Sunday, September 17, 2006

Rare print of early Tsuburaya Eiji film discovered in Kyoto

A print of "Godzilla" and "Ultraman" SFX legend Tsuburaya Eiji's first film as a special effects director, thought to have been destroyed in the aftermath of WWII, has been uncovered in Kyoto.

"Kaigun Bakugekitai" (1940), sponsored by the Naval Ministry of Japan and produced by Toho, was thought to have been destroyed by its makers in fear of prosecution by the American occupation forces. Directed by Kimura Sotoji and starring Tezuka Katsumi, Fujita Susumu and Uno Jukichi, it depicts an aerial battle between naval bombers and enemy fighters over China using a mix of miniature aircraft and actual aerial footage shot by the navy.

Osaka University of Arts Professor Ota Yoneo discovered a degraded 16mm print last year at the house of a collector in Kyoto, and carried out a 35mm restoration at the university. The 50-minute shortened version of the original 78-minute film will be screened on October 25th at the Goethe-Institut Kyoto as part of the 5th Kyoto Film Festival. (sources: Sports Hochi & Asahi)

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