I interviewed Peter Brothers, author of the upcoming book, Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men – The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda, which details the filmography, history, and cinematic skill of Ishiro Honda, the creator of Godzilla. Check out the interview after the jump.
N: So, first off, can you describe the book, and why everyone should read it?
PB: First of all, let me thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk about my book, which is about the life and genre films of Ishiro Honda. My book is not only the first and ONLY one ever printed outside of Japan on this famous filmmaker, but it is also the first ever written on the Japanese monster movie genre available as an e-book.
It is an important book not because I wrote it but because people should know about the fantasy films from a wonderful director who was also a wonderful person. It’s time he and his films should be taken seriously.
N: What is your favorite Godzilla movie?
PB: Well it all started with the first one which I saw when I was seven years old (I am of course talking about the American version of Godzilla with Raymond Burr). That got me hooked and I’ve been enjoying the ride ever since.
N: Why do you think the giant monster movie genre never quite caught in in America, beyond importing?
PB: It was basically a gimmick to cash-in on what was then a popular craze, basically low-budget films stressing special effects tailored for the teenage drive-in crowd, whereas Honda’s original films were A-budget productions with top writers and actors made for an adult audience, at least during the early years from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s.
N: What is the best Godzilla monster?
PB: If you mean the best Godzilla I would have to say the original, if you mean other monsters I am fond of the first Rodan.
N: Have you read any other media adaptations of Godzilla? I’m partial to James Stokoe’s new comic, The Half-Century War, myself.
PB: Unfortunately I haven’t had time to catch-up on the latest Godzilla literature due to working full-time and writing other books, but I am glad the old boy is still popular and has a large following.
N: Besides his sizable impact on Godzilla, how else has Ishiro Honda influenced Japanese cinema?
PB: I think Godzilla not only created an entire new genre but may also have opened the door for American acceptance of Manga, Anime and Japanese pop culture. There are still moments in the more-recent Godzilla films that harken back to Honda, and I believe he also has influenced filmmakers such as Spielberg and Lucas. His films have been seen by more people around the world than any other Japanese director.
N: Do you think the 1998 American remake of Godzilla counts as a war crime?
PB: Well, I am happy to say I never saw the 1998 version since the creature posing as Godzilla was not Godzilla, it was like taking the Batman character and putting him in a Bozo the Clown outfit, but as for putting those responsible for it on trail, I’m all for it!
N: This might be a little late in the interview, but do you have a hard and fast opinion and whether Godzilla is an acceptable term for Gojira, or should the untranslated name be used?
PB: I use the Americanization, people often don’t pronounce the Japanese word properly; anyway people don’t call Mothra by its Japanese name ”Mosura.” Funny thing is, when people talk about Gojira they are usually referring to the original film.
N: If someone were interested in perusing Honda’s filmography besides Godzilla, were would they start?
PB: Sadly very few of Honda’s non-monster films (he did as many of those as he did monster movies) are available in video. If I could be granted one wish it would be the chance to see those films, but perhaps some day they will be made available if Toho sees there is enough interest; assuming the films still survive.
N: Is there anything else you’d like to plug that you’re working on?
PB: I have just finished publishing my second novel called “Terror In Tinseltown – The Sequel to Devil Bat Diary” (now available online) and am currently working on revising and expanding my Honda book due to publisher errors with typos and such in the original edition. I hope to have it ready by next Fall.
Thanks to Peter Brothers for the interview and you can buy his books, and other assorted merchandise at his website