14:00 - 11th April 2013, by NEO Staff

The Mysterians

A fantastic offering from the BFI, The Mysterians is the original Independence Day, an alarming tale of humanity's battle against alien invaders in the shadow of apocalyptic nuclear war anxieties.

In a small Japanese town beneath the comforting shade of Mt. Fuji, panic is spread by an unexplained forest fire that disrupts small-town festival life. A massive earthquake follows and authorities inform us that radioactivity has been detected. Enter the Mysterians, who have come to earth after destroying their own planet through internal nuclear war.

Dwelling in white cylindrical corridors and clad in '50s power-ranger suits, the humanoids explain that the havoc they wreaked upon earth was justified as "a slight sacrifice to avoid war". The implications to an already atomically familiar '50s Japanese audience are all to clear. The aliens' demands are very telling: a small piece of earth to call home, and horror of horrors "the right to marry earth women!" If land could be negotiated, then Japanese femininity certainly cannot. The threat to women and the tranquillity of Mt. Fuji are enough to muster human ingenuity and the ever-reliable kamikaze lone hero to fight back.

The Mysterians explores very real social anxieties connected to the devastating effects of the atomic age, but gives the threat a very clear motivation and origin. Not only are the dangerous capabilities of nuclear power apparent, but Japan is overrun by 'outsiders' determined to destroy it from the inside out.

If its sister project Godzilla can seem a little grey and stumbling at time, The Mysterians will immerse you in glorious technicolour. The first widescreen and colour production from the Toho studios, the movie boasts the Kaijo master, director Ishiro Honda, and a fantastic musical score by Akira Ifukabe which drags a possibly mediocre synopsis into the realm of cult classic. Despite its campy 50's feel, The Mysterians, in light of its historical context, is still very poignant; as the authorities state of the planetless aliens: "we must not repeat their error".

SCORE: 4/5
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