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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Directed by Fred M. Wilcox, "Forbidden Planet" opens in the 23rd
century, with Commander John Adams (Leslie Nielsen) of the starship
C-57D landing on the planet Altair IV. Adams attempts to make contact
with a human colony that was established on the planet several decades
earlier. To Adams' surprise, this colony has perished. Only Dr. Edward
Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter Altaira (Anne Francis) seem
to have survived.
Late in "Forbidden Planet", it is revealed that Altair IV was once inhabited by a race of aliens known as the Krell. Though the Krell are now extinct, Altair IV still possesses vast, subterranean caverns packed with working Krell technology. Doctor Morbius becomes obsessed with this technology, determined to learn its secrets. Morbius rationalises these obsessions the alien machines may one day benefit humanity, he insists but Capain Adams begins to suspect that something more sinister is afoot.
"Forbidden Planet's" final act contains a shocking revelation. Aided by a machine capable of materialising conscious and unconscious desires, the Krell wiped themselves out. Using this same technology, Morbius destroyed all human colonists on Altair IV. He did this to preserve his monopoly on both Krell technology and his own daughter, a young woman who is adored by colonists, Adams' crew and whom Morbius himself has psycho-sexual longings for.
Interestingly, Morbius is unaware that he has been slaughtering people. So blind is Morbius, that Adams must spell things out for him: "The machine instantaneously projects solid matter to any point on the planet, for any purpose!" Adams explains. "But like you, the Krell forgot one deadly danger their own subconscious lust for hate and destruction! And so those mindless beasts of their subconscious had access to a machine that could never be shut down! The secret devil of every soul on the planet all set free at once to loot and maim! And take revenge, Morbius, and kill!"
Morbius, a man of science, has thus become warped by his own ego, his own unconscious, his own desire to play God. This kind of science bashing was typical of 1950s science fiction films, which tended to associate war and murder with technological advancements, scientists and an "insurmountable human nature", rather than politics, class and economics. Where "Forbidden" differs from these films is its thick Freudian subtext ("The ego is not the master of its own house," Freud once wrote, "and the mind is like an iceberg, with only one seventh of its bulk visible!"). In Wilcox's hands, man dare not risk exploring outer space unless he first confront the forbidden planets lurking between the ears.
Along with "The Thing", "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Invaders From Mars", "Forbidden Planet" remains one of the best science fiction films of the 1950s. Produced by MGM studios, it was also one of the first attempts at a big-budget, "serious" science fiction film, utilising glossy Deluxe Color, expansive CinemaScope and a script (loosely based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest") with high-brow pretensions. In keeping with producer Nicholas Nayfack's desire for cutting-edge spectacle, the film also utilised meticulous rotor-scoping by Walt Disney animators, and an innovative, entirely electronic film score. The first of its kind, "Forbidden Planet's" score predated the invention of music synthesisers by about eight years.
Modern audiences will no doubt scoff at "Forbidden Planet". But to those interested in early 20th century science fiction, the film offers many pleasures. Today it resembles a kind of meticulously constructed, retro artifact, filled with charming gadgets, robots, lasers, eye-popping colours, giant matte paintings and sets zanier than Frank Sinatra's living room. Sculpted by the finest craftsmen of its era, the film seems simultaneously modernist and unaware of its impending obsolescence; the world of tomorrow according to the world of yesterday.
Despite its age, "Forbidden Planet" still boasts a palpable sense of menace. The film contains one famous sequence in which a "Monsters of the Id" attacks our heroes, a sequence which scared the hell out of 1950s audiences, and which would influenced a number of subsequent film directors. This monster is handled cleverly throughout the picture, Wilcox hinting at its presence with foot prints, casts of its claws and the ripples of energy which momentarily illuminate its invisible body. Elsewhere the film contains cinema's best aliens outside "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Solaris", which Wilcox never shows, but hints at, alludes to and keeps resolutely alien.
In a 1970s interview, Gene Roddenberry would claim that "Forbidden Planet" didn't influence his "Star Trek" franchise. Most film historians, however, cite "Forbidden Planet" (along with the 1950 novel, "The Voyage of the Space Beagle") as a large influence on "Star Trek". Within Wilcox's films we thus find precursors to "Star Trek's" transporter devices, along with Roddenberry's fondness for abandoned outposts, mad scientists, saucer-shaped spaceships, crews modelled on the US navy, and lots of chauvinists, gratuitous flirting, short skirts and bosomy young women. In 1950s science fiction, the girl next door is never more than a light-year away.
8.5/10 - See "World on a Wire" (1973).
one of films who has, for each age, a different message. a real good one for the profound theme who remains more important than the technical solutions for a credible script. a film about knowledge and the huge responsibility about it. about survive in strange world and about price. the result - not a great movie but a wise one. because its subject transforms it in more than a Sci Fi movie but in useful tool for reflection about mankind way. different pieces as bones of a great story about the truth behind yourself. nice special effects and good acting. and, more important, the feeling after its end. because it could be a warning. or, only, precise description of limits for each heavy ambition.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As this 1956 science fiction classic opens the spaceship C-57D is
speeding through hyperspace towards the planet Altair IV to investigate
the fate of a previous mission that went there twenty years previously.
As they reach the planet they make contact with Dr Morbius who warns
them not to land
is he warning them of a danger, threatening them or
merely being unfriendly? Whatever the case Commander John Adams ignores
him and lands. Once down the ship is met by 'Robbie the Robot'; a
creation of Morbius. He takes the commander and two of his crew to meet
Morbius. We then learn that and his beautiful daughter Altaira are the
sole survivors of the original mission; strangely the others were
killed when they decided to leave the planet whereas Morbius and his
family were spared
his wife died later. Morbius also explains how the
original population; the Krell, were highly advanced and created
amazing machines before their extinction millennia ago. The crew are
somewhat smitten by Altaira which leads to some conflict although that
is quickly forgotten when they are attacked by a fearsome invisible
creature like that which killed those on the original mission.
This is rightly considered a classic; it is certainly one of the most important science fiction films; without it the entire genre may have been quite different. It was certainly ahead of its time; for the first time a film is set entirely in space or on another world. The plot, inspired by 'The Tempest' feels like it could have been taken from an episode of the original series of 'Star Trek' but that wouldn't be made for another decade or so.
Inevitably the special effects have dated but they are still okay and the 'monster' is genuinely scary especially when we learn its true nature. The cast do a solid job; Walter Pidgeon gives a nicely ambiguous performance as Morbius which leads us to wonder if he is to be trusted; Anne Francis is delightful as Altaira of course it helps that she looks great in a very short dress and Leslie Nielsen is fine as the Commander; long before he would become better known for his comic roles. If you are a fan of classic films or science fiction in general this is a must-see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
. . . perhaps a more fitting epitaph on FORBIDDEN PLANET would be GONE WITH THE ID. The "Krell" race may have been able to construct an 8,000 cubic mile self-sustaining machine with 7,800 sub-basements, but they never were exposed to the crackpot theories of controversial earthling "psychiatrist" Sigmund Freud. The latter's theory that each human brain contained its own Mini-Hitler (which he labeled as the "Id") proved so destructive to the human race that it resulted almost immediately in the emergence of a life-sized Hitler, as anyone versed in String Theory and quantum physics would have predicted. Josef Stalin, Idi Amin, Dick Cheney--it's been all downhill for humanity ever since. FORBIDDEN PLANET represents an extended PSA (Public Service Announcement or warning) on MGM's part that something even more deadly to American values than the Confederacy is stalking Civilization. Unfolding in documentary fashion, FORBIDDEN PLANET proves that the mere existence of Freud's folly is capable of destroying a planet much larger and more advanced than Earth's. Viewers be warned.
"Forbidden Planet" has a lot of the elements of corny '50s sci-fi
movies. It shows off its special effects in masturbatory fashion,
features a robot, loads the dialogue up with esoteric science babble
and portrays its one female character in misogynistic fashion (oh wait,
that's all '50s movies).
But "Forbidden Planet" doesn't simply trying to cash in on fans of "Flash Gordon" and "The Day the Earth Stood Still." Buried beneath it all is an ideal mystery plot with an intelligent payoff.
The film follows a space crew investigating the sudden silence on Altair IV. Upon landing which they were warned not to dothey discover only Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter Altaira (Anne Francis) have survived (and let's not forget Robby the Robot). The intrepid Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen), Doc (Warren Stevens) and the playboy Lt. Farman (Jack Kelly) investigate and find that Morbius is hiding something from them.
"Forbidden Planet" is a special effects showcase, sometimes to a fault as scenes are designed almost exclusively around the movie magic, but compare it with the excessive CGI carnage of today's blockbusters and it's not something of which you can be all that critical. Besides, the weapon design, costume design and set design are all cohesive and tasteful, and in some cases marvelous.
The plot does take a long time to get somewhere. A lot of the plot gets lost in writer Cyril Hume's aforementioned display of gadgetry and in the romantic subplot between Altaira and just about everyone else, but it ends up being worth the wait. The mystery at the heart of the film doesn't have an contemporary counterparts, and most films targeted at a genre audience like this one don't sneak in powerful human themes. No doubt Hume honored Irving Block and Allen Adler's "Twilight Zone"-esque story in doing so. In terms of acting, Pidgeon, playing Morbius, the man who keeps that secret, sells us with his passionate performance, especially at the end.
Like all great sci fi, "Forbidden Planet" also plays with the notion of what's unseen. Perhaps Ridley Scott took some notes from director Fred M. Wilcox when he made "Alien," because the film hints at a frightening beast that it never shows and manages to wield a lot of suspense doing so. And you know it's legit, because clearly special effects and even makeup were not convincing enough in the mid-'50s to deliver a powerful creature reveal. Even though what comes you know won't measure up to your imagination, Wilcox has your imagination working, and that's the key.
Also, the film's electronic soundtrack (eons ahead of its time) has to get a lot of credit (especially for the suspense part). You expect the usual cheesy suspense strings in '50s films, but "Forbidden Planet" retains an aura of mystery to this day I think in large part to a score that doesn't telegraphic any of the plot's moves.
Although long stretches can be disengaging, and everything surrounding Altaira is pretty stupid, "Forbidden Planet" has its place in the canon of influential science-fiction movies. When you consider that the film's producers probably just wanted to make "an outer space picture," the end result is more than we could ask for.
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Anne Francis got into show business quite early in life. She was born
Ann Marvak on September 16, 1930 in Ossining, New York (which is near
Sing Sing prison), the only child of Phillip Marvak, a
businessman/salesman, and the former Edith Francis. A natural little
beauty, she became a John Robert Powers model at age 6(!) and swiftly
moved into radio soap work and television in New York. By age 11, she
was making her stage debut on Broadway playing the child version of
Gertrude Lawrence in the star's 1941 hit vehicle "Lady in the Dark".
During this productive time, she attended New York's Professional
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer put the lovely, blue-eyed, wavy-blonde hopeful under contract during the post-war World War II years. While Anne appeared in a couple of obscure bobbysoxer bits, nothing much came of it. Frustrated at the standard cheesecake treatment she was receiving in Hollywood, the serious-minded actress trekked back to New York where she appeared to good notice on television's "Golden Age" drama and found some summer stock work on the sly ("My Sister Eileen").
Discovered and signed by 20th Century-Fox's Darryl F. Zanuck after playing a seductive, child-bearing juvenile delinquent in the low budget film So Young So Bad (1950), Anne soon starred in a number of promising ingénue roles, including Elopement (1951), Lydia Bailey (1952) and Dreamboat (1952) but she still could not seem to rise above the starlet typecast. At MGM, she found promising leading lady work in a few noteworthy 1950s classics: Bad Day at Black Rock (1955); Blackboard Jungle (1955); and the science fiction cult classic Forbidden Planet (1956). While co-starring with Hollywood's hunkiest best, including Paul Newman, Dale Robertson, Glenn Ford and Cornel Wilde, her roles still emphasized more her glam appeal than her acting capabilities. In the 1960s, Anne began refocusing strongly on the smaller screen, finding a comfortable niche on television series. She found a most appreciative audience in two classic The Twilight Zone (1959) episodes and then as a self-sufficient, Emma Peel-like detective in Aaron Spelling's short-lived cult series Honey West (1965), where she combined glamour and a sexy veneer with judo throws, karate chops and trendy fashions. The role earned her a Golden Globe Award and Emmy Award nomination.
I was 14 years old just going into Grade eight. One night for movie night my Dad brought a new movie one that he said he saw when he was 16. The movie was Forbidden Planet. As I sat and watched it. I was entranced and bewitched and put under a spell by Anne Francis . I fell In love with her so much that back then and still to this day I consider her to be the most beautiful woman in history. Helen of Troy had nothing on her. But further viewing over the next 35 years convinced me of one fact. without this movie,Science fiction movies would be a lot different. and I believe that the genre might not have survived. The seriousness and the realistic approach to it makes it seem believable. Sure there was comedy. but it was kept to a minimum. The Real gold of the movie to me always was Anne Francis. BUT the heart and the soul of the movie belongs to Walter Pidgeon. Without him this movie would have fallen apart. he carries his role with such authority. And Leslie Neilson is the perfect 50's Hero hair perfectly combed and his confidence never shaken and the belief that he is always in the right. Another reason for the film's timeless feel is the tonalities that play instead of music. It adds to the futuristic feel of the movie and helps it feel timeless. I can only imagine how it must have felt back in 1956 being a 14 year old boy and seeing this on the big screen for the first time. Talk about a life changing movie. It has inspired writers from around the world to write Sci-Fi like this to put their own spin on it. This movie is not only a prototype for all science fiction movies that came after it. It also gave us Robby The Robot. As well as the famous monster from the ID. This movie has so much going for it. That its impossible not to see its influence on modern Sci fi movies. Even George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry both claimed this movie as a major influence in their creations. To me this simply is the best science fiction has to offer.
If there was an "11" rating, this film would surely deserve it. This film succeeds on so many levels, that it's almost impossible to catalog them all. To say that it is "ahead of its time," would be a gross understatement. Every "perfect' movie, in my opinion, must contain elements that all 'perfect' movies must have from actors, to story, to concept and production. This landmark film has it all. From its handsome leading man, Leslie Nielson, whose screen presence would be seen in many decades of popular films to come, to the stalwart father figure, a superb Walter Pidgeon, and to a luminous Anne Francis, whose forthright, powerfully sexy lead character was also a foretaste of things to come (remember, this was only 1956!). And the supporting cast was equally excellent, with so many future stars contained in the lineup that it is equally as difficult to mention them all. Suffice it to say, television would be short at least a half dozen series leads without them. Then, the story. Shakespeare said it best, so why try to rewrite history... "the play's the thing." This script had so many memorable lines in it that it simply beggars the imagination. I can think of at least 90% of the sci fi dialogue written for the film still being used today. How about, "a simple blaster"? Or, "hyperspace"?? Star Wars wouldn't have been the same without it, ditto, Star Trek. When the space ship first enters the atmosphere of Altair, the entire crew undergoes a preparation to slow to "light speed" that predates current space technology by about a thousand years. Just listen to Nielson's explanation of the process. And what about, "Monsters from the Id"?? Who would even THINK of using an homage to Dr. Freud in in mid-fifties? The special effects, crude and impossibly low tech by today's standards, set a mood that still manages to excite my imagination every time I see it. Many film critics agree that 40% of a movie is the music, and once again this film sets an entirely new standard for science fiction films for years and decades to come, in its futuristic use of the totally electronic score featuring the fabulous tonalities of Louis and Bebe Barron. From my perspective, a truly great film never gets old in the rewatching, but only ignites the same wonder and fascination that it engendered in its day. In this way, this film succeeds on every conceivable level. It has become a part of my past, and my present. It's timeless.
Unquestionably one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time from a
decade full of legendary sci-fi films. A spaceship crew travels to the
planet Altair IV to investigate what happened to a research team. Upon
arriving, they find Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his
daughter Altaira (Anne Francis) are the only survivors left. Morbius
has been living quite well using the technology of the planet's extinct
race, the Krell. Despite Morbius' insistence that the crew leave, they
will not go. The crew's leader, Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen), wants
more answers about the fate of the other research team members and more
answers about the Krell. He also wants to spend more time with the
pretty Altaira, which papa Morbius is not happy about.
Beautiful-looking sci-fi film. That's the primary selling point of this classic. It just looks amazing with rich colors, wondrous sets, terrific props and special effects. Robbie the Robot! How could anybody not love Robbie? There are arguably some more thoughtful and intelligent sci-fi films of this era but none that come close to matching the visual spectacle of Forbidden Planet. It's just gorgeous. The cast is good, headed by vet Walter Pidgeon. Leslie Nielsen and Anne Francis handle themselves well. The rest of the cast, which has been compared to the principal crew of Star Trek, are all fine. Much is also made about this film being a sci-fi adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. There's certainly more to it than meets the eye, as is the case with all great sci-fi. This is a phenomenal movie, enjoyable from start to finish. It fills you with a sense of wonder that sadly is lacking from most of today's science fiction films. Definitely check it out. It's a classic in every way.
Quite simply a great film for it's time.
While the special effects may not be as good as Star Wars or any of a number of other more modern movies, you have to take it for what it is, and for the time it was made. Doing that you can't help but see how it is one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made.
I have seen it 3 times and every time lost count of how many concepts in this movie that I have seen replicated, in some way shape or form, in sci-fi movies made subsequently.
Truly the trend-setter for all sci-fi movies that have followed.
Well worth watching and a must see for anyone who calls themselves a sci-fi fan.
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