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Yôsei Gorasu

Yôsei Gorasu (1962) Movie Poster
Japan  •    •  88m  •    •  Directed by: Ishirô Honda.  •  Starring: Ryô Ikebe, Yumi Shirakawa, Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Hiroshi Tachikawa, Akihiko Hirata, Kenji Sahara, Jun Tazaki, Ken Uehara, Takashi Shimura, Seizaburô Kawazu, Kô Mishima, Sachio Sakai.  •  Music by: Kan Ishii.
       In 1980, a giant planetoid named Gorath is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth. Even though it is smaller than Earth, its mass is huge enough to crush the Earth and destroy it. A mission sent to observe Gorath is destroyed after all the orbiting ships are drawn into the planetoid. A later mission is sent to observe and the crew barely leaves before suffering the same fate. However Astronaut Tatsuo Kanai is left in a catatonic state due to his near death experience. The Earth's scientists then come up with a desperate plan to build giant rockets at the South Pole to move Earth out of Gorath's path before it is too late.


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Image from: Yôsei Gorasu (1962)
Image from: Yôsei Gorasu (1962)
Image from: Yôsei Gorasu (1962)
Image from: Yôsei Gorasu (1962)
Image from: Yôsei Gorasu (1962)
Image from: Yôsei Gorasu (1962)
Image from: Yôsei Gorasu (1962)
Image from: Yôsei Gorasu (1962)
Once again, Honda explores the theme of humankind forced to work together against an extraterrestrial adversary. Only this time we're not facing aliens, but something far more deadly, and utterly implacable: a runaway stellar remnant which for some unexplained reason the authorities name "Gorath". Composed of collapsed matter -- which gives it a mass and gravitational pull far out of proportion to its relatively small size -- even a near-miss (in cosmic terms) would render the Earth uninhabitable.

It can't be blown up, and there's no way to change its orbit. Obviously, there's nothing left to do but build a bunch of enormous hydrogen fusion rocket engines at the South Pole and move our planet out of its way. (If there's one thing you could never fault Honda for, it's a lack of imagination, even if the physics of the thing are completely impossible.)

This is definitely a more somber and slower-paced outing than those two earlier films. Instead of the almost non-stop skirmishing between the Earth forces and dastardly aliens which typified the previous films in the trilogy, the drama lies in humanity's desperate race against time, to save itself with the biggest, most complex feat of engineering ever attempted. So, despite its typically energetic Akira Ifukube score, this one naturally lacks some of the naive charm and relentless drive which distinguished the colorfully juvenile "The Mysterians" and "Battle in Outer Space".

What makes this film a standout in its own right, though, is that it contains what might just be the Tsuburaya team's most impressive miniature work ever. You must see this in letterbox, in the original Japanese version, to fully appreciate its scope and grandeur, specially the extended montage depicting the rocket motors' construction at the South Pole. (I believe Honda must have been heavily influenced here by the "remaking of Everytown" sequence in 1937's "Things to Come", even down to the musical theme Ifukube composed for it.)

Plus there are nicely executed spaceship and space station models and effects, not to mention some fairly imaginative visuals as Gorath careens through the solar system. (The original version comes with a bonus: the totally unnecessary -- to the plot, anyway -- giant prehistoric walrus.) The earthquake and tsunami sequence which takes place as Gorath makes its closest approach to Earth is, in fact, rather eerie to watch in the light of recent events.

Unfortunately, though, the tsunami -- along with a few seconds of recycled footage of a landslide from "The Mysterians" -- are about the only glimpses we're ever given of Gorath's devastating effects. So even with what must have been a substantially bigger budget than either of the two preceding films in the trilogy, the ending feels rushed, and a bit of a letdown.

Regardless of my nit-picking, "Gorath" is still well worth watching, a truly unique movie both for this director, and in its own apocalyptic genre.

Review by henri sauvage from the Internet Movie Database.


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