Newspaper reporter Ichi Sakai (Akira Takarada) is at the scene of devastation on the coast, accompanied by his rookie photographer Yoka (Yuriko Hoshi) who continually exasperates him with her insistence on getting the most artistically framed shots. The cause of the destruction was a cylone the previous night that has destroyed a local fun park, but Yoka notices a brightly coloured object amongst the debris and takes a picture. Initially angry that she is wasting film, Sakai is soon intrigued, but their attention is distracted by a huge object floating towards land - it looks like an egg...
That's because it is an egg, a yellow and blue one that the cyclone has washed up on the shore. Mothra, or Mosura as she was originally known, was one of the most charming of the first cycle of Japanese monster movies, but perhaps not the most obvious choice to be brought back to fight Toho studios' most famous monster Godzilla (or Gojira). However, sometimes an unlikely idea can make for the most stimulating of movies, and Mothra vs Godzilla turned out to be one of the best in the series, if not the best ever Japanese monster mash.
It was certainly a big hit in its native country, and probably was the reason so many of these films followed, but none of the successors were quite like this one. Many of the elements of Mothra are here, most appealingly the tiny twins who speak for the giant moth (that looks more like a butterfly), played once more by Emi Ito and Yûmi Ito, two real life pop performers known as The Peanuts. Unsurprisingly, they sing as well, and they turn up at the offices of the businessmen who are planning to build a tourist attraction around the giant egg.
The twins want the egg returned to their island (how they would get the object back is never explained) and have brought Mothra with them, although she keeps a low profile (somehow!). The avaricious businessmen are having none of this, and after trying to capture the twins (and failing) they are even more impressed that this will be a moneyspinner for them. There's a healthy streak of anti-capitalism running through the film that shows how exploiting, erm, giant eggs is not good for the soul or for your bank balance in the long run.
In fact, Mothra vs Godzilla has a real sense of idealism in the face of a formidable world. Sakai, Yoka and scientist Professor Miura (Hiroshi Koizumi) team up for a diplomatic mission to the island of the huge insect after a certain Godzilla makes his presence felt on the mainland, looking for help in exchange for protection, and after some perusading they get it. This results in some highly entertaining (and utterly barmy) scenes of a giant butterfly fighting a giant lizard; if you're not sure how that would work out, then this is the film to see. There's a lavish look to the film, with cavernous sets and more than a hundred extras, and the anti-war message, while it might have seemed naive in this context, is actually touching and sincere. This was the last time in the original cycle where Godzilla would be the bad guy, and he certainly gave it his all in one of the best science fiction epics of the sixties. Music by Akira Ifukube.