Rodan / Rodan, The Flying Reptile (1957)

Rodan / Rodan, The Flying Reptile (1957)

“Captain, I believe that thing is our murderer!”

Shortly after an amnesiac engineer (Kenji Sahara) who was recently trapped in a mine remembers witnessing the birth of a prehistoric bird, two gigantic winged creatures known as Rodan are seen flying in the sky, wreaking havoc across Asia.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Japanese Films
  • Mutant Monsters

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “sci-fi fantasy about Japan being terrorized by two 100-ton flying reptiles that hatched deep in a coal mine” ranks “just below Godzilla, King of the Monsters on the Japanese best monster-movie list.” He notes that “early scenes in the mine are a little spooky:

… influenced perhaps by the scenes of giant ants in L.A. sewers in Them!” — but “about halfway through, it becomes a war film, with the army using tremendous firepower to battle the reptiles on land and over sea.”

He points out that this film was “directed by Inoshiro Honda, who collaborated with his Godzilla special-effects expert, Eiji Tsuburaya, to again create some extremely impressive scenes of destruction (a preoccupation of post-WWII Japanese SF directors).”

Peary mentions this film (listed at only 70 minutes in his review) as having “good dubbing for English-language distribution,” but I’ve been advised that watching these kaiju (Japanese monster) films in their original language is best, so the version I watched was 82 minutes and lacked several sequences called out in reviews of the dubbed version (including opening footage of a nuclear blast). Regardless, not enough ultimately happens in the storyline to make it of serious interest for anyone other than those who follow and love kaiju films; of course they’ll want to see it, but all-purpose film fanatics don’t need to seek out Rodan unless they’re curious.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine effects for the period

Must See?
No, though obviously fans of this genre will find it essential.


One thought on “Rodan / Rodan, The Flying Reptile (1957)

  1. Agreed; not must-see, though kaiju fans will want to see it.

    I’d agree that this is up there with ‘Godzilla’ though I might even put it above (not that it’s much of a contest, all told).

    ~ mainly because I probably prefer the way ‘Rodan’ plays out as a film. Its exposition (with the miners) is an engaging opening; the first appearances of the creatures are handled with an element of suspense; having a survivor fall into a bewildering amnesia is a helpful device. ​

    Apart from when the two Rodans move into full-attack mode, director Honda bestows the film with a naturalness among the players. So, generally, the atmosphere doesn’t seem cartoonish.

    I also like the ‘majesty’ of Rodan’s carpet-like wings (which may actually be made of carpeting).

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