Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa

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Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film,
from Godzilla to Kurosawa
Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa
Author(s) Steve Ryfle, Ed Godziszewski
Publisher Wesleyan University Press
Publish date October 3, 2017
Pages 336
Genre Biographical, Cinematography, Special Effects
ISBN ISBN-10: 0819570877
ISBN-13: 978-0819570871
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Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa is a 2017 informational book by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski about Godzilla director Ishiro Honda.


Ishiro Honda was arguably the most internationally successful Japanese director of his generation, with an unmatched succession of science fiction films that were commercial hits worldwide. From the atomic allegory of Godzilla and the beguiling charms of Mothra to the tragic mystery of Matango and the disaster and spectacle of Rodan, The Mysterians, King Kong vs. Godzilla, and many others, Honda's films reflected postwar Japan's real-life anxieties and incorporated fantastical special effects, a formula that appealed to audiences around the globe and created a popular culture phenomenon that spans generations. Now, in the first full account of this long overlooked director's life and career, authors Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski shed new light on Honda's work and the experiences that shaped it―including his days as a reluctant Japanese soldier, witnessing the aftermath of Hiroshima, and his lifelong friendship with Akira Kurosawa. Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa features close analysis of Honda's films (including, for the first time, his rarely seen dramas, comedies, and war films) and draws on previously untapped documents and interviews to explore how creative, economic, and industrial factors impacted his career. Fans of Honda, Godzilla, and tokusatsu (special effects) film, and of Japanese film in general, will welcome this in-depth study of a highly influential director who occupies a uniquely important position in science fiction and fantasy cinema, as well as in world cinema. Together, the authors have provided audio commentary tracks and produced supplemental material for numerous home video releases, including Ishiro Honda's Godzilla for the British Film Institute. They co-produced the documentary feature Bringing Godzilla Down to Size (2008).

Exhaustive researchers, Ryfle and Godziszewski delve deeply into the entirety of Honda's sometimes harrowing life while defining his films within Japanese studio system and his later collaborations with Kurosawa. Filling a huge vacuum of needed scholarship, it's required reading for genre fans and serious students of Japanese cinema alike

— Stuart Galbraith IV, author of The Emperor and the Wolf


  • (vii) Foreword by Martin Scorsese
  • (ix) Acknowledgments
  • (xi) Introduction
  • Dreams and Nightmares: 1911-45
    • (p. 3) A Boy from the Mountains
    • (p. 6) Tokyo
    • (p. 11) Film School Lessons
    • (p. 14) A Reluctant Soldier
    • (p. 18) Forging Bonds
    • (p. 26) War
  • Awakenings: 1946-54
    • (p. 37) Starting Over
    • (p. 43) Allegiances and Alliances
    • (p. 46) The Documentaries
      • Ise-shima (1949), Story of a Co-op (1950)
    • (p. 52) Sea, Land, and Sky
      • The Blue Pearl (1951), The Skin of the South (1952)
      • The Man Who Came to Port (1952), Adolescence Part 2 (1953)
      • Eagle of the Pacific (1953), Farwell Rabaul (1954)
  • Science Fiction: 1954-65
    • (p. 83) No Laughing Matter
      • Godzilla (1954)
    • (p. 108) Obligations
      • Love Makeup (1955), Mother and Son (1955), Half Human (1955)
    • (p. 119) Youth Movement
      • Youth Tree (1956), Night School (1956), People of Tokyo, Goodbye (1956), Rodan (1956)
    • (p. 130) Lovers and Aliens
      • Good Luck to These Two (1957), A Teapicker's Song of Goodbye (1957)
      • A Rainbow Plays in My Heart
      • A Farewell to the Woman I Called my Sister (1957), The Mystrians (1957)
    • (p. 142) Brides, Blobs, and a Bomb
      • Song for a Bride (1958), The H-Man (1958), Varan the Unbelievable (1958)
    • (p. 152) Marriage, Money, and the Moon
      • An Echo Calls You (1959), Inao, Story of an Iron Arm (1959)
      • Seniors, Juniors, Co-workers (1959), Battle in Outer Space (1959)
    • (p. 164) Accidental Monsters
      • The Human Vapor (1960), Mothra (1961), A Man in Red (1961)
    • (p. 182) Going Global
      • Gorath (1962), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
    • (p. 196) Dangerous Waters
      • Matango (1963), Atragon (1963)
    • (p. 206) Monsters and Gangsters
      • Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), Dogora (1964)
      • Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster (1964)
  • Good-bye, Godzilla: 1965-75
    • (p. 221) East Meets West
      • Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
      • War of the Gargantuas (1966), Come Marry Me (1966)
    • (p. 238) Monster or Bust
      • King Kong Escapes (1967), Destroy all Monsters (1968), Latitude Zero (1969)
      • All Monsters Attack (1969), Space Amoeba (1970), Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
  • At Kurosawa's Side: 1976-93
    • (p. 275) Rhapsody in Autumn
  • (p. 299) Afterword by Ryuji Honda
  • (p. 301) Ishiro Honda Filmography
  • (p. 305) Notes
  • (p. 317) Index

External Links

Toho Kingdom interview with Steve Ryfle: Regarding Ishiro Honda


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