41 Hours of Terror: An Artifact from The Final War

When it comes to Toei’s 1960 end-of-the-world production World War III: 41 Hours of Terror (第三次世界大戦 四十一時間の恐怖), better known domestically as The Final War, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find that I’ve got little left to say. In the wake of the film’s recent arrival in stateside fan circles I researched and penned a number of articles on the subject, and to that end I simply have nothing more to add.

What I do have, however, is a rare piece of memorabilia from the film, gleaned some time ago at Japanese auction and thus far the only artifact from its release that I’ve been able to find. Shared here is the speed poster for The Final War, which would have been (and judging from its state, was) displayed to announce the production prior to its arrival at the cinema. As with many of its kind from the time period, the poster doubles as a press release, offering a synopsis, cast and crew information, and presumably the same sort of studio ad jargon used in the campaign and press books produced elsewhere. I couldn’t get a good image of the text, which is substantial and, given the modest dimensions of the poster, necessarily rendered in rather small type. The included ad art was far easier to photograph, and is included below the poster.

I just love these kinds of things, particularly when it’s so obvious that they’ve been used. There’s a delicious sense of history that comes part and parcel with all that wear and tear, a sense one just couldn’t get from a more pristine example of the same. This speed poster for The Final War is literally falling apart at the seems, with some significant separation (and discoloration, at least on the back) along its central fold, but is in pretty remarkable shape otherwise. The original color of the printing is very well preserved – those yellow title kanji are bold in person – and the imagery is crisper than my photos might imply. Adding to the “neat” factor of the thing are a handful of light pencil marks that have survived the ensuing fifty years, denoting what the theater manager must have deemed important points from the press release. Cool stuff.