(Godzillathon, 4 of 28) – Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

We find that a company is draining water from a portion of the ocean so that they can build their factory there. This isn’t particularly important. Or at least that’s how it comes across at the beginning of the film. Anyway, a typhoon comes along and hampers their progress, but they continue draining to cultivate the dry seabed. We also find that a large mysterious egg has washed up off the shore of Japan, stirring the media, fisherman, and some others. Those “others” include the higher ups at Happy Enterprises who purchase the egg. They plan to profit off the giant blue egg by making it the centerpiece to an amusement park.

Then the two men in charge of Happy Enterprises are introduced to the heralds of Mothra, the Shobijin as Toho Kaiju fans know them. They’re twin women small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, that talk in sync to an eerily mystical yet beautiful effect. They wish that they return the egg. Of course, as the true antagonists of the film, the men from ‘Happy’ tell them no, and wish to capture them – to no avail. The films protagonists are actually a team of reporters lead by Ichi, and the Shobijin appear to them next in all their tiny fairy-esque wonder and ask them to return Mothra’s egg. It turns out that Mothra is actually behind them watching the scene unfold.

Meanwhile, back where they just finished draining the seabed, the earth begins to start moving. If you remember the events of the last film, Godzilla and King Kong fell into the ocean from a cliff and only Kong got up to leave. Well, turns out this is where Godzilla was. Underneath the floor of the seabed they just so happened to be draining. I thought this was terribly well done, and seeing him rise was just so cool – especially with Ifukube’s music giving the scene some extra oomph. Godzilla then, right on cue, chooses to destroy as much as possible. It’s actually a bit odd at first, as he’s noticeably more clumsy, tripping down things, falling on buildings, and even had a tower topple onto him. But regardless, he’s causing a lot of trouble. Ichi and a few other reporters decide it’s time to ask the people of Infant Island for help, hoping that Mothra will come and intervene.

Like the first Godzilla film, this film drives home the point that nuclear testing is bad, and in a world now 20 years removed from the effects of WWII, it still feels those effects. The Shobijin (Mothra’s tiny twins) apparently were affected and that’s why they’re small. The people of Infant Island don’t wish or aid the Japanese, because of their inability to trust them. And then we hear something beautiful. Haunting and mesmerizing, the Shobijin sing their song – a song that doesn’t in any way feel dated. It truly brought me chills. Again they call Mothra buy a different chant, and the Kaiju agrees to help them.

It’s interesting that we get very little introduction to Mothra in this film – and then it hit me. He had previously had his own film all to himself just a few years prior to this films release. If they kept continuity with the titular kaiju Godzilla between films, why not keep continuity present between Toho’s other monsters. Japan had already met Mothra in the Toho universe. Anyway, this thought struck me as very well thought out for a series of monster flicks. The two, Godzilla and Mothra, brawl it out. Godzilla is dead set on destroying the big egg, while Mothra is intent on keeping it safe, and defending it. He at one point pulls Godzilla by the tail away from the egg and suffocates him in a cloud of poisonous dust, but Godzilla gets the better of him and Mothra is defeated.

In the wake of this the military fires basically all they had at him, and although that scene did drag slightly, the special effects, namely the pyrokinetics were gorgeous. There’s a point where Godzilla is being electrocuted and it’s basically torture – you just feel bad for the big guy. And then he kills them all. At long last, the egg hatches, initiating a new birth of Mothra, making it similar to a Phoenix in some respects. But this time two larvae exit the egg, and they take Godzilla down with silk webs.

I just can’t stress how awesome this movie was. The pinnacle of the series up to this point, Mothra vs. Godzilla astounds in every department. From Ishiro Honda’s excellent direction, to the beautiful sets built up to break down, to the powerful score composed by Akira Ifukube, the film has a magical feel. This marked the first time a monster came in specifically to save the day, not just to fight for the sake of it, or to destroy everything. The Shobijin are extremely mysterious and mythical in feel. I loved them. The films dark undertone about the effects of nuclear power gone awry and the power of doing the right thing when you have the opportunity is never so poignant. And then of course Mothra. By far (so far) Mothra is the most unique of the monsters, a mostly benevolent creature that rebirths in death in the form of a giant moth. Excellent. This movie realistically deserves a 9.5, but I rounded up. To explain my scoring, I compare each movie with itself. I don’t think it could’ve been any better if it tried.


Godzilla films ranked from best to worst:

  1. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
  2. Godzilla (1954)
  3. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
  4. Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

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