每日跟讀#627: Mothra: Yin to Godzilla’s Yang


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每日跟讀#627: Mothra: Yin to Godzilla’s Yang

Of all the legendary Japanese beasts in the new film “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” from Warner Bros., Mothra is perhaps the unlikeliest of terrors. There’s Godzilla, of course, a T. rex-like creature with atomic breath, and Rodan, a turbocharged pterodactyl. King Ghidorah, the villain of the piece, is an enormous dragon with batlike wings and three flame-throwing heads.


Mothra? At the beginning of the picture, she’s a newly hatched caterpillar.


What Mothra might lack in apparent fierceness, however, she more than makes up for in fans, at least in her native Japan. Since her first appearance in the Toho Studios film “Mothra” in 1961, the supersized moth has appeared in 16 movies, including the 1964 classic “Mothra vs. Godzilla,” the first cinematic meeting of the two titans.


Among the dozens of fearsome creatures in Toho’s 87-year history, Mothra is second only to Godzilla in appearances and starring roles.


“Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which debuts May 31, is surprisingly Mothra’s first appearance in an American film.


Mothra has always been a force for good, communicating with us puny humans through a telepathic link with two even punier beings, the foot-tall Shobijin, twin female fairies played in the original 1961 film by the Japanese pop duo the Peanuts.


Unlike the capricious Godzilla, who goes from stomping Japan to bits in one movie to protecting it in another, Mothra is always a heroine, saving Japan from reptilian hotheads like Godzilla and protecting the cave-dwelling residents of Infant Island, who worship her as a goddess.


Sometimes she’s an egg, sometimes she’s a caterpillar, her life cycle repeated over and over, as the old Mothra “dies” and a new one hatches. “There’s even this theme of Christian imagery associated with her,” William Tsutsui, author of “Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters,” said.


In his latest incarnation, Godzilla is about three times the size he was back in the 1950s, and the other monsters, it seems, have followed suit. How’s a moth, even a giant one, to compete?


To keep the fights fair, the filmmakers created a fiercer, more weaponized Mothra, borrowing design elements from more intimidating members of the insect family (praying mantises, wasps).


Even so, the director of the new film, Michael Dougherty, didn’t want to change the core elements that have made Mothra one of Toho’s most beloved monsters.


“She’s a very benevolent character, whereas all the other kaiju are obviously a bit more prone to destruction,” he added, using the Japanese term for these movie monsters. “She’s the yin to Godzilla’s yang.”


Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/341158/web/#2L-14939081L