Godzilla, King of the Monsters, has a varied history that includes the enormous radioactive lizard as, alternatingly, a friend and a foe to humanity. However, within the pantheon of giant, destructive monsters from Toho Studios, Mothra has consistently been the most benevolent. That is not to say that Mothra doesn’t have a rap sheet for destroying cities, but Mothra’s damage has typically been the byproduct of reacting to the aggressive behavior of human beings — especially when those human beings enslave the diminutive twin priestesses of Infant Island, with whom Mothra shares a symbiotic relationship. Earlier this month, Mill Creek Entertainment released the first Blu-ray edition of the original Mothra film from 1961. This SteelBook edition may not be chock full of extra features, but since the film constitutes a unique entry in the annals of formative monster movies, this edition is a must-have for any serious kaiju fan.
The story, itself, borrows heavily from King Kong. After a typhoon causes a boat to land on the supposedly uninhabited Infant Island, where the country of Rolisica (a fictional country based on the US) had been testing atomic weapons, the survivors discover that a primitive Polynesian tribe occupies the island. A joint scientific / business expedition ensues, and the twin, 12-inch-tall priestesses of the island are abducted for the purpose of exploitation — by a sinister Rolisican businessman. When the little ladies are forced into showbusiness, Mothra awakens. Mothra, of course, is an enormous moth-like creature, who homes in on the priestesses, and attempts to rescue them while destroying everything in its way.
The film is directed by Ishirô Honda, who directed and co-wrote the original Godzilla film as well as directing the majority of the original Japanese kaiju films. The film stars the Japanese pop star twin sisters, Yumi and Emi Itô (known as The Peanuts) in the roles of the priestesses; and Furankî Sakai as the bumbling but courageous reporter Senichiro ‘Sen-chan’ Fukuda. The film is generally loved by fans for the presence and performances of the twins just as much as it is for its monster mayhem and its not-too-subtle depiction of — and reasonably suitable caricature of — the USA facsimile, Rolisica.