Friday, January 6, 2012

Notes on Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster, Last Days of Planet Earth

Your humble blogmeister poses with director Yoshimitsu Banno on January 3, 2012, in Tokyo.

Over on a horror-related message board, tokusatsu fans were discussing Yoshimitsu Banno's role as screenwriter and assistant director on Toho's 1974 disaster epic The Last Days of Planet Earth (a.k.a. Prophecies of Nostradamus).

On my most recent trip to Tokyo, I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Banno over drinks. We discussed a variety of topics, and I made sure to ask him about his involvement in the ever-controversial Last Days.

Mr. Banno, to this day, remains very active in the movie business.

I was particularly impressed with the information Mr. Banno gave me about Last Days (as well as Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster, his best-known work by far). I posted the following on the board, but I felt I should also share Mr. Banno's memories with you, my loyal readers:

He told me he wrote the screenplay for Last Days of Planet Earth over the course of about 10 days in a Shibuya hotel, with an assist from Toshio Masuda (though Masuda wasn't present the whole time). He mentioned the Ben Goto book as a basis for the screenplay but not (for what it's worth) The Last War. Mr. Banno doesn't remember what scenes he directed except for (as mentioned above) the scenes in New Guinea.

As an aside, he also said that he wrote the script for Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster in about one week with Takeshi Kimura in a cheap hotel in Nagano prefecture. This was, of course, after Kimura turned in a poor first draft that Mr. Banno rejected. (Kimura apparently never gave his all to novice directors.)

One more thing. Mr. Banno cast Hiroyuki Kawase in Smog Monster after auditioning about 50 or 60 child actors. He had nothing but praise for Kawase's acting ability, and he even said that Kawase was the best actor in the movie when it came to dubbing the lines for scenes shot on location.
More information on Mr. Banno will be posted on this blog in the coming days. Stay tuned!

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