|Directed by||Fred M. Wilcox|
|Produced by||Nicholas Nayfack|
|Screenplay by||Cyril Hume|
|Story by||Irving Block
Robby the Robot
|Narrated by||Les Tremayne|
|Music by||Louis and Bebe Barron|
|Cinematography||George J. Folsey|
|Edited by||Ferris Webster|
|Running time||98 minutes|
Forbidden Planet is a 1956 MGM Eastmancolor in CinemaScope science fiction film directed by Fred M. Wilcox, a screenplay by Cyril Hume, and starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Leslie Nielsen. Forbidden Planet is the first science fiction film in which humans are depicted traveling in a starship of their own creation. It was also the very first science fiction film set entirely on another world in interstellar space, far away from the planet Earth. Forbidden Planet is considered one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, a precursor of what was to come for the science fiction film genre in the decades that followed. The characters and isolated setting have been compared to those in William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and its plot does contain certain story analogues and a reference to one section of Jung's theory on the collective subconscious.
Forbidden Planet features special effects for which A. Arnold Gillespie, Irving G. Ries, and Wesley C. Miller were nominated for an Academy Award; it was the only major award nomination the film received. The film features the first groundbreaking use of an entirely electronic musical score by Louis and Bebe Barron. Forbidden Planet also featured Robby the Robot, the first film robot that was more than just a mechanical "tin can" on legs; Robby displays a distinct personality and is a complete supporting character in the film. The movie's supporting cast features Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Earl Holliman and James Drury.
Early in the 23rd century, the United Planets Cruiser C-57D travels to the planet Altair IV, 16 light-years from Earth, to discover the fate of an expedition sent 20 years earlier. Soon after entering orbit, the cruiser receives a transmission from Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), the expedition's master of languages and their meanings. He warns the starship to stay away, saying he cannot guarantee their safety; he also states further assistance is not necessary. Commander John J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) ignores the warning and insists on landing.
They are met on arrival by Robby the Robot, who takes Adams, Lieutenant Jerry Farman (Jack Kelly), and Lieutenant "Doc" Ostrow (Warren Stevens) to Morbius's home. There, Morbius explains that an unknown "planetary force" killed nearly everyone and then vaporized their starship, Bellerophon, as the survivors tried to lift off the planet. Only Morbius, his wife (who later died of natural causes), and their daughter Altaira (Anne Francis) were somehow immune. Morbius fears that the C-57D and its crew will meet the same fate. Altaira, having only known her father, becomes attracted to several of the Earth men.
Later the next night, equipment aboard the C-57D is sabotaged, though posted sentries never see the intruder. Adams and Ostrow confront Morbius the following morning. They learn he has been studying a highly advanced native species, the Krell, a race that mysteriously died suddenly 200,000 years before, just as they were on the verge of achieving their crowning scientific triumph.
In a Krell laboratory, Morbius shows Adams and Ostrow a device he calls a "plastic educator", a device capable of measuring and enhancing intellectual capacity; he uses it to display a three-dimensional, moving thought projection of Altaira. The Bellerophon's captain tried the machine and was instantly killed. When Morbius first used this machine, he barely survived; he later discovered his intellect had been permanently doubled. His increased intelligence enabled him, along with information from a stored Krell library, to build Robby and the other "technological marvels" in his home. Morbius then takes them on a tour of a vast cube-shaped underground Krell machine complex, 20 miles (30 km) square, still functioning and powered by 9,200 thermonuclear reactors. Afterwards, Adams demands that the fantastic knowledge of the Krell be turned over to Earth supervision but Morbius refuses, citing the potential danger that Krell technology would pose to mankind if it were to fall into the wrong hands and be misused.
In response to the sabotage, Adams orders a defensive force field fence deployed around the starship. This proves useless when the intruder returns undetected and murders Chief Engineer Quinn (Richard Anderson). Later, Dr. Ostrow (Warren Stevens) is confused by a casting made from one of the large footprints the intruder left behind: its contradictory features appear to violate all known laws and principles of evolution.
When the intruder returns, the C-57D's crew is prepared. They quickly discover that the creature is invisible. Its roaring image becomes visible as it stands within the fence's force field, further enhanced by the crew's directed high-energy weapons fire, all of which have no effect. It kills several of the crew, including Astrogator Jerry Farman. Back in the Krell lab, Morbius is startled awake by Altaira's screaming; at that same instant, the large creature suddenly vanishes.
Later, while Adams confronts Morbius at his home, Ostrow sneaks away to use the Krell educator; as Morbius had warned, however, he is fatally injured. Ostrow explains to Adams that the Great Machine was built to materialize anything the Krell could imagine, projecting matter anywhere on the planet. However, with his dying breath, he also says the Krell forgot one thing: "Monsters from the Id!" Morbius points out there are no Krell still alive. Adams asserts that Morbius' subconscious mind, enhanced by the "plastic educator", can utilize the Great Machine, recreating the Id monster that killed the original expedition; Morbius refuses to accept this conclusion.
After Altaira declares her love for Adams in defiance of her father's wishes, Robby detects the creature approaching the house. Morbius commands the robot to kill it, but Robby knows it is a manifestation of his master. His programming to never harm humans comes into conflict with Morbius' command and shuts Robby down. Powered by the Great Machine, the creature melts the indestructible metal doors of the Krell laboratory where Adams, Altaira, and Morbius have taken refuge. Morbius finally accepts the truth: the creature is an extension of his own mind, "his evil self". He then confronts the creature, saying, "Stop! Come no closer! I deny you! I give you up!" This act triggers a backlash in the Great Machine which mortally injures him (possibly a stroke, although the nature of the injury is never discussed), as the power indicators connected to the Great Machine go dark one by one. With his last ounce of strength, Morbius then directs Adams to turn a small disc until it locks. As he does so, a plunger switch rises up out of the floor. At Morbius's urging, Adams then throws the switch by pushing it straight down until it also locks. A red-and-white warning indicator surrounding the switch then lights up. The dying scientist then warns Adams and his daughter that within the next 24 hours they must be at least 100 million miles out in space, because Adams has just linked all of the Great Machine's thermonuclear reactors together, and has initiated an irreversible chain reaction which will destroy Altair IV completely.
From deep space, with the C-57D now at a safe distance, and safely on course back to Earth, Adams, Altaira, Robby, and the rest of the crew witness the destruction of Altair IV on the ship's main viewscreen. As the planet disappears in a flash of disintegration, Adams comforts Altaira, pointing out that, if nothing else, a million years in the future, her father's tragic experience will remind mankind that, "we are, after all, not God." With those words, the ship continues its journey back to Earth, and the film concludes.
- Walter Pidgeon as Dr. Edward Morbius
- Anne Francis as Altaira "Alta" Morbius
- Leslie Nielsen as Commander John J. Adams
- Robby the Robot as Himself
- Warren Stevens as Lt. "Doc" Ostrow
- Jack Kelly as Lt. Jerry Farman
- Richard Anderson as Chief Quinn
- Earl Holliman as Cook
- George Wallace as Steve
- Bob Dix as Grey
- Jimmy Thompson as Youngerford
- James Drury as Strong
- Harry Harvey, Jr. as Randall
- Roger McGee as Lindstrom
- Peter Miller as Moran
- Morgan Jones as Nichols
- Richard Grant as Silvers
- Frankie Darro, the stuntman inside Robby the Robot (uncredited)
- Marvin Miller, voice of Robby the Robot (uncredited)
- Les Tremayne as the Narrator (uncredited)
- James Best as a C-57D crewman (uncredited)
- William Boyett as a C-57D crewman (uncredited)
The screen story by Irving Block and Allen Adler, written in 1952, was originally titled Fatal Planet. The later screenplay draft by Cyril Hume renamed the film Forbidden Planet, because this was believed to have greater box-office appeal. Block and Adler's drama took place in the year 1976 on the planet Mercury. An Earth expedition headed by John Grant was sent to the planet to retrieve Dr. Adams and his daughter Dorianne, who have been stranded there for twenty years. From then on, its plot is roughly the same as that of the completed film, though Grant is able to rescue both Adams and his daughter and escape the invisible monster stalking them.
The film sets were constructed on a Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) sound stage at its Culver City film lot and were designed by Cedric Gibbons and Arthur Longeran. The film was shot entirely indoors, with all the Altair IV exterior scenes simulated using sets, visual effects, and matte paintings.
A full-size mock-up of roughly three-quarters of the C-57D starship was built to suggest its full width of 170 ft (51 m). The ship was surrounded by a huge, painted cyclorama featuring the desert landscape of Altair IV; this one set took up all of the available space in one of the Culver City sound stages.
Later, C-57D models, special effects shots, and the full-size set details were reused in several different episodes of the television series The Twilight Zone, which were filmed by CBS at the same MGM studio location in Culver City.
At a cost of roughly $125,000, Robby the Robot was very expensive for a single film prop at this time. Both the electrically controlled passenger vehicle driven by Robby and the truck/tractor-crane off-loaded from the C-57D starship were also constructed specially for this film. Robby the Robot later starred in the science fiction film The Invisible Boy and appeared in many TV series and films that followed; like the C-57D, Robby (and his passenger vehicle) appeared in various episodes of CBS' The Twilight Zone, usually slightly modified for each appearance.
The animated sequences of Forbidden Planet, especially the attack of the "Id Monster", were created by the veteran animator Joshua Meador, who was loaned out to MGM by Walt Disney Pictures. According to a "Behind the Scenes" featurette on the film's DVD, a close look at the creature shows it to have a small goatee beard, suggesting its connection to Dr. Morbius, the only character with this physical feature; the bellowing, now visible Id monster, caught in the crewman's high-energy beams during the attack, is a direct reference to and visual pun on MGM's familiar roaring mascot Leo the Lion, seen at the very beginning of Forbidden Planet and the studio's other films of the era.
Forbidden Planet was first released across the U. S. on April 1, 1956 in CinemaScope, Metrocolor, and in some theaters, stereophonic sound, either by the magnetic or Perspecta processes. The Hollywood premiere was held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and Robby the Robot was on display in the lobby. Forbidden Planet ran every day at Grauman's Theater through the following September.
Forbidden Planet was re-released to movie theaters during 1972 as one of MGM's "Kiddie Matinee" features; it was missing about six minutes of film footage cut to ensure it received a "G" rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. Later video releases carry a "G" rating, though they are all the original theatrical version.
Forbidden Planet was first released in the pan and scan format in 1982 on MGM VHS and Betamax videotape and on MGM laser disc and CED Videodisc; years later, in 1996, it was again re-issued by MGM/UA, but this time in widescreen VHS and laser disc, both for the film's 40th anniversary. But it was The Criterion Collection that later re-issued Forbidden Planet in CinemaScope's original wider screen 2:55-to-1 aspect ratio, on a deluxe laser disc set, with various extra features on a second disc. Warner Bros. next released the film on DVD in 1999 (MGM's catalog of films had been sold in 1988 to AOL-Time Warner by Turner Entertainment and MGM/UA). Warner's release offered both cropped and widescreen picture formats on the same disc.
For the film's 50th anniversary, the Ultimate Collector's Edition was released on November 28, 2006 in an over-sized red metal box, using the original movie poster for its wraparound cover. Both DVD and high definition HD DVD formats were available in this deluxe package. Inside both premium packages were the films Forbidden Planet and The Invisible Boy, The Thin Man episode "Robot Client" and a documentary Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, The 1950s and Us. Also included were miniature lobby cards and an 8 cm (3-inch) toy replica of Robby the Robot. This was quickly followed by the release of the Forbidden Planet 50th Anniversary edition in both standard DVD and HD DVD packaging. Both 50th anniversary formats were mastered by Warner Bros.-MGM techs from a fully restored, digital transfer of the film. A Blu-ray Disc edition of Forbidden Planet was released on September 7, 2010.
Shortly before the film was released, a novelization appeared in hardcover and then later in mass-market paperback; it was written by W. J. Stuart (the mystery novelist Philip MacDonald writing under the pseudonym), which chapters the novel into separate first person narrations by Dr. Ostrow, Commander Adams, and Dr. Morbius. The novel delves further into the mysteries of the vanished Krell and Morbius' relationship to them. In the novel he repeatedly exposes himself to the Krell's manifestation machine, which (as suggested in the film) boosts his brain power far beyond normal human intelligence. Unfortunately, Morbius retains enough of his imperfect human nature to be afflicted with hubris and a contempt for humanity. Not recognizing his own base primitive drives and limitations proves to be Morbius' downfall, as it had for the extinct Krell. While not stated explicitly in the film (although the basis for a deleted scene first included as an extra with the Criterion Collection's laser disc set and included with both the later 50th anniversary DVD and current Blu-ray releases), the novelization compared Altaira's ability to tame the tiger (until her sexual awakening with Commander Adams) to the medieval myth of a unicorn being tameable only by a virgin.
The novel also raises an issue never dealt with in the film: when Dr. Ostrow dissects one of the dead Earth-type animals, he discovers that its internal structure is altogether unlike that of any real animal. The tiger, the deer, and the monkey are all conscious creations by Dr. Morbius and only outwardly resemble their Earth counterparts. Since the Krell's great machine can project matter "in any form" it has the power to create life. Thus, the Krell's self-destruction can be interpreted by the reader as a cosmic punishment for misappropriating the life-creating power of the universe. This is why Commander Adams says in his speech to Altaira "...we are, after all, not God."
However, the "machine creations" of the novel can be said to break some canons established in the film. The great machine operated in real time and could not create lifeforms that were independent of its operator's immediate will. Thus, Morbius would be tasked with re-imaging those animals any time they were needed, and there is no suggestion anywhere in the novel of this happening. Hence, the comparatively more plausible statement offered within the film: the tiger, the deer, and the monkey were the descendents of specimens brought to Altair IV from Earth.
Forbidden Planet's innovative electronic music score, credited as "electronic tonalities," partly to avoid having to pay any of the film industry music guild fees, was composed by Louis and Bebe Barron. MGM producer Dore Schary discovered the couple quite by chance at a beatnik nightclub in Greenwich Village while on a family Christmas visit to New York City; Schary hired them on the spot to compose his film's musical score. While the theremin (which was not used in Forbidden Planet) had been used on the soundtrack of Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945), the Barrons' electronic composition is credited with being the first completely electronic film score; their soundtrack preceded the invention of the Moog synthesizer by eight years (1964).
Using ideas and procedures from the book, Cybernetics: Or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (1948) by the mathematician and electrical engineer Norbert Wiener, Louis Barron constructed his own electronic circuits that he used to generate the score's "bleeps, blurps, whirs, whines, throbs, hums, and screeches". Most of these sounds were generated using an electronic circuit called a "ring modulator". After recording the basic sounds, the Barrons further manipulated the sounds by adding other effects, such as reverberation and delay, and reversing or changing the speeds of certain sounds.
Since Louis and Bebe Barron did not belong to the Musicians Union, their work could not be considered for an Academy Award, in either the "soundtrack" or the "sound effects" categories. MGM declined to publish a soundtrack album at the same time that Forbidden Planet was released. However, film composer and conductor David Rose later published a 7" (18 cm) single of his original main title theme that he had recorded at the MGM Studios in Culver City during March 1956. His main title theme had been discarded when Rose, who had originally been hired to compose the musical score in 1955, was discharged from the project by Dore Schary sometime between Christmas 1955 and New Year’s Day. The film's original theatrical trailer contains snippets of Rose's score, the tapes of which Rose reportedly later destroyed.
The Barrons finally released their soundtrack in 1976 as an LP album for the film's 20th anniversary; it was on their very own Planet Records label (later changed to Small Planet Records and distributed by GNP Crescendo Records). The LP was premiered at MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Kansas City, MO over the 1976 Labor Day weekend, as part of a 20th Anniversary celebration of Forbidden Planet held at that Worldcon; the Barrons were there promoting their album's first release, signing all the copies sold at the convention. They also introduced the first of three packed-house screenings that showed an MGM 35mm fine grain vault print in original CinemaScope and stereophonic sound. A decade later, in 1986, their soundtrack was released on a music CD for the film's 30th Anniversary, with a six-page color booklet containing images from Forbidden Planet, plus liner notes from the composers, Louis and Bebe Barron, and Bill Malone.
The following is a list of compositions on the CD:
- Main Titles (Overture)
- Once Around Altair
- The Landing
- Flurry Of Dust – A Robot Approaches
- A Shangri-La In The Desert / Garden With Cuddly Tiger
- Graveyard – A Night With Two Moons
- "Robby, Make Me A Gown"
- An Invisible Monster Approaches
- Robby Arranges Flowers, Zaps Monkey
- Love At The Swimming Hole
- Morbius' Study
- Ancient Krell Music
- The Mind Booster – Creation Of Matter
- Krell Shuttle Ride And Power Station
- Giant Footprints In The Sand
- "Nothing Like This Claw Found In Nature!"
- Robby, The Cook, And 60 Gallons Of Booze
- Battle With The Invisible Monster
- "Come Back To Earth With Me"
- The Monster Pursues – Morbius Is Overcome
- The Homecoming
- Overture (Reprise) [this track recorded at Royce Hall, UCLA, 1964]
The robot B9 and set of the spaceship Jupiter 2 in the TV series Lost in Space were inspired by Forbidden Planet and designed by Robert Kinoshita, creator of Robby the Robot.
The underground complex of Project Tic-Toc in the TV series "The Time Tunnel" is very similar to the underground Krell laboratory.
A scene from the science fiction TV series Babylon 5, set on the Epsilon III Great Machine bridge, strongly resembles the Krell's great machine. While this was not the intent of the show's producer, the special effects crew, tasked with creating the imagery, stated that the Krell's machine was a definite influence on their Epsilon III designs.
In Strata, an early Terry Pratchett novel, Silver – a bear-like alien – mentions portraying the Id Monster in a remake of Forbidden Planet.
|This section requires expansion. (February 2014)|
The film appeared on two American Film Institute Lists.
New Line Cinema had developed a remake with James Cameron, Nelson Gidding and Stirling Silliphant involved at different points. In 2007 DreamWorks set up the project with David Twohy set to direct. Warner Bros. re-acquired the rights the following year and on October 31, 2008, J. Michael Straczynski was announced as writing a remake, Joel Silver was to produce. Straczynski explained that the original had been his favorite science fiction film, and it gave Silver an idea for the new film that makes it "not a remake", "not a reimagining", and "not exactly a prequel". His vision for the film would not be retro, because when the original was made it was meant to be futuristic. Straczynski met with people working in astrophysics, planetary geology and artificial intelligence to reinterpret the Krell back-story as a film trilogy. As of November 2013, no more information had been released about this Forbidden Planet remake; the project appears to have disappeared into development limbo or gone directly into industry turnaround.
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- The Eddie Mannix Ledger. Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- Variety film review; March 14, 1956, page 6.
- Harrison's Reports film review; March 17, 1956, page 44.
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- Robert C. Ring, Sci-Fi Movie Freak, page 22 (Krause Publications, a division of F+W Media, 2011). ISBN 978-1-4402-2862-9
- M. Keith Booker, Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction Cinema, page 126 (Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2010). ISBN 978-0-8108-5570-0
- Wilson, Robert Frank (2000). Shakespeare in Hollywood, 1929–1956. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 10. ISBN 0-8386-3832-5. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
- Miller, Scott (2008). "Inside Return to the Forbidden Planet". Excerpt from Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Musical Theatre. Northeastern University. 2011. ISBN 9781555537432.
- "The Robot Hall of Fame : Robby, the Robot". The Robot Hall of Fame (Carnegie Mellon University). Retrieved 2006-08-14.
- "Library of Congress announces 2013 National Film Registry selections" (Press release). Washington Post. December 18, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
- "tkm fav the forbidden planet". klangmuseum.de. Retrieved 2006-08-16.
- "Forbidden Planet". MovieDiva. Retrieved 2006-08-16. "He cost $125,000; a lot of money for a single prop, and was inhabited by a couple of different actors and voiced by Marvin Miller, whose other brief moment of fame was the title role in The Millionaire, a 1950s TV show."
- Lev, Peter (2006). Transforming the screen, 1950–1959. History of the American cinema 7. University of California Press. p. 176. ISBN 0-520-24966-6.
- 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
- "Forbidden Planet" (Ultimate Collector's ed.). Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2010-08-15.[dead link]
- "HD DVD review of Forbidden Planet (Warner Brothers, 50th Anniversary Edition)". DVDTOWN.com. 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- W. J. Stuart, Forbidden Planet (A Novel), New York: Farrar, Strauss and Cudahy, 1956.
- "Recommended Reading," F&SF, June 1956, p.102.
- Notes about film soundtrack and CD, MovieGrooves-FP
- Alexander, David (1996-08-26). "Star Trek" Creator: Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry. Boxtree. ISBN 0-7522-0368-1.
- "A Darker Side", documentary on Planet of Evil DVD (BBC DVD1814).
- Return to the Forbidden Planet, The Henley College
- "Oliviers:Olivier Winners 1989/90". officiallondontheatre.co.uk. Society of London Theatre. Retrieved 2010-11-11.
- Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5, "A Voice in the Wilderness (Pt 1)" episode guide, 'JMS Speaks' section
- AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees
- AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
- Borys Kit and Jay A. Fernandez (2008-10-31). "Changeling scribe on Forbidden Planet". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2008-10-31.[dead link]
- Casey Seijas (2008-12-01). "J. Michael Straczynski Promises His Take On ‘Forbidden Planet’ Will Be Something ‘No One Has Thought Of’". MTV Movies Blog. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Forbidden Planet|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Forbidden Planet.|
- Forbidden Planet at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Forbidden Planet at the Internet Movie Database
- Forbidden Planet at the TCM Movie Database
- Forbidden Planet at AllMovie
- Forbidden Planet at Rotten Tomatoes
- DVD Journal review
- NPR: Barron Score
- Cinematographic analysis of Forbidden Planet
- "Geological Time Termination in a SciFi Biosphere: An Alternative View of THE FORBIDDEN PLANET"