Director: Fred McLeod Wilcox
Writer: Cyril Hume
Cast: Walter Pigeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Richard Anderson, Earl Holliman, George Wallace, Bob Dix, Jimmy Thompson, James Drury, Harry Harvey Jr., Roger McGee, Peter Miller, Morgan Jones, Richard Grant, and Robby the Robot
Composers: Louis and Bebe Barron
Release Date: 3/23/1956
MPAA Rating: G
Investigating the fate of an Earth expedition, John J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen)—commander of the starship C-57D—and his crew arrive on Altair IV, where Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pigeon) and his daughter Altaira (Anne Francis), having survived the attacks of a giant, invisible monster, permanently reside. Thereafter, Commander Adams and Lieutenant “Doc” Ostrow (Warren Stevens) make a horrifying discovery about Dr. Morbius—supposedly the only person capable of interacting with, let alone understanding, the equipment built by the original inhabitants of Altair IV.
The cinematic debut of Robby the Robot, Forbidden Planet earns its reputation as the greatest and most thought-provoking science fiction movie ever made. Notably, this production should be commended for its haunting alien landscapes, breathtaking visual effects, and groundbreaking use of now common space exploration tropes.
Complemented by the gravitas of Walter Pigeon, Dr. Morbius is defined by his passion for exploring the unknown and benefiting humanity in so doing—an aspect that, despite resulting in the deaths of many, should allow the audience to sympathize with his perspective. Other notable characters include Robby the Robot, a mechanical servant built by Dr. Morbius; the ship’s cook played by Earl Holliman, offering comic relief when necessary; and Altaira Morbius, the innocence of whom provides a startling contrast to the dark, malevolent desires lurking within the subconscious of her father.
Also quite fascinating are the science fiction concepts introduced in Forbidden Planet, the first full-length feature to showcase a robot with personality, occur within a setting far from Earth, and examine the remnants of a long-extinct alien civilization—all themes that will appeal to genre enthusiasts, especially when accentuated by the alien-sounding “music” produced by Bebe and Louis Barron.
By employing a popular notion in Freudian psychology, Forbidden Planet explores the potential consequences of unbridled scientific development. Specifically, Dr. Morbius arrogantly assumes that he alone can operate the plastic educator without danger to himself or others, refusing to consider that primal urges exist within every human mind, brilliant or otherwise, and will materialize if exposed to the same technology that doomed the Krell to extinction over 200,000 years prior—a harrowing statement on how a lack of humility, at least when coupled with tremendous power, could ultimately destroy an advanced civilization.
This offering deserves praise for its artistic direction, compelling narrative conflict, and disturbing insight into a possible outcome of human progress. Thus, for creature feature buffs, fans of Robby the Robot (also known for appearing in The Invisible Boy along with various episodes of Lost in Space and The Twilight Zone), and those who enjoy science fiction with a spacefaring twist, Forbidden Planet will not disappoint.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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