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Warning from Space

Entry updated 31 October 2022. Tagged: Film.

Japanese film (1956). Original title Uchūjin Tokyo ni Arawaru; vt Mysterious Satellite. Daiei Film. Directed by Koji Shima. Written by Hideo Oguni (based on a draft by Gentaro Nakajima). Cast includes Toyomi Karita and Isao Yamagata. 87 minutes. Colour.

After UFO reports from around the world, one is seen falling into Tokyo Bay, followed by sightings of Monsters; shortly after, a flying saucer leaves Earth and arrives at a Space Station. The Aliens, starfish-shaped with a giant eye at their centre, report they failed to deliver their message because the humans "scatter in fear, as if they had seen something monstrous". So they use their transmutation Technology, enabling one to return to Earth in the guise of popular singer Hikari Aozorato (Karita) (see Shapeshifters): on arrival she infiltrates a group of astronomers and Scientists investigating the UFO reports. One, Dr Eisuke Matsuda (Yamagata), has just finalized the formula for Element 101, Urium, intended as a Power Source; but the alien tears up the document, warning that Urium is powerful enough to blow up the Earth: "You Japanese who have experienced a nuclear disaster should understand." (see World War Two).

Alien Hikari then delivers her message: she is from Paira, a Counter-Earth. Her people have discovered that a rogue planet is on a collision course with Earth (see End of the World); the resulting debris would also destroy Paira. However, they believe if all our nuclear Weapons were fired at the rogue planet it would be diverted or destroyed (the Pairans are pacifists, using the much safer Element 102 for power, and so are without nuclear weapons). The World Council are sceptical, but change their mind when the rogue planet becomes visible, so fire their nuclear weapons ... which prove ineffective. The rogue planet approaches, heating Earth's atmosphere whilst its gravity causes tsunamis (see Disaster). Meanwhile, Matsuda is kidnapped by a gangster hired by nations who desire his formula. When all hope seems lost the Pairans reappear, rescue Matsuda, get his formula and quickly build a Urium bomb that destroys the rogue planet. Despite its closeness, Earth seems to avoid the debris and all ends happily, if a little abruptly. The US version has an extra minute tacked on, where we see Hikari's transformation sequence reversed, to show her returning to her alien form.

The Pairans have Invisibility and Teleportation; their incoherent language (see Linguistics) is translated with subtitles. Though they look silly, the Cliché of humanoid aliens is avoided; indeed, this film could be said to anticipate the bizarre aliens/monsters that would dominate Tokusatsu television series in years to come (see Kamen Rider; Super Sentai; Ultraman etc). Otherwise the special effects are reasonably good, with the space station's interior design being minimalist but effective. Though the science and plot are sieve-like the film succeeds in building up tension, particularly in the scenes where humanity awaits the end of the world. This was Japan's first colour sf film, and the first incorporating aliens and spaceships. [SP]


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