For the inaugural edition of this ongoing column, I’ll be looking at Mothra vs. Godzilla, from 1964. Before I get started, I would just like to say that I do not mean to come off as pretentious with the title of this column. “Movies I Like That You Don’t” is just a catchy title for a discussion on films that I enjoy that others may not like or even know they exist. Now, let’s get started!
Basic Synopsis: This is the fourth film in the cult-famous Godzilla series, released by Toho Studios. In this installment, a giant egg is discovered in Japanese waters after the country is hit by a devastating storm. It is soon discovered that this egg belongs to the winged monster-god, Mothra, who lives on Infant Island. The Shobijin, Mothra’s faeries, demand that the egg be returned, but they are refused by evil businessmen looking to make a quick buck off of the phenomenon. Soon afterwards, Godzilla returns to lay waste to Japan, sending the thousands of people running for their lives. A group of Japanese citizens travels to Infant Island to beg the natives and the faeries for Mothra’s help. While they refuse at first, Mothra herself is eventually persuaded by the genuine kindness and brotherly nature of the group, but it is also revealed that she is dying. Despite that, Godzilla and Mothra do battle, with the fate of Japan and the entire world hanging in the balance. And when things start looking ugly for Mothra, something begins to stir within the giant egg.
Why I Like It: I am not being biased here, or I’m trying not to be, at least. It is true that I am a huge Godzilla fan. However, this film is one of the best films of the entire giant monster (or daikaiju) film genre. It is a technological achievement, with fabulous special effects, especially the astounding scenes of city destruction caused by Godzilla. The acting is also some of the best that any of the Godzilla films has to offer, and the story is complex and intriguing, featuring themes such as the dangers of capitalism and greed, the role of women in society, brotherhood, tolerance, and acceptance.
Why You Don’t Like It: Basically, people don’t like this film because of all the stereotypes that Godzilla and other giant monster films endure. Giant monster films, specifically Godzilla or any genre film from Japan, have been stigmatized in the U.S. and the rest of the Western world as being silly, unintelligent, and cheaply done.
Why You Should Give This Film a Chance: While it is true that there is no Godzilla film with a budget anywhere near a Hollywood feature, and there are one or two installments that are downright silly and shallow, this cannot be said for Mothra vs. Godzilla — or most of the other Godzilla films. Forget any ideas or stereotypes you might have about poorly done English dubbing with unrealistic, funny voices and bad acting done by men in cheap, rubber monster suits. You should watch this film in its original Japanese because that is the right way to watch it. But, if you are not so daring, you can watch the English dubbed version, which is one of the best dubbed tracks I have ever seen, for a Japanese film. If you were to give this film a chance, you would witness an enjoyable and satisfying film in a misunderstood genre.
For more information on Godzilla and other Japanese giant monster, horror, science fiction, and fantasy films, visit www.tohokingdom.com.