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The War of the Gargantuas

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The War of the Gargantuas
War of the Gargantuas.jpg
Directed by Ishirō Honda
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Henry G. Saperstein (USA)
Reuben Bercovitch (USA)
Written by Ishirō Honda
Takeshi Kimura
Starring Russ Tamblyn
Kumi Mizuno
Kenji Sahara
Kipp Hamilton
Music by Akira Ifukube
Cinematography Hajime Koizumi
Editing by Ryohei Fujii
Frederic Knudtson (USA)
Distributed by Toho
Benedict Motion Picture Corp. (USA)
Release date(s) July 31, 1966 (Japan)
July 29, 1970 (USA)
Running time 87 minutes (Japanese version)
91 minutes (U.S. version)
Language Japanese
English

The War of the Gargantuas, released in Japan as Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda versus Gaira (フランケンシュタインの怪獣 サンダ対ガイラ Furankenshutain no Kaijū: Sanda tai Gaira?), is a 1966 Kaiju film, sequel to Frankenstein vs. Baragon.

It introduces two giant, hairy humanoids called Gargantuas, which spawned from the discarded cells of Frankenstein's monster from the previous film and are described as brothers. The Green Gargantua is violent and savage, preying upon human beings; as he lives in sea water, he is given the name Gaira (ガイラ?, from kai, "sea"). The Brown Gargantua had been raised in captivity, and is docile and gentle; because he resides in the Japan Alps, he is called Sanda (サンダ?, from san, "mountain"). The film follows the investigation and military engagements of these creatures until their climactic confrontation in Tokyo.

Several ambiguous references are made to Frankenstein vs. Baragon, such as the mention of a severed hand, but the only direct link between the films is the term "Frankenstein", which appears in the title and is used to refer to the Gargantuas ("Frankensteins") in the original Japanese dialogue. Like the previous film, which starred Nick Adams, War of the Gargantuas features a Hollywood actor (Russ Tamblyn) in the lead as a scientist, Kumi Mizuno as his colleague, and another Japanese scientist (previously Tadao Takashima, here Kenji Sahara). The similar casting has led to speculation that the film was intended to feature recurring characters. Eiji Tsuburaya helmed the special effects crew with monster suit actor Haruo Nakajima portraying the antagonistic Gaira. (Yū Sekida played Sanda.)

The film itself is rather vague as to where (if at all) The War of the Gargantuas falls in regard to the continuity of Toho's other kaiju films, or even if it should be considered a canonical part of the Godzilla series. In 2002's Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, however, specific reference to the Gargantuas is made, indicating that (in this variation on Godzilla continuity, in any case) The War of the Gargantuas is considered by Toho to be a legitimate part of the Godzilla universe.

PlotEdit

Contrary to popular belief, both the U.S. and Toho cuts of the film begin rather abruptly: with the green gargantua -Gaira- battling and defeating a Giant Octopus, as well as the Japanese fishing vessel that the sea beast was just latched upon. The monster devours most of the crew members and then proceeds to the Japanese mainland.

First arriving at an airport, the sea beast made its presence known to the mainland. After eating a helpless woman he snatched up, Gaira finally retreated as the sun pulled itself from the darkened clouds. Mulling over the destruction, the Japanese military went into action shortly after and set a trap for the beast. Waiting for the right time, the JSDF soldiers lured the creature deeper and deeper into the mainland. Electrified with over a million volts of power, the monster seemed to be dying, that is until his brother Sanda intervened.

Apparently the second offspring of the giant Frankenstein monster, Sanda was discovered as a child living in the forest by Doctor Paul Stewart. The creature was taken to a research laboratory where he quickly befriend one of the doctor's aids: Akemi. Though Sanda was affectionate toward his captors, he eventually escaped back to his mountain home, where he grew to enormous proportions. He would not reappear until a while later, when he rushes to the aide of his brother, Gaira who is under attack by the JSDF.

However, Sanda later discovers his brother does not share his compassion toward humanity, after catching him in the act of devouring some people. The brown giant attacks his brother in anger, driving him out of the forest. Gaira retreats straight to Tokyo, traveling through the dark waters of its harbor. Sanda follows his brother, and attempts to convince him to end his bloodthirsty ways. Gaira pays no heed and the two engage in battle destroying and leveling much of the city before dying in the volcanic aftermath.

Additional creditsEdit

  • Teruyoshi Nakano - Assistant Director of Special Effects
  • Yasuyuki Inoue - Special Effects Art Director
  • Fumio Nakadai - Director of Wireworks
  • Teisho Arikawa - Director of Special Effects Cinematography
  • Sokei Tomioka - Cameraman

ProductionEdit

The original ending of the film was to not only have Sanda and Gaira swallowed up by the new volcano, but the lava was to have spread to Tokyo where it was to destroy the city as well as the remaining cells of the monsters; cited in an interview with director Honda in Guy Tucker's Age of the Gods: A History of the Japanese Fantasy Film.

US producer Henry G. Saperstein had planned to make a sequel where either Sanda, Gaira or a similar, new creature were pitted against Godzilla. It was called Godzilla vs. the Gargantuas.

References and homagesEdit

Gargantuawar

Eiji Tsuburaya gives instructions to Yû Sekida (Sanda) and Haruo Nakajima (Gaira) during their fight scene.

Besides its cast and crew, The War of the Gargantuas makes several homages and vocal references to Frankenstein vs. Baragon, though none conclusively tie the two films together:

  • An alternate ending of Frankenstein vs. Baragon featured a battle between Frankenstein and the Giant Octopus; War of the Gargantuas begins with a battle between Gaira and the Giant Octopus.
  • The young Frankenstein loses a hand during his escape in Frankenstein vs. Baragon; in the English version of War of the Gargantuas, Dr. Stewart refers to a "desiccated" hand belonging to no "known creature".
  • Akemi flashes back to her experience with the young sanda in the laboratory, scenes reminiscent of those of Sueko with the young Frankenstein in Frankenstein vs. Baragon.
  • Frankenstein fled to the mountains after his escape in Frankenstein vs. Baragon; Sanda is discovered in the mountains in War of the Gargantuas.
  • The theatrical cut of Frankenstein vs. Baragon ends when a sudden earthquake envelops Frankenstein after his bout with Baragon; another natural disaster destroys the Gargantuas when their battle takes them to sea.
  • In Crank 2 (2009) there is a fight scene which is an homage to the final battle scene in The War of the Gargantuas - it takes place in a transformer plant and utilizes many of the cinematic cues from the Gargantuas film.
  • The Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "Battle of the Humungonauts" is a parody/homage to this film, going so far as to reference the song "The Words Get Stuck in my Throat" which appeared in the film.

English versionEdit

  • Several additional scenes were added
  • Several of Ifukube's music cues were removed or re-arranged, and Ifukube themes from other kaiju films were added. Deleted cues were replaced with stock music also used in the b-movie, Blood Waters of Dr. Z several years later. (The library track is called "Terror Hunt" by Phillip Green.)
  • Deleted: Vocal sounds made by the child Sanda in the flashback scene.
  • Dialogue was dubbed into English at Glen Glenn Sound. Russ Tamblyn re-recorded his dialogue as most of it had apparently been lost by the time of the US theatrical release. This worked out well, as the story was slightly changed and the Frankenstein monsters were now solely called "Gargantuas".
  • Added: A shot of chewed-up clothes hitting the tarmac in the scene where Gaira eats a woman at Haneda International Airport.

Toho also commissioned an international version from a Hong Kong studio. Author and kaiju-fan Steve Ryfle reportedly pushed for its inclusion on the recent Classic Media DVD release, though this didn't come to pass. In this version, Russ Tamblyn, who spoke English on the set of the film, is dubbed by another actor.

DVD releaseEdit

Classic Media

  • Released: September 9, 2008
  • Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1
  • Sound: Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Mono)
  • Region 1
  • Note: A double feature with Rodan. Features both Japanese and English versions of both films. Special Features: "Bringing Godzilla Down to Size" documentary (69 minutes).

ReferencesEdit

External links Edit

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