Mothra

Japan Release: 1961
Running Time:
101 minutes

Mothra


Japanese Title

モスラ
[Mosura]

Distributor: Production:

Toho
Toho

Shipwreck survivors are discovered on the mysterious Infant Island, a desolated isle due to nuclear testing. An expedition is sent to check on the survivors' story of a lush inner island, and discover the Shobijin fairies living in the central island paradise. A member of the team, Clark Nelson, attempts to kidnap them, but is convinced by his teammates and the nearby natives to leave them alone. This is short lived, as Nelson sets off on another expedition and captures the Shobijin while killing the natives who try to stop him. This awakens Mothra who travels to Japan, making a slow rampage on a direct path to try and recover the Shobijin...

Live Action Science Fiction Kaiju

Box Office - Stock Footage - DVDs - CDs - Pictures - Background - Concept Art - Cut Scenes - Reviews

Titles

International Title

Mothra

Initial US Title

Mothra
US Distributor: Columbia Pictures (1962) / Time: 90 Minutes

Alternate Titles

Mothra
[Literal Translation]

Mothra Threatens the World
[German]


Monsters


Aliens, SDF & Misc.


Staff

Cast

Directed by Ishiro Honda
Writing credits Takehiro Fukunaga, Yoshie Hotta, Shinichiro Nakamura, Shinichi Sekizawa
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Music by Yuji Koseki
Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
Film Editing by Kazuji Taira
Production Design by Teruaki Abe, Takeo Kita, Akira Watanabe
Assistant Director Samaji Nonagase
Director of Special Effects Eiji Tsuburaya
Senichiro Fukuda, Journalist Frankie Sakai
Shin'ichi Chujo, Doctor Hiroshi Koizumi
Michi Hanamura, Photgrapher Kyoko Kagawa
Harada, Doctor Ken Uehara
Shobijin Emi Ito, Yumi Ito
Clark Nelson Jerry Ito
News Editor Takashi Shimura
Shinji Chujo Akihiro Tayama
Roff, Doctor Obel Wyatt
Ship Doctor Akihiko Hirata
General Seizaburo Kawazu
Military Advisor Yoshifumi Tajima
Rolisican Cop Robert Dunham
Rolisican Ambassador Harold Conway
Helicoptor Pilot Kenji Sahara
Infant Island Natives Akira Yamada, Takeo Nagashima, Arai Hayamizu
Nelson's Henchmen Tetsu Nakamura, Akira Wakamatsu, Hiroshi Akitsu, Hiroshi Iwamoto, Toshio Miura, Osman Yusuf
Ship Captain Yoshio Kosugi
Ship Survivors Ren Yamamoto, Haruya Kato, Ko Mishima, Rinsaku Ogata
Announcer Kazuo Imai
Officials Wataru Omae, Kazuo Higata
Dam Workers Shoichi Hirose, Toshihiko Furuta
Reporter Koji Uno
Surveyors Tadashi Okabe, Akio Kusama, Mitsuo Tsuda
Police Officers Mitsuo Matsumoto, Hiroyuki Satake

Posters


Box Office

Release Date: July 30th, 1961 (Japan)
Budget: ¥200,000,000
Attendance: 9,000,000 (Japan)
Distribution Earning: ¥240,000,000 (Japan, Rough Figure)
Release Date: December 14th, 1974 (Japan, Re-Issue)

Toho Stock Footage


DVDs and Blu-rays

United States Region 1 Icons of Sci-fi: Toho Collection Sony (2009) Order
Japan Region 2 Mothra Toho (2003)
Japan Blu-Ray Mothra Toho (2009)

Background and Trivia

  • Columbia Pictures submitted the film to the US copyright office on March 1st, 1962 with the registration number of LP0000021393. The movie was submitted with the US title of Mothra. Columbia Pictured renewed this on January 27th, 1989. It wasn't until December 30th, 2002 that Toho finally registered the movie with the copyright office, under registration number PA0001139044. This registration contained the international title, Mothra, and the Romaji title, Mosura.
  • As production began, Columbia Pictures agreed to release Mothra in the US, before completion and abnormal to past practices they offered to help finance the production as well. However, the agreement came with the caveat of having Mothra attack a non-Japanese city. This prompted the climax to be changed and to feature Mothra in her Imago form attacking the fictional city of Newkirk City, modeled as the name implied off elements of New York. The country it takes place in, Rolisica, was named to recall both Russia (Roshia in Japanese) and America. Mentioned in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • On March 1st, 1961, Toho and Columbia released a press release stating how the latter was happy to be working with Toho to produce this new monster film and was looking to expand their presence in the Asian market. At the time of the release, the movie was referred to as "The Monster Mothra" in English. The release was signed by Toho's chief of production Sanezumi Fujimoto and the chief of Columbia's New York office William Schwartz. Noted in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • Around 9 million tickets were sold at the box office in Japan for Mothra. Adjusted for inflation, this places the movie behind only King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and Godzilla (1954) for most successful monster movie by Toho from the Showa era. Cited in Age of the Gods (self-published) and compared to data from Japan's Favorite Mon-Star (ISBN: 1550223488).
  • Was re-released as a triple bill with Latitude Zero (1969) and Burning Glory: Shigeo Nagashima, Uniform Number 3 (1974) in 1974 as part of the Toho Champion Festival. The re-released version was heavily cut, with a new runtime of about an hour. Latitude Zero (1969) was edited down in a similar way. Director Ishiro Honda personally oversaw the editing. However, he loathed the process, comparing it to self-mutilation. He did feel, though, that if it had to be done he was the best equipped to do it due to his familiarity with the material. Although often theorized that the films were edited down to make them more appealing to a younger audience, the triple bill in 1974 was a more adult and teenage skewing collection. Toho's reason for editing the films down was ultimately financial. The smaller runtimes permitted more screenings per day. Detailed in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • In 1976, was re-released as a triple bill with Godzilla (1954) and Rodan (1956). The billing was dubbed "Eiji Tsuburaya's World of Dreams." Unlike the 1974 re-release, this time the movie was unedited. The concept was revisited on November 28, 1982 with the same three films re-released, although no longer using the 'World of Dreams' title.
  • Of the films he wrote screenplays for, Shinichi Sekizawa was proudest of Mothra. Noted in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • The special effects staff was excited by the prospect of being able to build and destroy a miniature of Tokyo Tower, which had been completed and opened in December of 1958. This offered them the first opportunity for such a sequence, having avoided including the landmark in Battle in Outer Space (1959). Mentioned in Age of the Gods (self-published).
  • Composer Akira Ifukube refused to score Mothra as long as it featured the central piece of the Peanuts' song, stating "I could never write a song like that". Yuji Koseki was brought in to compose instead, also under contract with Columbia Records. Cited in Age of the Gods (self-published).

Concept Art


Cut Scenes

Saving Shinji

Saving Shinji

With Professor Chujo's son, Shinji, still kidnapped, Nelson attempts to flee with the Shobijin in a small private plane, before it crashes near a mountainside in Hokkaido. Armed, Nelson and his entourage trek up the mountain as Senichiro Fukuda and the authorities give chase. They manage to secure Shinji away from Nelson just as Mothra is seen flying in the distance.

Background:
The original climax for Mothra was entirely different from what ended up in the final print. Originally, Nelson and his group had planned to kidnap Shinji Chujo for a longer period of time, rather then leaving him tied up as they fled the country. Instead, they took the small boy on a private plane as they attempted to flee, only to accidentally crash near a mountainside. Meanwhile, the film's heroes are in close pursuit, having brought along the authorities to help save the boy. All of this takes place while Mothra is still in its cocoon, meaning that Fukuda and the others weren't originally planned to witness the birth of Mothra's Imago form. Instead they give chase to Nelson as Mothra breaks free after the Atomic Ray Gun attack. She then immediately flies to the mountainside after the Shobijin. It's hard to say how much of the original climax was finished before being cut, but there are a number of black and white production stills showing that the mountain chase sequence was filmed, at least in part.

 
Mothra Kills Nelson

Mothra Kills Nelson

As Nelson and his group are chased up into the mountains, Mothra arrives to save the Shobijin. Despite Nelson's efforts, the giant insect manages to force him off a cliff where he plummets to his death.

Background:
The original end of the film had Mothra actually sending Nelson off the mountain to his demise, as she personally would have saved the Shobijin. This scene, and a lot of events that led up to it, were all eventually cut from the movie when Columbia purchased some of the overseas distribution rights. The extra money from this was used to greatly increase the involvement of the Imago form in the movie, making Nelson flee to the mythical country of Rolisica so that Mothra can decimate the city in her pursuit of the Shobijin. Consequently, the entire climax had to be altered to fit, causing for a huge change from the original story. In terms of how much of it was filmed, there are a number of black and white production stills in existence that relate to Nelson and his group gaping in horror as Mothra approached them. In fact, the primary poster for the film even features a shot of Nelson screaming in terror, which was originally part of this sequence.


Reviews

Miles Imhoff [Columbia] Star Rating
August 13, 2004
Patrick Galvan Star Rating
May 22, 2015