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On Viewing Forbidden Planet on Its 60th Anniversary
Posted by Ed Hudgins on 6/02, 10:42am

On Viewing Forbidden Planet on Its 60th Anniversary

By Edward Hudgins


June 2, 2016 -- Science fiction reflects our hopes and fears for the future and, at its best, it offers an elixir of inspiration. On viewing the 1956 film Forbidden Planet on its 60th anniversary, you can see in its intelligent story, special effects, design, sounds, and message why this classic that has stood the test of time.

Monsters and dystopias of ‘50s science fiction

Science fiction films in the 1950s often offered giant bugs, mutant monsters, and cheesy effects. Some featured visits to Earth by space aliens that were malicious (War of the Worlds), indifferent (It Came from Outer Space), or serious in their warnings that the Earth must abandon its warlike ways or be destroyed (The Day the Earth Stood Still).


Unlike those films or the many dystopian sagas that followed, Forbidden Planet is set in a peaceful 23nd century, during which “mankind began the conquest and colonization of deep space.”

Forbidden Planet: Tempest on another world

The story is roughly modeled on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which centers on a ship that is wrecked on an isolated island inhabited by the wizard Prospero and his beautiful daughter Miranda. Forbidden Planet opens on spaceship, United Planets Cruiser C-57D commanded by Captain J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen). It has been on a year-long voyage to discover the fate of settlers who had traveled two decades before to the isolated planet Altair 4. They have not been heard from since.


The ship lands. Adams and his officers meet Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon as a sci-fi Prospero) in his house that seems designed by an interstellar Frank Lloyd Wright. (I wanted that house!) Morbius explains that all the other settlers save his wife were killed within a year of their arrival by some invisible planetary force (Caliban?) that tore them limb from limb. Mrs. Morbius died of natural causes but not before giving birth to Altaira (Anne Francis as a mini-shirted Miranda), now a beautiful young woman.


Adams must jerry-rig a system to communicate with far-off Earth for orders concerning this unexpected situation. But soon he finds equipment sabotaged. Has the planetary force returned?

“Prepare your minds”

Morbius then reveals the mystery he has tried to solve for 20 years. The planet was inhabited by the Krell, a race that was a million years ahead of humans. But on the eve of some crowning technological achievement, one the Krell hoped would free them “from any dependence on physical instrumentality,” ... (Continue reading here.)

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