Happy Anniversary, FORBIDDEN PLANET

releasedateIt’s been called a masterpiece. It’s been called a seminal title of Science Fiction films. It’s said to have defined a genre to come. Fifty six years ago today, audiences were thrilled as they were introduced to Robby the Robot and the world of Altaire 4, otherwise known as The FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956). It was truly a momentous achievement for a Science-Fiction film, as it was the first such film to be treated as an “A” Film, with the full machine of the studio’s power focused on it, even so much as garnering an A-list actor, in Walter Pidgeon as the scientist, Morbius. It became a benchmark, as it was light years ahead of other comparable space-operas of the day in it’s casting, the fact that it was a color film, benefiting from the still new Cinemascope format, but mostly from the aforementioned, unheard of studio backing. It would endure as the benchmark until the release of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968). The story of FORBIDDEN PLANET is surely what helped the studio’s decision to back it. It was adapted very liberally from Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST. Robby the Robot also became such a phenomenon that he was brought back a year later by MGM, for THE INVISIBLE BOY (1957) and has gone on to be an icon of Science-Fiction, as much as the other archetypes seen in the film, as the dashing space Captain (Leslie Nielsen), the damsel in distress (Anne Francis) and the tormented scientist who may (or may not) be the biggest threat of all (Pidgeon). Truly one of the best of all time, and one my personal favorites of any type of film.

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2 comments

  1. The element of the film I enjoy the most is the concept of the Krell. We are given hints to their physicality- by means of doorway shapes and instrument sizes- and we certainly are privy to seeing the manifestations of their technological accomplishments (the tour through the “Krell wonders” is still a miracle of cinema imagination), but no matter how advanced Morbius believes his intellect has become, even he admits he barely penetrates their mystery. I love the fact that “Forbidden Planet” acknowledges (which few SF films do as most portray aliens as humanoids with latex prosthetics) that alien civilizations might be just that- alien- and thus beyond our understanding. Great stuff.

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