Is it a flying battleship?! Born from a volcanic crater, the crimson monster bird Rodan tramples the Earth (空飛ぶ戦艦か！火口より生れ地球を蹂躪する紅蓮の怪鳥ラドン)
— Japanese tagline
Monster of monsters! Big as a skyscraper! When he moves, the whole earth quivers and quakes and an abyss of horror opens up! See these prehistoric beasts emerge from the bowels of the Earth after 200 million years to devastate mankind! Supersonic jets cannot catch him! Rockets cannot stop him! Armored tanks are helpless before him! Even guided missiles are powerless! See Rodan destroy a modern city, leveling it to the Earth with a killing airstream of his mighty wings! Nothing can stop him! Nothing escapes this monstrous beast of evil!
— Trailer for the 1957 U.S. release
Rodan (空の大怪獣 ラドン is a Sora no Daikaijū Radon, lit. Giant Monster of the Sky Rodan)1956 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 26, 1956, and to American theaters on August 6, 1957.
The first film to feature Toho's famous kaiju Rodan, the film begins with a series of savage murders taking place in the coal mines beneath Kitamatsu, Kyushu. The authorities soon learn the murders are the work of giant prehistoric dragonfly nymphs called Meganulon. A mission to exterminate the creatures causes engineer Shigeru Kawamura to become trapped in a huge underground cavern, where he witnesses the titanic pterosaur Rodan hatch from its egg and feed on the Meganulon surrounding it. When Rodan begins a supersonic campaign of destruction around the world, the JSDF scrambles to find countermeasures against the beast. But the situation becomes even more dire when a second Rodan appears and joins its mate in an assault on Fukuoka.
In the small mining village of Kitamatsu, on the outskirts of Kyushu, two miners have gone missing. The two men, Goro and Yoshizou, had brawled earlier that day, and no sooner had they entered the mine then the shaft had quickly flooded. Shigeru Kawamura, head of security at the mine, heads below to investigate. There, he and the miners make a gruesome discovery: Yoshizou's lacerated corpse. Above ground, a doctor examines Yoshizou, and discovers the cause of death to be a series of deep gashes caused by an abnormally sharp object. As some of the miners comfort Yoshizou's wailing wife, the others discuss the possibility of Goro's involvement in the death. The two had never been friends, and had physically fought that morning. Also, Goro was still missing, and could be on the run or still be hiding in the mine. Shigeru warns them not to speak of this until the police investigation begins. Outside, Shigeru meets with his fiance Kiyo, who is also Goro's sister. He comforts her, telling her that he is sure of Goro's innocence. Inside the mine, two miners and a policeman stand guard at the edge of the water, knowing if Goro tries to escape, he will surely come that way as it is the only exit. Suddenly, they hear a splash in the flooded mine, and venture into the water. As they wade deeper into the shaft, they get more and more nervous. All of a sudden, one of the miners begins to scream and then disappears under the water. As the men are tied together, it is not too long before the policeman is pulled under by something beneath the surface. The last miner quickly unties himself and flees. However, before he can escape, he is cornered and attacked by someone, or something. Soon after, his body, along with the bodies of the policeman and another miner, are brought up and examined. The doctor announces that they, too, were killed by a sharp object that simply sliced them apart.
Later that night, the wife of one of the murdered men runs to Kiyo's house and screams threats at her through the door, as she believes that her brother, Goro, is the killer. Shigeru soon arrives and comforts her, telling her that the officers that were killed were Goro's friends, and that he had no reason to kill them and that someone else, then, killed those men. As the two sit together, the answer to the question of who or what, murdered the men suddenly reveals itself: a gigantic creature, resembling a gigantic insect larva, enters Kiyo's home, and both Kiyo and Shigeru flee. The police enter the home, but the giant insect forces them to flee. When they regroup, they chase the creature to the top of a hill and open fire with their guns. The monster launches itself down the hillside and grabs two officers, clutching them in its pincers as it flees. It soon drops them and quickly escapes back into the mine. When the police and Shigeru reach the injured officers, they discover that their wounds match the wounds of the murdered policemen and Yoshizou. They have found the killer.
Soon after, Shigeru and a group of the metro-police head back into the mine to confront the insect monster and attempt to locate Goro, dead or alive. Unfortunately, as they enter the deepest part of the mine shaft, they discover the butchered body of Goro laying on the floor of the mine. As they approach, the giant insect emerges and chases the men back up the mine shaft. Taking action, Shigeru releases the mine cart, which rolls down the shaft and collides with the insect, crushing and killing it. Shigeru and the others then venture back into the shaft and remove Goro's body. They discover a large hole in the wall that opens up into a large cave. They realize that this is the hole through which the water and the giant insect emerged. As they peek through, they are noticed by not just one, but several more giant insects. However, before the monsters can attack, the ground begins to shake, and the mine begins to cave in. Another insect is killed as Shigeru is trapped in the cave, while the police flee when the mine starts to collapse.
The next day, the police investigate the recent happenings. Dr. Kashiwagi identifies the giant insect as a Meganulon, an ancient species of dragonfly larva that had lived on the Earth millions of years earlier. As the doctor reveals his findings, an earthquake suddenly strikes the area. Rumors begin to circulate that Mt. Aso, the volcano that eclipses Kitamatsu, might be on the verge of an eruption. When the police arrive at the base of the volcano to investigate the damage caused by the earthquake, they are shocked to discover a man wandering around the epicenter. When they reach him, they discover that it is Shigeru. However, he has received a blow to the head and has lost his memory. He is even unable to recognize Kiyo. The doctors are not optimistic about his chances for recovery, but nevertheless do their best to try to help him any way that they can.
Several miles away, in Kyushu, an air base receives an alert from one of their jets. The pilot has observed an unidentified flying object performing impossible maneuvers at supersonic speeds. He is ordered to pursue the object at distance, but as he follows it, the object suddenly changes course and turns around. The object then flies straight towards the jet and destroys it. Soon after, reports from all over the world come in about the UFO. The strange object is observed flying over China, the Philippines, and Okinawa, and rumors of a secret military weapon test begin to circulate. Back in Japan, a newly married couple disappear, as well as several heads of cattle around Mt. Aso. When the authorities develop the film from the newlyweds' camera, they discover a photograph of what appears to be a gigantic wing. They match the photo with a drawing of a Pteranodon, an ancient reptile thought to be extinct millions of years earlier. Although the evidence seems to point to the Pteranodon as the culprit, the theory is dismissed as being too far fetched.
Meanwhile, Shigeru's treatment is progressing slowly, but no one, especially not Kiyo, is giving up. One day, as Shigeru sits silently in his hospital room, Kiyo shows him the eggs that her pet birds have lain. As one of the eggs hatches, a terrible memory returns to Shigeru:
Deep within the mine, Shigeru awoke after the cave in. Suddenly, he realized to his horror that he was surrounded by hundreds of Meganulon. The creatures crawled all around the cave, having survived millions of years underground. Shigeru then looked up and was shocked to see what appeared to be a giant egg sitting right in the middle of the cave. Suddenly, the egg began to stir, and then, all of a sudden, it hatched. From out of the fractured shell emerged a gigantic, winged creature with a sharp beak and a head like a bird of prey. Shigeru watched in horror as the enormous hatchling bent over and began to eat the Meganulon. The monstrous insects that had terrorized the town and had killed his friends were now nothing more than a snack to this new creature. With all of the Meganulon gone, the giant monster spread its wings and roared...
Shigeru suddenly awakens, his memory restored. As he recovers from seeing the horrifying vision, Kiyo weeps with joy.
Shigeru confirms that the creature he saw did indeed resemble a pteranodon, and that it had eaten all of the Meganulon. He and a group of police and scientists once again descend into the mine and enter the cave where the egg had been. They are able to recover a fragment of the shell before a rock slide forces them to flee back to the surface. In the lab, Dr. Kashiwagi is able to determine the size of the egg and its age: 200 million years old. After amassing the evidence, Kashiwagi calls a meeting with members of the town, along with members of the JSDF (Japanese Self-Defense Force) to communicate his findings. He tells the men that the UFO seen flying all across the world at supersonic speeds is a gigantic pterosaur he has dubbed Rodan. The 50 meter tall monster is capable of flying at extremely fast speeds, which create a sonic boom that more than likely led to the destruction of the jet that had first observed Rodan. Kashiwagi still has no explanation as to how the creature could have traversed the globe so quickly, and why reports of sightings occurred in multiple, distant countries at the same time. As to how Rodan could have resurfaced after millions of years is also a mystery, but Kashiwagi theorizes that nuclear bomb testing, which loosened the Earth and opened cavities to long buried crevices and caves, might be the culprit. However, Kashiwagi admits that this is only a guess.
Soon after, Rodan emerges from the ground near Mt. Aso, near where the beast had hatched. The creature takes flight and begins to head for Kyushu, with a squadron of the JSDF hot on his tail. They pursue Rodan over the city of Sasebo, and eventually succeed in forcing him into the river. The flying reptile soon emerges and destroys the Saikai Bridge, but his flight speed has been cut by half. Rodan flies over the buildings at Fukuoka, and the sonic wave created in its wake literally tear the structures apart. The flying monster lands in the city and flaps its wings, and the entire city is literally pulled down by its own weight. Fires spread, and the JSDF attempt in vain to fight the creature off. The men, and the machines, are simply blown away. Just when it seems things can't get worse, the JSDF reports that another Rodan has been spotted heading towards the city. With the mystery of the spread out sightings now revealed, the second Rodan to flies over and rips apart the buildings. After leveling the city and leaving the remaining buildings in flames, the monsters fly away to ravage the nearby Yahata, leaving thousands dead in their attacks.
The JSDF formulate a plan to attack the Rodans. After ascertaining their location at their old nest at the base of Mt. Aso, the military plan to shell the volcano and trigger an eruption that will trap the monsters under the lava and rock. However, Kitamatsu will be completely destroyed in the attack, and the town is forced to evacuate. The army prepares for the attack. Just moments before the strike is to begin, Shigeru looks out the window to see Kiyo climbing up the hill. He runs out to meet her, and she tells him that she has come to be with him. Rather than evacuate, she has risked her life to face the danger with the man she loves. The two leave the area and return to safety, and the military begins its attack. They fire shells and launch rockets at the mountain, and soon the volcano begins to spew smoke and lava into the sky. One of the Rodans emerges, but is soon overcome by the fumes. As the second Rodan arrives on the scene, the first looses altitude and finally falls into the stream of lava flowing down the side of the volcano. The ancient reptile begins to scream in pain as it burns alive in the lava. The military, Dr. Kashiwagi, Shigeru and Kiyo watch from a safe distance as the still flying Rodan watches as its companion dies in agony. Suddenly, the second Rodan descends and lands with the first in the lava, and it to begins to burn. Rather then live on alone, the creature will die with its companion. Whether they be siblings or mates, the two Rodans lie dying together in the flowing lava. Kiyo buries her head in Shigeru's shoulder, and both Kashiwagi and Shigeru watch solemnly as the two monsters, each unwilling to live without the other, appear to die together under the erupting volcano.
- Main article: Rodan (film)/Credits#Japanese.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Takeshi Kimura, Ken Kuronuma, and Takeo Murata
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Music by Akira Ifukube
- Cinematography by Isamu Ashida
- Edited by Koichi Iwashita
- Production design by Tatsuo Kita
- Assistant directing by Jun Fukuda
- Special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, Akira Watanabe, Masao Shirota, Hiroshi Mukoyama, Yasuaki Sakamoto
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Kenji Sahara as Shigeru Kawamura, mine engineer
- Yumi Shirakawa as Kiyo
- Akihiko Hirata as Dr. Kyuichiro Kashiwagi, paleontologist
- Akio Kobori as Nishimura, police inspector
- Yoshibumi Tajima as Izeki, journalist
- Minosuke Yamada as Osaki, mine director
- Ren Imaizumi as Sunagawa, seismologist
- Fuyuki Murakami as Prof. Minami, physicist
- Koji Uno as Journalist
- Akio Kusama as Suda, chief engineer
- Fumindo Matsuo as Hayama
- Mitsuo Matsumoto as Professor Isokawa
- Kiyoshi Takagi as Minakami
- Rinsaku Ogata as Goro
- Jiro Suzukawa as Yoshizo
- Katao Kawasaki as Tsunesan
- Kanta Kisaragi as Suteyan
- Ichiro Nakatani as Senkichi
- Seiji Sakakida as Tahei
- Hideo Mihara as Air Self-Defense Force Commander
- Yoshio Katsube as Self-Defense Force signaler
- Mitsuo Tsuda as Takeuchi
- Ichiro Chiba as Chief constable
- Jiro Kumagai as Tashiro
- Saeko Kuroiwa as Nurse
- Yasuko Nakada as Female Honeymooner
- Kiyoharu Onaka as Male Honeymooner
- Kiyomi Ichinoya as Otami
- Shoichi Hirose as Fighter Pilot, Meganulon
- Haruo Nakajima as Rodan and Meganulon
- Katsumi Tezuka as Rodan and Meganulon
- Tokio Okawa as Meganulon
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Main article: Rodan (film)/Gallery.
- Main article: Rodan (Soundtrack).
- Giant Monster of the Sky Rodan (Literal Japanese title)
- Mach Monster Rodan (マッハ怪獣ラドン Mahha Kaijū Radon, Japanese 8mm title)
- Rodan! The Flying Monster! (U.S. Poster title)
- Rodan: Bird of Death (Rodan: Ptak Smierci; Poland)
- Rodan!... The Space Monster (Rodan!... O Monstro do Espaço; Brazil)
- Flying Monster Vulture (飛天怪鷲 Fēitiān Guàijiù; Taiwan)
- Bloodthirsty Hawk (Taiwanese English title)
- Japan - December 26, 1956 [view poster]
- United States - August 6, 1957 [view poster]
- Italy - August 6, 1958 [view poster]; 1968
- Sweden - May 19, 1958
- Spain - 30 June 1958
- West Germany - September 26, 1958 [view poster]
- Argentina - October 22, 1958
- England - 1958
- Australia - February 5, 1959
- Norway - July 30, 1959
- Colombia - 1959
- Belgium - 1959
- Denmark - November 9, 1960
- Mexico - December 13, 1962
- Poland - 1967
- Thailand - 1975 (re-release)
Released by the Distributors Corporation of America after taking over distribution from RKO Radio Pictures (who were still granted European distribution), Rodan was successful in its first theatrical run in the United States. It was the first Japanese movie to receive a successful general release on the West Coast. It was given the biggest TV advertising campaign given to a film at the time on New York's NBC flagship station WRCA-TV. 10-, 20- and 60-second commercials were shown on the station for a week before the film's opening. It grossed an estimated $450,000 to $500,000 during its opening weekend at 79 theaters in the New York City metropolitan area. Multiple distributors, including RKO, announced that Rodan performed better than any of their previous science-fiction films. The English dub was recorded at a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios soundstage over the course of three days. Three men and one woman voiced all the parts, including George Takei, better known as Lt. Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series, and prolific Chinese-American actor Keye Luke. It was Takei's first film role. In his 1994 autobiography To the Stars, he describes the dubbing process in detail:
"We were each assigned eight or nine different characters to do. With oversized earphones that made us look like science fiction characters ourselves, we stared up at a gigantic screen on a wall across which passed silent images: the prehistoric monstrosity, Rodan, soundlessly swooping down on panicked crowds, fleeing noiselessly; close-ups of bug-eyed faces in mute, open-mouthed terror; shots of sober-faced officials gravely moving their wordless lips. We listened for three clicks in our earphones, which were coordinated with a flickery line that danced across the screen. The third click sounded just as the flickery line reached the right side of the screen, and that was our cue to speak the line—when the lips started moving or the chest heaved for the gasp. The sounds we uttered had to match the movement on the screen precisely, or else the lips would continue moving silently or our dialogue would persist over a closed-mouth face."
The English version overseen by the King Brothers is a complete overhaul with innumerable editorial and creative differences. It runs 10 minutes shorter than its Japanese counterpart. The story is now presented as an account told from the perspective of its protagonist, Shigeru, much in the same vein as the role of the character Steve Martin in the earlier Americanized Toho film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. Additions include unused Toho special effects footage and a prologue made up of American nuclear test footage to link the monsters' emergence with the Atomic Age more transparently.
In 2002, Classic Media released the American version of Rodan to DVD for the first time. Later, in 2008, Classic Media released the original Japanese version of the film along with the American edit, packaged with The War of the Gargantuas
Classic Media DVD (2002)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (5.1 Surround and 2.0 Mono)
- Special Features: Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee trailer
- Notes: Out of print.
Classic Media DVD (2008)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Mono)
- Special Features: Bringing Godzilla Down to Size documentary (69 minutes)
- Notes: Packaged with The War of the Gargantuas. Out of print.
- Many promotional stills and posters for the film depicted a Rodan that looked radically different from the one in the actual movie. Rather than the appearance of a slightly larger, more upright version of the traditional Pteranodon, this version bore more of a resemblance to the bird-like Azhdarchidae family.
- The giant insects featured in this film, the Meganulons, would later go on to appear in the 2000 film Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.
- In this film, Rodan is able to emit a concentrated jet of air from its mouth as a weapon, an ability that has not been seen since. The inclusion of this seemingly tangential ability was most likely meant to answer the popularity of Godzilla's radioactive heat ray.
- In the original Japanese version of the film, Rodan is called "Radon," a truncation of "Pteranodon." While it is commonly believed that the name was changed to "Rodan" for the international release due to a translation error, in reality it was deliberately changed to avoid confusion with the chemical element radon. The English name Rodan was eventually trademarked by Toho, making it the character's official English name, although he is still referred to as "Radon" in the English dub for the film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II.
- Rodan was Toho's first tokusatsu kaiju film filmed in color, though Toho's first color tokusatsu film, The Legend of the White Serpent, was released earlier in 1956.
This is a list of references for Rodan (film). These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: 
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