Friday, February 17, 2012

Forbidden Planet – A top notch 50s sci-fi production

By Steve D. Stones

Some fifty-six years into the future, Forbidden Planet is still regarded as a great classic of 1950s science fiction cinema. The film has influenced countless numbers of sci-fi TV and feature length films, such as the Star Trek and Lost In Space TV shows of the 1960s, and even George Lucas’ Star Wars films. It’s hard to envision the droids that populate Lucas’ Star Wars universe without first thinking of Robby The Robot from Forbidden Planet. The other great star of the film is the bizarre electronic tonality music by Louis and Bebe Barron.

In the year 2257, a group of space travelers is sent to a distant planet called Altair IV to search for survivors of a lost expedition. They have spent over three years traveling in space. The group led by actor Leslie Nielson is met by Professor Morbius, played by Walter Pidgeon and his daughter, played by Anne Francis. Morbius has created a technologically advanced civilization on Altair IV aided by previous inhabitants of the planet called The Krell.

When Nielson and his crew learn of Morbius’ technological advancements, they order the professor to return to earth with them so that future plans can be made to explore and learn from Altair IV. Morbius is of course not pleased with this decision, so he sends out his ID monster – a monster from his subconscious mind, to destroy Nielson and crew. This plot detail is borrowed from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

The special effects, costumes and interior design sets may be dated for its time, but Forbidden Planet still manages to entertain and enlighten audiences of today. The film is rated G, so it appeals to all audiences. Less than a year after Forbidden Planet was released in 1956, an inferior sci-fi film – Queen of Outer Space with Zsa Zsa Gabor, uses many of the same sets, costumes and props from Forbidden Planet. Happy viewing!!

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