Godzilla against Mothra came out in 1964 and is the fourth Godzilla film we’ve decided to take a look at for our marathon. This one is generally received as one of the best and started a trend of using already established monsters besides Godzilla. It also has the honor of being directed by series regular Ishirō Honda, and featuring special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya (didn’t I warn you to get used to reading that sentence) Mothra originally appeared in the novel The Luminous Fairies and Mothra by Takehiko Fukunaga, then making her film début in the 1961 film Mothra. This film also is unique because the original version stayed pretty much intact for international releases, while most other Godzilla films tend to be drastically edited.
Mothra vs. Godzilla takes place a short while after his clash with King Kong apparently after being seriously wounded by Kong, Godzilla went into hibernation. The movie begins with photographer Junko Nakanishi taking pictures of the destruction caused by a typhoon. Later a giant egg is discovered on the shore. The local villagers and workers salvage it, and scientists come to study the egg. Before they get too far in their research a suave business man buys the egg and starts setting it up as a tourist attraction. Later as he is discussing the billion-dollar tourist attraction the egg represents, two tiny twin fairies interrupt them. The fairies explain that they are from Infant Island and that the egg belongs to their god Mothra, who lives there. If that sounds weird to you the series only gets more unusual after this film.
Meanwhile the photographer and a reporter are trying to raise public interest in the egg when they discover it’s radioactive. Upon further investigation of the beach Godzilla suddenly emerges out of the beach, and begins to attack Nagoya. An enraged Godzilla is out for all out destruction and with little other option the reporter and photographer beg the fairies for help from Mothra. The rest of the movie is a mix of singing and monster battles. Singing apparently convinces Mothra to take on Godzilla and the two square of.
This movie I must admit is interesting but as a follow up to King Kong vs. Godzilla it’ only average. The human characters are hit and miss the only two worth mentioning are the entrepreneur named Kumayama who is a smarmy conniving money making machine. He’s a mixture of the best clichés evil business men are associated with. Also Ichiro Sakai played by our series regular Akira Takarada as the determined reporter who sticks to his guns is pretty good too; he’s just trying to protect the people. The visual effects are a little bit varied Godzilla’s initial destruction of Nagoya is a good display of miniatures. It really shows the effort put into the miniatures when you notice the little details life paintings and license plates. There is also an amazing display where the American battleships step in and fail to control Godzilla. The fight between Mothra and Godzilla is not very climactic… its Godzilla fighting a moth who do you think wins? And the second fight between little Mothra larvae and Godzilla is embarrassing.
Overall this is just an average Toho production sandwiched in between what I consider two of the best Godzilla films. This is where the series started “mainstreaming” to appeal to kids and there are a few comedic moments scattered in. I think this begins to chip away at the seriousness and begins to dilute the initial message of the consequences of continued atomic energy from a country that experienced that damage first hand. I mean it’s hard to take that message seriously when you see Mothra inexplicable pick up Godzilla by the tail and drag him around. I still like this movie and I think any Godzilla fan needs to find this one as it a good entry in the original series, all things considered.
Best moment of destruction: Godzilla uses his atomic breath and melts an entire mountain range. That’s just awesome.