The Forbidden Planet
The Forbidden Planet During the post World War II era, in 1956, director Alfred M. Wilcox created this scince fiction masterpiece, which was based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, The Forbidden Planet. This exciting film stars Leslie Nielson, Walter Pidgeon, and Anne Francis. If you have read The Tempest, you know that a ship full of people crash onto a desolate island inhabiting a mage and his daughter and a deformed fish man.
In The Forbidden Planet, rather than a vessel crashing, it’s replaced with a space ship, commanded by Leslie Nielson, landing on a planet that inhabits a doctor and his daughter and his slave robot. In this movie, Leslie Nielson plays his role as Commander J. J. Adams. He receives orders to land on Planet Altair IV, which is 16 light years away from Earth, to discover the fate of an expedition sent 20 years earlier to establish a colony there. His cruiser is contacted by Dr. Morbius, who warns the crew to stay away, but they land anyway.
The planet has a plentiful amount of oxygen and it has a green sky with 2 moons. Once landed, they run into Robby the robot who takes the commander and 2 of his crew members to Morbius. This is where they meet his daughter Alta. To make a long story short, the commander falls in love with Alta and wants to rescue her from the planet. The doctor gets upset and his mind conjures a close to indestructible demon which kills many crew members. Morbius loses control of the being and so I don’t spoil the entire ending, you must watch the movie!
Many themes can be interpreted in this movie. The theme of innocence lost is explored as Altaria receives lessons in kissing from the handsome young Lt. Farman. This outrages Morbius who wants his daughter to always be untouched by the lusts and desires of humanity. The theme of love when Commander Adams, obviously jealous when he finds out Alta has been kissing the whole crew, falls in love with her and plans to take her from the planet. Morbius gave her a choice if she wants to leave, she can and she chose to leave which infuriates Morbius.
The comparison to The Tempest appears most illuminating in understanding another Forbidden Planet’s theme, which is that of a man harnessing a tool, whether magic or technology, responsibly. When man has great power, he must learn to control it and use it for good. For example, Hitler had the tool of manipulation, which led to the death of many people. Morbius’ mind summoned a chaotic being that killed a few crew members. Of course, the theme of leadership is present in this film. Commander J. J.
Adams leads his crew though their mission and successfully leads his surviving crew away from the planet, which obliterates at the end. The special effects during this time period were phenomenal. In the late 1950’s electronic music was becoming popular, especially in Hollywood. The music in this movie adds an eerie tone to the futuristic theme. Some of the special effects, which were revolutionary for its time, may look tacky for today’s standards but was indeed spectacular and breath-taking for the audience of its time.
The space ship traveling through space, the beast and its roars, the projectiles from their guns; they were all a great vision and an imaginative creation that helped create some masterpieces today, such as Star Trek and Star Wars. And of course, the most favorite character, Robby the robot, had many tricks up his sleeve. He was designed to perform many tasks such as to the ability to speak 187 languages, to brew bourbon whiskey, and to even have superhuman strength.
For the era this movie was made, the special effects were so good that A. Arnold Gillespie, Irving G. Ries, and Wesley C. Miller were nominated for an Academy Award. They were in charge of the effects. So fasten your seatbelts, get those space helmets clamped to your head and hold on tight because this movie will take you on a wonderful trip to outer space. The Forbidden Planet proved to be a benchmark in the history of science fiction, turning what was once considered B-movie material into a genre worthy of the utmost respect.
Creating a universe of mysterious planets and psychologically induced monsters, the film paved the way for the special effects extravaganzas that came afterward and influenced a string of filmmakers including George Lucas who created America’s most favorite science fiction series of all time, Star Wars. If you are a classic movie lover or a sci-fi fan, this movie is a must see. So make sure to put at the top of your list of movies that you need to see because Fred Wilcox did an amazing movie direction to impress his audience.