Film (1962; vt Gorath). Toho Studios. Directed by Inoshiro Honda. Written by Takeshi Kimura, based on a story by Jojiri Okami. Cast includes Akihiko Hirata, Ryō Ikebe, Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara, Yumi Shirakawa, Hiroshi Tachikawa and Jun Tazaki. 88 minutes, cut for US release to 83 minutes. Colour.
A small but massive Star, named Gorath, enters the Solar System and begins to disrupt planetary orbits. A Japanese Spaceship, the Hawk, is sent to investigate, but it is pulled in by Gorath's immense Gravity to a fiery death; before it is destroyed, however, the crew relays important data that helps Scientists on Earth track Gorath's path and determine that it is on a collision course with Earth, threatening a traditional Disaster. A second Japanese spaceship, the Eagle, is sent to learn whether Gorath can be destroyed: discovering that the rogue star's mass is steadily increasing as it sucks in other objects (including at a late stage our own Moon), crew members conclude that this cannot be done. The only alternative is an international effort to move the Earth out of Gorath's way by building and firing immense Rocket engines at the South Pole. Despite some setbacks due to such side-effects as earthquakes and tsunami, these engines succeed in moving the Earth just far enough away to avoid destruction.
Though he had resolved to make a film without any of the giant Monsters he was becoming famous for, director Honda was pressured by his company to add a monster to this film, which took the form of an enormous walrus called Magma which is released from Underground incarceration beneath the South Pole by earthquakes during the construction of the engines, causes some devastation of its own and is despatched by Ray weaponry; ironically, however, the scenes were deemed so incongruous that they were omitted from the film's American release. Given the stated dimensions and mass of the film's rogue star, it would seem to qualify as a white dwarf, though it is depicted as reddish, resembling a planet covered with molten lava. Unlike other wandering objects that have threatened to collide with Earth in sf films, Gorath is too massive to be destroyed, leading to the imaginative strategy of effectively turning the Earth into a huge spaceship by means of rocket engines blasting at the South Pole to push Earth away from the approaching star (see World Ships) – though the amount of energy required to achieve this goal would appear to exceed that of any engine humans might construct on short notice. Overall, it is not exactly a great film, but amidst scores of Japanese sf films featuring sinister Alien invaders or rampaging Monsters, Gorath stands out at least for its novelty. [GW/DRL]
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