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Gorath (妖星ゴラス, Yōsei Gorasu, Ominous Star Gorath) is a Japanese science fiction film directed by Ishirō Honda. Based on an idea by Jojiro Okami, the film is a story of mankind's efforts to move Earth out of its orbit to prevent it from colliding with a runaway white dwarf star. The film was extensively edited for its American release.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ishirō Honda|
|Produced by||Tomoyuki Tanaka|
|Screenplay by||Takeshi Kimura|
|Based on||An idea|
by Jojiro Okami
|Music by||Kan Ishii|
|Edited by||Reiko Kaneko|
Early in 1979, Japan's most famed rocketship, the JX-1 Hawk, with its crew of 30, is launched from the Interstellar Exploration Agency’s rocket launch site at Mt. Fuji into space on a nine-month journey to investigate the planet Saturn.
After the journey, the crew is given a new mission directive from Earth. It was discovered that a small, runaway "planet" (which some scientists believed to be the solid mega-dense core of a collapsed star) had somehow run amok. It is given the name "Gorath" by the International Astronomical Union. Upon encountering Gorath and attempting to investigate its rapid movement in the Solar System, they discover that Gorath is smaller than Earth but with 6,000 times Earth's gravity. The JX-1 is caught in its gravity well and its crew loses their lives as the enormous gravity well of the approaching celestial body destroys the ship.
Back on Earth during the Christmas season, the transmitted data made its way back to Earth. A month later in 1980, astronomers and astrophysicists throughout the international community announce that the enormous celestial body will collide with the Earth in two years time.
At the United Nations, a gathering of Earth’s top scientists resolved this situation by pooling large amounts of technical advancements they made in the past two decades. After much debriefing, the scientific community unveils their plan to save the Earth. They call it the South Pole Operation. The South Pole Operation base is to be designed to house a large international team of engineers and scientists. The plan involves the construction of huge rocket thruster engines, 500 meters below the surface and in an area 600 kilometers in diameter, producing an atomic force equal to that of 6,600,000,000 megatons. When completed and activated, these mega-thrusters would move the Earth more than 400,000 kilometers out of its orbit in 100 days until it was safely out of range of the approaching Gorath and its devastating gravity, and then move the Earth back into its proper orbit once the danger had passed.
The U.N. then sends the remaining prototype sub-light spacecraft JX-2 Eagle into space to obtain further data on Gorath.
Construction on the massive South Pole base is put into action as ships and helicopters from many nations bring in building material. In addition, powerful mobile heat-generating devices known as atomic burrowers are quickly cobbled together to assist in creating the caverns in the icy terrain of Antarctica that will be needed to house the booster rockets.
Meanwhile, in deep space, the JX-2 Eagle succeeds in its mission. The data they acquired, including the disturbing fact that Gorath was continuously adding to its mass by absorbing more space debris in the path of its gravity well, is sent to the U.N. personnel on the space stations SSS-1, Terra, and Delta.
Back on Earth, the first preliminary test of the rocket thrusters is about to commence. Around the world, citizens watch live television broadcasts of the event. The thrusters are activated and the results are witnessed from orbiting space stations as the Earth is gently moving. The South Pole Operation is hailed as a success and the Earth is moving out of the way of Gorath's path.
Meanwhile, in space, with this news, the JX-2 Eagle is ordered to return to its base on Earth, along with the three space stations (all of which were moved to avoid having the multi-billion-dollar constructs being struck by Gorath when it approached the Earth).
Back on Earth, an unexpected threat is literally unearthed when the completed rocket boosters were tested. The backlash of incredible heat this created caused a gigantic, 30-meter-long walrus to emerge from its home deep below the frozen tundra (this creature was named 'Maguma' in Japanese press information about this incident; Maguma was evidently a hidden remnant of prehistoric creatures that survived into modern times).
Angered by the dramatic intrusion into his home, Maguma begins attacking the U.N. base. Acting to save the installation, a small VTOL craft that was used as fast cargo transport, but equipped with a powerful laser, is sent to stop the assault. The pilot is determined to stop the creature without killing him and initially uses the laser cannon to cause an avalanche that buries the beast. Maguma easily escapes, however, and continues his attack. This leaves the South Pole crew no other choice but to turn the craft's deadly laser beam on the creature, and the enormous animal is killed. Back in deep space, Gorath is continuing its destructive path, now absorbing the rings of Saturn. The JX-2 Eagle and its crew finally arrive back on Earth.
Sometime later, Gorath is close enough to the Earth to be seen by the naked eye and the atmosphere is reacting as clouds are drawn toward the rogue planet. Tides begin to rise and a state of emergency is declared. The Moon is pulled in by Gorath's gravity and is obliterated. Gorath's full effect upon the Earth is felt as Tokyo is flooded by a tsunami. At the Interstellar Exploration Agency launch site at Mt. Fuji, the JX-2 and the space station Terra are destroyed by an earthquake. The situation also becomes critical at the South Pole Operation base, as flooding waters enter the thruster area, extinguishing several fires.
After the critical moment passes, the full cooperation of every nation on the planet succeeds marvelously and Earth is moved out of Gorath's path, and then successfully returned into its normal orbit, thus saving the planet from destruction.
- Ryō Ikebe as Dr. Tazawa - Astrophysicist
- Yumi Shirakawa as Tomoko Sonoda
- Akira Kubo as Tatsuma Kanai - Cadet Astronaut
- Kumi Mizuno as Takiko Nomura
- Hiroshi Tachikawa as Wakabayashi - Pilot of Ōtori
- Akihiko Hirata as Endō - Captain of Ōtori
- Kenji Sahara as Saiki - Vice Captain of Ōtori
- Jun Tazaki as Raizō Sonoda - Tomoko's Father
- Ken Uehara as Dr. Kōno - Astrophysicist
- Takashi Shimura as Kensuke Sonoda - Paleontologist
- Seizaburō Kawazu as Tada - Minister of Finance
- Kō Mishima as Sanada - Engineer
- Sachio Sakai as Physician
- Takamaru Sasaki as Prime Minister Seki
- Kō Nishimura as Murata - Secretary of Space
- Fumio Sakashita as Hayao Sonoda - Tomoko's Brother
Gorath was released theatrically in Japan on 21 March 1962, where it was distributed by Toho. It was released in the United States as Gorath by Brenco Pictures through Allied Artists Pictures with an English-language dub on 15 May 1964. The film was double-billed in the United States with The Human Vapor.
In a contemporary review, ""Whit." of Variety declared it as "generally a first-class endeavour" noting that "particular credit goes to Eiji Tsuburaya for his special effects" and the acting by Ryō Ikebe was a highlight of the cast. Another review from "Whit." from the same issue of Variety found its double feature The Human Vapor the more interesting film plotwise.
- Galbraith IV, Stuart (1994). Japanese Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. McFarland. ISBN 0-89950-853-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Galbraith IV, Stuart (2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 1461673747. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
- Willis, Donald, ed. (1985). Variety's Complete Science Fiction Reviews. Garland. ISBN 0-8240-6263-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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