Sunday, May 28, 2017

RODAN FLIES AGAIN! The Monster of the Sky Takes Wing in 35mm!

Sadao Iizuka (left) and Toshio Miike (right) discuss SFX, Toho-style. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Today, I attended a 35mm screening of the kaiju classic Rodan (1956). It was quite obviously the Japanese version, and I can't begin to remember the last time I watched the Japanese version. (I know the U.S. version like the back of my hand.) Based on this screening, I can't say I was missing very much after all these years. I still prefer the U.S. cut.

Sadao Iizuka. Photo by Brett Homenick.  

The guests on hand were optical effects creator Sadao Iizuka and Heisei-era production designer and art director Toshio Miike. Iizuka-san worked on the original Godzilla (1954) and many of the studio's kaiju movies through most of the 1960s. Miike-san's credits are varied, and he recently worked on the international hit Shin Godzilla (2016).

Toshio Miike. Photo by Brett Homenick.  

May 26 marked Miike-san's birthday, and in celebration of the recent event, a birthday cake was prepared for him. Having had a slice of the cake myself, I can confirm that it was delicious.

Toshio Miike holds his birthday cake while Sadao Iizuka poses with him for a picture. Photo by Brett Homenick.  

One of the many highlights was the stories that Iizuka-san shared from his Toho days. For example, he revealed that, as the person who designed and animated King Ghidorah's birth scene in Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), he was inspired by the special effects seen in the MGM classic Forbidden Planet (1956). Another anecdote involved Eiji Tsuburaya himself. According to Iizuka-san, Tsuburaya rarely went out drinking with his staff after work. However, Iizuka-san was fortunate to get invited one day to go out drinking with Tsuburaya with a small group. They went to a Japanese snack bar (which is much different from what the name would suggest to most Westerners), and the snack bar staff greeted Tsuburaya warmly with an affectionate, "Welcome, Tsubo-chan!" Tsuburaya's group was rather surprised to find that Tsuburaya was apparently a regular at such an establishment! (By the way, Tsuburaya was nicknamed Tsubo-chan, as opposed to Tsubu-chan, because it rolls off the tongue better.)

And that's a wrap! It goes without saying that this was another fantastic evening with many laughs to be had. Rodan flies again!

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