English-dubbed versions have been so aggressively promulgated over the years that audiences have been conditioned to view Godzilla movies in this manner, leaving no demand for the original audio. And that is a big factor in keeping these movies B-grade or lower in perception if not in execution. (Watch both versions of SEVEN SAMURAI (original audio with subtitles, and English dub) and see how the English dub makes that 10-Cukee movie appear B-grade and comical in all the wrong places.)

All I’m saying, I guess, is that this review only reflects the movie as I viewed it – and who knows what version that was?

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