Mothra vs. Godzilla

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) movie poster

(1964) dir. Ishirô Honda
viewed: 11/21/08

Unlike going through most franchises of filmographies, Felix and Clara and I are hitting Godzilla at random and on request.  It’s only a little problematic in that I picked of the first ones to show them the ones that I thought they would like the most: Son of Godzilla (1967) and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), and then was letting them pick from the title bout match-ups.

But since this turned into a bit more of a steady and on-going thing, I’ve backed up a bit and have been thinking of returning to the earlier films and then working our way back.  Besides, they don’t have any real clue about order (not that it really impedes on any of the films’ narratives other that when Godzilla went from being a villain to a hero).  So, I picked Mothra vs. Godzilla, which wasn’t one of the ones that I remembered so well.

I always found Mothra to be pretty lame, and I was (as a kid) annoyed that he is portrayed as a hero and a champion better than Godzilla earlier on, too.  Godzilla was my favorite,…what took the Japanese so long to figure it out?  Whether he is a giant colorful moth (so scary!) or a crawling caterpillar (even less scary, wouldn’t you say?), he’s never had anything on the big green dinosaurish, radioactive breath-spewing behemoth.

Like many of the films, this one features a pretty well-spelled out anti-war anti-nuclear testing theme, environmental destruction, and responsibility implied.  Mothra comes from an island largely devastated by nuclear testing.  It’s not clear if he is some pre-existing spiritual god or a mutant.  I guess that is part of what these giant monsters are all about anyways, a mixture of traditional mythology with modern day sci-fi coolness.

The battles are not top notch.  And the story, which I actually found to be a bit more well-constructed than usual, bored the kids with the long build-up to the action.  A giant egg washes up on a beach after a major tropical storm.  Evil capitalists “buy” the egg and want to exploit it, refuse to return it to the miniature women who represent Mothra, and then Godzilla pops up.  The people have to turn to Mothra to save them from Godzilla.  As I’ve read it, this was Godzilla’s last full-on “bad guy” role in the original series of films.

I do have to say that both the kids were pretty into it, Clara included.  Felix expressed his frustration with the lack of action, but it wasn’t until pretty far into the film.  Clara is pretty funny watching these films, the way she talks about the action and the events, waiting for the giant egg to hatch (which does take its damn time!)  It’s fun.  I’m sure there will be more.

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