Forbidden Planet

1956, Movie, NR, 98 mins


A superb sci-fi flick, FORBIDDEN PLANET offers an unusually intelligent script, exciting direction by Wilcox and generally good acting from a decent if rather dull cast.

It is 2200 A.D. when Commander Adams (Nielsen) lands his United Planets Cruiser on Altair-4, which features a green sky, pink sand, and two moons. He had been warned not to do so by Dr. Morbius (Pidgeon), a member of a missing Earth colony sent to the planet 20 years earlier. Adams and crew are greeted by Robby the Robot, a benign and astounding creation fluent in 88 languages and capable of any task, including producing an endless supply of bourbon at the behest of the crew's mischievous cook (Holliman). The robot drives Adams and his senior officers to the home of Morbius and his daughter Altaira (Francis, failing entirely to transcend her ill-conceived, camp classic role). Morbius explains that he and his glamorous love-spawn are the only survivors of attacks by an invisible monster prowling the planet. After the viewer is treated to scenes like Altaira's kissing lesson (the poor lusty darling has gone man-less, just imagine!), the invisible terror begins killing again.

FORBIDDEN PLANET is really a futuristic version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, with Morbius doubling for the wizard Prospero, Altaira a substitute Miranda, Robby the Robot serving as the spirit Ariel, and the Id monster being Caliban the witch-child. The first sci-fi film to cost $1 million, FORBIDDEN PLANET benefits immeasurably from its astounding technical prowess. The deadpan, all-purpose Robby the Robot is the film's most delightful creation, and it's not surprising that he later appeared in THE INVISIBLE BOY and scores of television shows.

While the spacemen are all likably heroic and Francis and Holliman can be forgiven for the enjoyable excesses of their roles, it is really Pidgeon who gives the drama flair and majesty. All in all, a splendid fantasy achievement that wears its age well. leave a comment

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