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In the Japanese mining village of Kitamatsu, miners ares starting to disappear deep inside shaft number 8. Some of the men sent to investigate are killed but one who has managed to escape brings back a tale of a giant insect. Soon, the giant prehistoric insects are attacking the village. Not long after, something traveling faster than the speed of sound is found flying in the sky. It is Rodan, a giant flying prehistoric reptile that has come to life. It spreads terror throughout Japan and is seemingly invincible to any weapon they may throw at it. Written by
Ken Kuronuma, who wrote the original story for this film, was inspired by an incident in Kentucky in 1948 when Clapt. Thomas F. Mantell, a pilot for the Kentucky Air National Guard, died in a crash while pursuing what was thought to be a UFO. See more »
When Shigeru and Kashiwagi are in the helicopter searching for Rodan, Kashiwagi is wearing a tie and his head isn't bandaged, but when they go to see the planes bombard Rodan's lair Kashiwagi is no longer wearing a tie and the bandage mysteriously reappears. However, the scene of Kashiwagi and Shigeru in the helicopter was actually from later in the picture and was rearranged by the producers of the American version so that it would make it look as if they were starting the search. See more »
The first of the Toho "Dai Kaiju" series in colour and some of Eiji Tsuburaya's best special effects. Although shorn to a miserly 69 minutes of the original Japanese footage (plus nearly 4 minutes of actual H-Bomb test footage stuck to the beginning by the American distributors, The King Brothers) it is a fabulously made picture.
Coal miners discover gigantic insects, known as Meganurons in the original version, which attack the local village. As if that were not bad enough a monstrous flying reptile soon hatches from an egg which has also been unearthed. Rodan's appearance is a "good news/bad news" thing because he eats the giant insects, but he also causes more damage than they ever could have!
The King Brothers, who would also give us GORGO a few years later, saved money by simply repeating certain scenes and "flopping" the image on the screen so it would look (slightly) different. Rodan and its mate appear out of the same crater in the American version. In the original version the second Rodan appears with no explanation as the first one is destroying the city of Sasebo. The narration probably saved time and allowed them to use less of the Japanese footage but having seen the original version I prefer the visual aspects of it (the end sequence is just as poignant and memorable without any dialogue).
Lovers of dubbed movies will recognise the voices of Paul Frees and Marvin Miller doing almost every voice in the picture! Keye Luke, a former Number One Son in Charlie Chan movies, provides the voice of the hero and a teenaged George Takei (later Mr. Sulu on "Star Trek") can be heard also. Look carefully during the destruction of the city and you will notice one building, a camera company, is called "The Tsuburaya Company"!
In todays genres where every movie is over-laden with CGI people should pause long enough to watch this movie and see what could be done with miniatures, imagination, and heart. Eiji Tsuburaya really loved the genre and gave his best to every assignment but THIS will always be one of his best.
Oh and about the monsters name. It was originally RADON but a British toy company had a doll on the market with that name so when the movie went abroad they simply switched the vowels in the monster's name and Radon became Rodan.
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