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Daikaijuu Baran - Varan the Unbelievable (Honda Ishirô 1958)


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Daikaijuu Baran
[aka Varan the Unbelievable]

大怪獣バラン

Genre: Kaijuu Monster Movie

review in one breath

In pursuit of a rare butterfly species, researchers encounter an enormous monster worshiped by local villagers in the remote mountains of Tohoku. But venturing too close in the name of science proves fatal and soon the military is involved in an attempt to ensure Tokyo remains safe. Directed by Honda Ishirô, the father of the Godzilla films, this is an early classic kaijuu tale pitting monstrous forces of nature against human technology and ingenuity.


intro

NOTE: This 1958 classic film by director Honda Ishirô is widely available in major US venues in a subtitled Region 1 DVD. HOWEVER, it is being presented both in title and graphics as the (widely derided) 1962 derivative entitled "Varan The Unbelievable" in which Honda collaborated with American director Jerry A. Baerwitz.

Thus this film is NOT the 1962 "Varan The Unbelievable" despite what every US venue suggests. (Do you find that "unbelievable"?)

Four years prior to this film director Honda radically altered the future of Japanese film with his introduction of Godzilla (Gojira / ゴジラ). As they say, the rest is history. Honda dedicated his life to the "kaijuu" (monster / 怪獣) genre which he can accurately be described as the originator of.

Thus "reviewing" a Honda film is very much like reviewing a film by Korusawa Akira. In both accounts there is simply no reason to recommend anything other than seeing such fundamental films by legendary directors.

Thus this is indeed worth watching if you are interested in the originators of Japan's cinematic uniqueness and contributions.

verdict

This 1958 (monochrome /BW) film represents director Honda's evolving depiction of the battle between human technology and the monstrous forces of Nature as embodied in massive kaijiuu form. It is an early japanese film utilizing large rubber-suited monsters (the DVD extras even contain a demo on how the suit was constructed) battling bungling contemporary sciences and represents a fundamental theme running throughout subsequent Japanese cinema.

This is simply a classic and formative film in Japanese cinema which admirers of Japanese film ought to watch.

Version reviewed: Region 1 DVD available via mainstream US venues.

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Directed by the father of Godzilla four years after the advent of the "kaijuu" genre. No blood but massive destruction to buildings and the military. Thankfully no sex lest we be forced to ponder the length and breadth of Baran's "monsterhood". sheesh. This is without doubt a cult classic for fans of formative Japanese film.

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