Mothra vs. Godzilla (モスラ対ゴジラ?, lit. Godzilla vs. Mothra) is a Mosura tai Gojira1964 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho Company Ltd., the fourth installment in not only the Godzilla franchise as a whole, but also the Showa series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on April 29, 1964, and to American theaters on November 25, 1964.
Mothra vs. Godzilla was directed by Ishiro Honda, produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, and written by Shinichi Sekizawa. The film's plot revolves around Mothra's egg washing ashore, and Godzilla's arrival shortly after, as the latter combats both Mothra and the military.
A news reporter named Sakai and his photographer Junko take pictures of the wreckage caused by a typhoon. Later that day a giant egg is discovered on the shore. The local villagers salvage it and scientists come to study the egg.
While Sakai and Junko try to ask Professor Miura questions about the egg, an entrepreneur of Happy Enterprises by the name of Kumayama scurries the scientists off and explains that he bought the egg from the local villagers. Instead of letting scientists study the egg, Kumayama wants to make it into a large tourist attraction. Sakai, Junko, and Professor Miura are disgusted and believe that Kumayama has no right to keep the egg.
While the three are discussing the egg at a hotel, they discover Kumayama checking in. Sakai wonders aloud if somebody else may be working with Kumayama and investigates the matter. Kumayama walks into Mr. Torahata's room, the head of Happy Enterprises. As the two are discussing the billion-dollar tourist attraction, two tiny twin girls, known as the Shobijin, interrupt them. The Shobjin explain that they are from "Mothra Island" (known in later Godzilla movies as "Infant Island") and that the egg belongs to a monster named Mothra who lives there. Torahata and Kumayama ignore the girls' pleads and try to capture them.
The Shobjin escape the room and meet with Sakai, Junko, and Professor Miura outside the hotel. The girls beg them to bring the egg back too and the three promise to try as hard as they can to bring the egg back to Mothra Island. The girls explain that if the egg is not returned, a larva will hatch and will cause great destruction to its surroundings. Sakai tries to write editorials but "...public opinion is powerless against the law."
The girls soon leave and even though they could not get the egg back, they thanked Sakai, Junko, and Miura for their kindness. While the three are testing for radioactivity in an industrial area, Godzilla suddenly pops out of a beach and begins to attack the surrounding cities.
The editor of Sakai's newspaper believes that the military cannot do anything against Godzilla and discusses it with Sakai and Junko. Jiro, another reporter who loves to eat eggs, walks in and suggests that Mothra might be able to defeat Godzilla. Sakai and Junko are skeptical that the island would agree because atomic testing had destroyed most of their island, and they had failed to return the egg to them.
The two go to Infant Island anyway with Professor Miura. They are captured by the local villagers and are brought to the tribe’s chief. The three ask for assistance but, as expected, are turned down because of the atomic testing that destroyed their island, and Japan's failure to return the egg.
The Shobjin are heard singing and everyone walks towards them. Sakai, Junko, and Miura ask the Shojobin for Mothra's assistance but they are also turned town. Junko then pleads to all the villagers that not everyone from Japan should be blamed for what happened to their island. Godzilla is killing everyone and refusing their country assistance Sakai then adds that "we're all human" and that everyone is connected and must help each other. Mothra's screech is soon heard and the Shobjin ask everyone to follow them. They convince Mothra to help Japan but the monster is weak. After the monster will fight Godzilla it will have no power to return to the island.
The next day, Kumayama barges into Torahata's room and demands Torahata to give him his money back that Torahata had recently swindled from Kumayama. The two get into a fistfight and Kumayama knocks Torahata down. Kumayama crawls into Torahata's money cabinet and begins to steal the money from it. Torahata wakes up and sees Godzilla approaching the hotel. He then grabs a gun and kills Kumayama. Torahata tries to escape with his money but Godzilla destroys the hotel, crushing the greedy head of Happy Enterprises to death.
Godzilla walks towards the egg and tries to destroy it until Mothra shows up. The two fight a tough battle where Mothra seems to have the upper hand. While on the ground, Godzilla fires his atomic ray at Mothra and badly burns one of her wings. Mothra dies with her wing resting on top of the egg. Godzilla walks away. The Shobjin then explain to Sakai, Junko, and Miura that the egg can be hatched today. The tiny twins soon begin to sing.
Meanwhile, the military tries to fight Godzilla by electrocuting him with "artificial lighting" but fail. The Shobijin continue singing and the monster egg finally hatches with not one, but two Mothra larvae. The Mothra larvae follow Godzilla to Iwa Island and use cocoon spray on Godzilla to wrap the giant monster up in a cocoon. Godzilla struggles as he becomes fully wrapped up and plunges into the ocean. The Mothra larvae celebrate and return to their island.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Shinichi Sekizawa
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, Sanezumi Fujimoto
- Music by Akira Ifukube
- Stock music by Akira Ifukube
- Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
- Edited by Ryohei Fujii
- Production design by Takeo Kita, Akira Watanabe
- Assistant directing by Koji Kajita
- Special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya
- Assistant Director of Special Effects Teruyoshi Nakano
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Akira Takarada as News Reporter Ichiro Sakai
- Yuriko Hoshi as News Photographer Junko 'Yoka' Nakanishi
- Hiroshi Koizumi as Professor Miura
- Yu Fujiki as Reporter Jiro Nakamura
- Emi Ito and Yumi Ito as Shobijin
- Yoshifumi Tajima as Kumayama
- Kenji Sahara as Jiro Torahata
- Jun Tazaki as Editor Arota
- Kenzo Tabu as Politician
- Yoshio Kosugi as Infant Island Chief
- Akira Tani as Head Villager
- Susumu Fujita as Japanese SDF Officer
- Ikio Sawamura as Priest
- Ren Yamamoto as Sailor
- Katsumi Tezuka as Soldier
- Tadashi Okabe as Soldier
- Kozo Nomura as Soldier
- Koji Uno as Journalist
- Senkichi Omura as Villager
- Yutaka Sada as School Principal
- Miki Yashiro as School Teacher
- Godzilla Against Mothra (English Japanese title)
- Godzilla vs. The Thing (United States; England)
- Godzilla vs. Mothra (Revised U.S. title)
- Godzilla Against Mothra (Godzilla contra Mothra; Mexico)
- Mothra Against Godzilla (Mothra contre Godzilla; France; )
- Godzilla Against "The Thing" (Godzilla contre "La Chose"; French Belgium; Godzilla tegen "Het Ding"; Dutch Belgium)
- Godzilla and the Prehistoric Caterpillars (Godzilla und die Urweltraupen; Germany)
- Godzilla Against the Monsters (Godzilla contra los monstruos; Spain)
- Watang in the Fabulous Empire of Monsters (Watang nel favoloso impero dei monstri; Italy)
- Mothra Meets Godzilla (Mothra möter Godzilla; Sweden)
- Panic in Tokyo: Godzilla and Monster Mothra (Paniek in Tokyo Godzilla en het monster van Mothra; Netherlands)
- Godzilla Against the Holy Island (Godzilla Contra a Ilha Sagrada; Brazil)
- Japan - April 39, 1964; December 19, 1970 (re-release); March 15, 1980 (re-re-release)
- United State - November 25, 1964
- Portugal - October 1964
- Italy - 1964
- Sweden - 1964
- Mexico - November 23, 1966
- Spain - 1967
- Ireland July 21, 1967
- Brazil - 1968
- Belgium - 1971
- Germany - April 5, 1974
- France - January 25, 1995
American International Pictures originally released Mothra vs. Godzilla in the United States under the title Godzilla vs. The Thing in September of 1964, and it opened in New York City on November 25, 1964. Mothra's appearance was kept out of promotional material, which hinted that Godzilla's opponent would be a hideous tentacled creature and referred to it only as "the Thing." New York Times film critic Eugene Archer reacted to the film and its title: "Well, there are three things, not counting the movie. One has wings and looks like a big bee. The other two are hatched from the first Thing's egg, after quite a bit of worshipful kootch dancing from a pair of foot-tall native goddesses...".
In American video releases in the 1980s, the film was titled simply Godzilla vs. Mothra. However, Mothra is still repeatedly called "The Thing" in the dub, confusing many viewers who thought "The Thing" and "Mothra" were two separate monsters. Because of this, when TriStar released Godzilla vs. Mothra in the U.S., they re-titled it Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth so that it would not be confused with this film.
In the original April 29, 1964 Japanese release of Mothra vs. Godzilla, the film had 3,510,000 people attend. The first re-issue of the film, on December 19, 1970, had an attendance of 730,000. When the film was re-released again on March 15, 1980, it got 2,980,000 people attend and made ¥1,550,000,000, or $7,000,000. All releases put together made a gross of ¥2,330,000,000, or $10,000,000, and had a total attendance of 7,220,000.
Mothra vs. Godzilla is often considered by both fans and critics alike as being one of the best in the Showa series of Godzilla films.
Home media releases
|Simitar||May 6, 1998||All regions||English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
|2.35:1 aspect ratio|
89 minutes run time
|Studio Canal||2001||Region 2||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Classic Media||September 17, 2002||Region 1||English||Dolby
|1.33:1 aspect ratio|
89 minutes run time
|Classic Media||2006||Region 1||English
|2.35:1/1:78:1 aspect ratio|
88 minutes run time
Japanese and American versions
- This was the first film in the Godzilla franchise that utilized the recurring technique of implementing monsters from other films outside of the franchise, crossing them over with Godzilla lore.
- The upper lip on the Godzilla suit in this film has a slight wobble. This was originally an accident; in the filming of a scene where Godzilla smashes into the Nagoya Castle, Haruo Nakajima fell and the suit's head slammed into the pagoda, loosening the teeth. Special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya actually liked this effect and kept the suit like that for the rest of filming. By the next film, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, the suit's head had sustained so much damage that it had to be replaced.
- The scene where the Frontier Missile Cruisers were attacking Godzilla was featured in American International Pictures' version, Godzilla vs. The Thing. This was actually a deleted scene in the Japanese version and not made exclusively for AIP, contrary to legend. It was seen briefly in the original Japanese trailer. The reason for its deletion was that Japanese viewers, who were still sensitive after World War II, were supposedly offended by seeing American missiles hit Japanese ground.
- Mothra vs. Godzilla and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster are the only Godzilla films to be released in the same year.
- This is the first Godzilla film to introduce Mothra into the franchise.