For this year’s A-To-Z Challenge, my theme is MOVIES. I will be working my way through the alphabet during the month of April with movie titles and short blurbs about each movie. Today’s movie is “Forbidden Planet.”
“Forbidden Planet” was a 1956 American science fiction film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, that starred Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Leslie Nielsen. It is considered one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s. The movie was a technological breakthrough for its time and is thought of as a precursor of contemporary science fiction cinema. The characters and isolated setting have been compared to those in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” and the plot contains certain similarities to the play, leading many to consider it a loose adaptation.
The film is about Astronauts in the 23rd century who are sent to the distant planet, Altair IV, to find out why a previous expedition had vanished. Once there, they find the reclusive professor Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) living with his beautiful daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis), and an amazing robot named Robby, who has a distinct personality and human traits. Morbius tells the astronauts that some unknown force killed the other settlers and shows them the vast underground city of the Krell, the long-dead natives of Altair IV. An invisible monster starts killing the astronauts, who discover that the monster is a projection of Morbius’s subconscious unleashed by his experiments with the mind-expanding machinery of the Krell.
“Forbidden Planet” pioneered several aspects of science fiction cinema. It was the first science fiction film to depict humans traveling in a faster-than-light starship of their own creation. It was also the first to be set entirely on another planet in interstellar space, far away from Earth. The Robby the Robot character is one of the first film robots that was more than just a mechanical “tin can” on legs. Robby displays a distinct personality and is an integral supporting character in the film. The film was groundbreaking as the first of any genre to use an entirely electronic musical score.
There are so many great science fiction movies out there, but “Forbidden Planet” was the first one I ever saw and, while this 66 year old film is dated from the perspective of what Sci-Fi filmmakers can do today with CGI and other special effects, the 1956 classic remains high on my list of favorites.