Monday, January 9, 2012
(April 1956, U.S.)
FORBIDDEN PLANET is one of those incredibly dated films that I can only close my eyes and try to imagine what it must have been like to be kid in 1956 seeing its science fiction wonders for the first time on screen in "Cinemascope" at a Saturday matinee movie theater. Incredibly dated, indeed, as compared to the likes of everything we've ever seen on the big screen since Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. It should also be noted to all fans of the original STAR TREK who have never seen this film, that FORBIDDEN PLANET contains many of the elements that would eventually create the mega-TV hit; a starship cruiser with a witty captain and his loyal crew exploring strange new worlds and boldly going where no man has gone before. Yes, all you "Trekkies", before STAR TREK ever went on the air, there was FORBIDDEN PLANET!
From the moment the crew of the United Planets Cruiser C57-D arrives at the planet Altair IV, they're warned by Doctor Morbius (played by Walter Pigeon) to stay away, as their is some sort of unknown planetary force that could easily destroy them all. But Commander John J. Adams (played by Leslie Neilson, before he became the funny poster boy for all those spoof films) is under orders to survey and investigate things there, regardless of any warnings. The planet, as it turns out, is quite beautiful and stunning in its imagery. Our introduction to Robby the Robot may as well be a precursor to meeting See-Threepio decades later, as they both contain the same programs of languange and servitude. Robby, however, is not nearly as effeminate as See-Threepio (but that's another issue entirely).
Following the visual wonders of this new planet, the danger begins and memebers of the crew begin to die. What is destroying them, however, is very unclear, as we're only shown a figure of animation (courtesy of Disney studios on loan, by the way) that only resembles a very angry monster of sorts. This is where we're introduced to the concept of "monsters from the Id", the portion of the brian that seemingly houses all of our primitive and savage urges, including the will to commit murder. And so, in a concept that must have been pretty damn high for small children who went to see this G-rated movie, we learn that the "monsters from the Id" have been stored in the subconscious of Dr. Morbius himself, as he was responsible for unknowingly murdering his own people and members of C57-D's crew while he slept. Like I said, very high concept, but then again most of the really intelligent science fiction films are.
So, dated or not, FORBIDDEN PLANET is a visual and acting experience that should be appreciated. Without its imagination, we might never have known 2001, STAR WARS, ALIEN or even AVATAR...and wouldn't that have been a shame?
Favorite line or dialogue:
Commander John J. Adams: "Nice climate you have here. High oxygen content.
Robby the Robot: "I seldom use it myself, sir. It promotes rust."