Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)


After the runaway success of “King Kong vs. Godzilla”, Toho decided that it was time to capitalize on their potential giant monster moneymaker, and paired Godzilla up with a monster from their own growing stable.  “Mothra” was released in 1961, and featured a giant caterpillar (which later becomes a giant moth) which comes to Japan to save its two diminutive priestesses.  That particular movie featured an evil businessman who kidnapped the priestesses, and the love of money over life was a strong theme.  It was decided that the next Godzilla movie would serve as a sequel of sorts to “Mothra”, with many of the same themes present.  It was with this movie that the various Toho monsters began to merge into a sort of shared universe.

A large typhoon washes up a giant egg onto the shore near a small fishing village.  Teams of scientists come to study the egg, and reporter Sakai and his photographer Nakanishi arrive to report on the findings.  However, the crowd is chased off by a businessman named Kumayama.  Kumayama claims he has bought the egg from the local fisherman, and intents to build an attraction based around the egg.  Later, as Kumayama is meeting with his business associate Torahata, they are visited by the Shobijin, the twin priestesses of Mothra.  The Shobijin warn the men that the egg belongs to Mothra, and she will be unhappy if it is not returned.


Radioactivity on the beach begins to rise, and Godzilla appears and begins a new tour of destruction.  Sakai and Nakanishi decide the best thing to do would be to enlist Mothra’s help, and head to Infant Island to plead their case.  Mothra’s priestesses are against helping humanity, as they see Godzilla as mankind’s punishment for using nuclear weapons.  However, Mothra takes pity on the people and agrees to fight Godzilla on their behalf, though she is in the last days of her life and will not likely survive.  Meanwhile, Torahata and Kumayama argue about money connected to the egg.  Kumayama is shot in the struggle, but Torahata is caught in the building as Godzilla destroys it.  It is apparent that Godzilla is seeking out the egg to destroy it.  Mothra arrives and fights Godzilla.  She appears to have the upper hand,  but her age takes its toll and Mothra dies with her wing covering the egg.  Godzilla moves in to destroy the egg, but it hatches and two Mothra larvae appear from it.  The larvae blast Godzilla with silk strings until he is wrapped up like a cocoon.  Godzilla falls into the ocean, and the larvae make their way to Infant Island.


“Mothra vs. Godzilla” came out at a time when Japan was starting to become a player in the world economic stage.  The dangers of greed and lack of care for humanity are major themes in the movie.  Corrupt businessmen are the villains, while the closer-to-nature servants of Mothra are the clear forces of good.  The movie seems eager to warn about runaway commercialism, especially when nature suffers as a result.  This can be seen as a parallel to Godzilla’s original theme of the danger of nuclear weapons.

Godzilla’s stock with the Japanese public rose significantly after “King Kong vs. Godzilla” (at the time that movie came out, Kong was more popular in Japan than Godzilla was), and “Mothra vs. Godzilla” was the first step in solidifying that status.  The next movie would come out the same year, and it was decided that Godzilla should make a turn for the heroic, by adding a monster that was truly evil…


The American version was originally titled “Godzilla vs. The Thing”, and the ad campaign centered around the mystery of what would hatch from the egg.  This was the first Godzilla movie in which no scenes were added to the American version.

The original screenplay featured an unconscious (believed dead) Godzilla washing up instead of the Mothra egg.  This idea was dropped when it was decided that people would not be eager to stand around Godzilla’s dead, possibly radioactive body.

The scene where Godzilla’s head catches on fire was an accident, the suit’s head actually caught on fire.  Since the suit actor’s head was in Godzilla’s neck, he was unaware of the accident until later.



~ by Chris on April 21, 2014.

One Response to “Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)”

  1. […] By Chris […]

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