@@Memories of Ishiro Honda Messages ‚Ö
I met Director Honda for the first time at "The 1st Amateur Association of Special Effects Conventionh in the summer of 1981.  Being given one of the seats in the back for staff, I walked out and welcomed Mr. Honda backstage in a room set up for the talk show segment speakers. There I had the dream experience of getting his autograph in the pamphlet along with that of fellow guest Akihiko Hirata.

I was so nervous I was hardly able to speak with him.  I watched the talk show from the audience and escorted him to the exit as he went home.  But in 1984, I had the opportunity to tag along with Hiroshi Takeuchi to do a long interview with him for the magazine gUchuusenh.  That was the second time I visited Mr. Hondafs home.  At that time, the Mrs. served us some moist red beans with our tea.  I dearly remember Mr. & Mrs. Honda laughing at us as we did not know how to exactly go about eating them.

I had visited their home a few more times since, some times for work and other times just as private visits with friends. I even had the opportunity to interview him in a lounge at the golf club behind their house at which Director Akira Kurosawa was also a regular member.

The questions asked on that particular day consisted mainly of topics on the two-part work gFrankensteinh and gKing Kong Escapesh.  He informed us that the costumes for Madame Piranha, which changed with each scene, were designed by Ms. Etsuko Yagyu (the costume designer in 1960fs Toho films who had a keen urban sense), as well as may other very interesting stories.  So I then asked him the following question, a hypothesis, which had often times been the topic of conversation amongst my peers:

gIn the film, Madame Piranhafs homeland is a country in South East Asia.  But didn't you actually have Japan in mind, a country aiming to bear nuclear arms, as a supposition instead?h

Gathering from the context of the film, this may be somewhat of a stretch.  However, this is an excellent opinion made by none other than by an SFX fanatic and the mechanical designer, Mr. Yutaka Izubuchi.  This goes right along the same line as with the opinion of SFX critic Mr. Noriaki Ikeda who said gIsnft Matango's laughter actually the crying sobs (of those who got transformed)? " The reason for the plan completely being abandoned was due to concerns of the scale of damage expanding too much upon Kongfs arrival in Tokyo has been brought up.

If it were today, the reference would naturally be to North Korea, or perhaps the writer Kaoru Mabuchi (aka Takeshi Kimura) was already conscious of a certain island country, or the rearmament of Japan.  But the directorfs answer to this question simply negated such political read into the matter. gThat theory is interesting, but we had written it as just a fictional country.  No matter how poor or small, a country can scare the entire world when they get their hands on atomic bombs.  This is the terrible and dreadful thing about nuclear weapons.h

This neutral thought of the director remained consistent, and in the following 10 years I had spent with him, never once did it blur nor shift.  There are some malicious rumors, especially on the internet.  One of which is that gIshiro Honda says that the theme of Godzilla is anti-atomic bombs only because he was influenced by the opinions of maniac fansh.  But as you can read in the old text in the gDirectorfs Essayh section on this very website, this was the directorfs pet theory throughout his lifetime.

One other thing; there are words of the director which made a very strong impact on me.  This occurred during an interview I had with him regarding gThe Human Vaporh on directing the last scene where a wreath of flowers falls over the dying Human Vapor as he emerges from the hall after a huge explosion. gDirector, this is obviously a wreath for the repose of soul of the Human Vapor, who faced this tragic end to life, right?!h  And as if to dodge this vigorous critical assumption, he said the following with a warm smile:  gNah, it is just nicer for films to have a pretty ending.h

One may think, gSo he used a flower wreath simply to hide the poor crumbling and burnt body of the Human Vapor?  No, this can not be!h  I, too, would think this.  However, this is the same Director Honda who used a bouquet of red flowers to symbolize the blood on the woman eaten by Gaira in gThe War of the Gargantuash.  Perhaps this seemed more natural and there really was no need for an excessive pondering, or trying to establish a theme.

Of course, there may have been a sense of awkwardness to such compliments.  However, as a person who continued to create monster films in the midst of constant prejudice and criticism such as gthese are just absurd childrenfs menu itemsh, Director Hondafs ultimate foundation was not of theme nor technique, but rather his sincerity, of a man facing his own work with true earnestness.  In this regard, in my mind Ishiro Honda is forever ga film director who stayed faithful to film and the audienceh.
July 11, 2007
Shinsuke Nakajima
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