“WARNING FROM SPACE”— UFOs in Japan

“WARNING FROM SPACE”

UFOs in Japan

Amos Lassen

As Japan is rocked by mysterious sightings of UFOs over Tokyo as well as large one-eyed aliens attempting contact. Scientists come together to investigate this unexpected rise in extraterrestrial activity. What they do not know is that one of the aliens has already assumed human form and is about to deliver a very important message.

Written by Hideo Oguni and designed by avant-garde artist Taro Okamoto, the original Japanese version has been completely restored and gets its English language debut with this DVD and Blu ray release from MVD.

In Japan’s first color sci-fi film, a race of starfish aliens from another planet land on Earth to warn mankind of the dangers of nuclear testing, and how it will ultimately affect their planet. The film was originally released in 1956.Based on the novel by Nakajima Gentaro, “Warning from Space” is  the story of an alien race traveling to Earth to warn the inhabitants of an impending disaster. The creatures from the planet Paira look like upright starfish with single giant eyes in their centers. They sent one of their number down to Earth disguised as a human in order to make contact with a Japanese scientist. She tells of a large rogue planet headed quickly to Japan and the scientists work to develop a weapon that can save them before the Earth bursts into flames.

Keeping in mind when this film was made, the script is pretty much as by-the-numbers one could be at the time. We have checking every relevant sci-fi cliché with much of the first act spent with a scientist who’s unwilling to formulate a working hypothesis about the UFOs seen over Tokyo and the sightings of the aliens. We have sequences of starfish aliens scaring people and flying saucers scooting through airspace. The visual effects are fine for the time but dated for modern tastes yet they work well enough. It is no masterpiece, but it does have its interests.

The aliens found a rogue planet on a collision course with Earth, but since they stopped the use of nuclear weaponry centuries ago, they need the Earthmen to blow up the danger to both their planets (the loss of Earth would destroy their own orbit). The real nuclear powers ignore the warning, presumably because it comes from Japan, until they actually see the planet in the sky, but then find that regular nuclear weapons are not enough. One of the Japanese scientists, however, has found the formula for a super-powerful energy source and at the last minute a missile is equipped with a warhead made from it and saves the Earth.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the movie is its understated patriotism. It is Japanese scientists who lead the world in their discoveries and Japanese scientists who issue the warning that is initially ignored by the great powers. This is simply a statement that Japan, too, has its science and it can lead the world at times.

It is also interesting that the alien chooses to become a female nightclub entertainer. The alien says that this is because her form is attractive and will frighten no one, but much more remarkable is that the scientists listen to her in that shape. We have not seen in other mid-fifties movies of Japanese men paying the slightest attention to the opinions of women on public issues. The idea of listening to a night-club singer to learn how to save the world is almost as inconceivable as having to save the world from collision with a planet from another solar system. The earth woman model was probably chosen so the studio could include some color in her night club numbers that would be missing from all the other drab scientific scenes, and while I doubt that anyone intended this to be a pro-feminist statement. It does, however, stand out.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

  Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio

  Optional newly translated English subtitles

  Brand new commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV, author of Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo!

  First-ever HD transfer of the American release version of the film, including a newly restored English dub track

  Theatrical trailers

  Image galleries

  Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring an essay on artist Taro Okamoto by Japanese art historian Nick West, and an essay on the production of the American edit of the film by David Cairns

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