Posts Tagged ‘Ishiro Honda’

Rodan (1956)

Posted: May 23, 2011 in Movie Review
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Rodan (1956)
{Sora no Daikaijū Radon}

Directed By: Ishirō Honda

Starring: Kenji Sahara, Yumi Shirakawa

Subgenre: Kaiju

Synopsis: Miners are disappearing in a small village and it is soon discovered that giant prehistoric insects are to blame.  Shortly after Shigeru (Sahara) and his team eradicate the insects, they discover a gigantic egg.  The egg hatches to reveal a large flying reptile, called Rodan.  Rodan begins attacking humans and is soon joined by another Rodan and the two of them battle the military.

Thoughts: This is another seminal Kaiju movie, as it was the first appearance of Rodan and the first Kaiju film that Toho produced in color.  Rodan would go on to appear in several more Kaiju films including Ghidora, the Three-Headed Monster, Destroy all Monsters and Godzilla: Final Wars. 

Personally, this is not one of my favorites.  The story is a little choppy with the introduction of the insects to begin with, and it never seems like the pacing is right.  I find this to be true in a lot of the early Kaiju flicks.  My favorites tend to come a little later in the genre.

It should be noted that there are two distinct versions of this movie, as a lot of changes were made for its US release, most of which are editing decisions or the addition of stock footage.

This is a movie that Kaiju fans should check out, mostly because of its importance to the genre, but I find some of the later entries to be more fun.

Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)

Directed By: Ishirō Honda, Terry Morse

Starring: Takashi Shimura, Akira Takarada, Raymond Burr, Frank Iwanaga, Momoko Kouchi

Subgenre: Kaiju

Synopsis: American Journalist Steve Martin finds himself in Tokyo with rumors of a “Monster God” destroying ships in the Sea of Japan.  Sure enough a giant monster soon appears hell bent on destroying Tokyo.  The monster is known in Japan as Gojira, but American audiences know him as GODZILLA!

Thoughts: First off, this is merely an Americanized version of Gojira, the original Godzilla movie, which was released in 1954.  New footage was shot and spliced in with Raymond Burr, among others.  I would probably never have watched this version if it were not for my Son’s love for old monster flicks.  The first time we watched this, he couldn’t read, so subtitles were out of the question.

The reediting process was fairly intricate for its time.  Several scenes were shot with Raymond Burr and spliced in to appear as if Burr was interacting with the original cuts.  Stand-ins were used for the original actors in some scenes as well, they were just shot from behind so it was difficult to tell it was not the original actor or actress.

The movie plays out much the same, with Godzilla eventually rising from the sea, stomping through scenery and causing all sorts of chaos.  I don’t know what it is that is so appealing about a guy in a rubber monster suit stomping on miniatures, but it sure as hell works.

There is no mistaking the similarity between Tokyo’s destruction by Godzilla and the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Godzilla is a very political movie on one hand, condemning the use and development of weapons of mass destruction, but on the other, it is a great monster flick.  Take it for what you will.  As far as I am concerned, I tend to forget the political message and just enjoy watching Godzilla stomp some miniature landscape into the ground.