|Directed by||Fred M. Wilcox|
|Produced by||Nicholas Nayfack|
|Screenplay by||Cyril Hume|
|Story by||Irving Block |
|Starring||Walter Pidgeon |
Robby the Robot
|Music by||Louis and Bebe Barron|
|Cinematography||George J. Folsey|
|Editing by||Ferris Webster|
|Release date(s)|| |
|Running time||98 minutes|
|Box office||$23.5 million (United States)|
Forbidden Planet (1956) is a science fiction film directed by Fred M. Wilcox, with a screenplay by Cyril Hume. It stars Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Leslie Nielsen. The characters and its setting have been compared to those in William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and its plot contains certain story analogs and a reference to one section of Jung's theory on the collective subconscious. Forbidden Planet is the first science fiction film in which humans are depicted traveling in a starship of their own construction. It was also the first science fiction film that was set entirely on another planet in deep space, 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.
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. Forbidden Planet features the groundbreaking use of an entirely electronic musical score by Louis and Bebe Barron. It also featured "Robby the Robot", one of the first film robots 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.
Early in the 23rd century, the United Planets Cruiser C57-D 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, the expedition's linguist. He warns the starship away, saying he cannot guarantee their safety; he also states further assistance is not necessary. Commander John J. Adams bypasses the warning and insists on landing coordinates.
They are met on landing by Robby the Robot, who takes Adams, Lieutenant Jerry Farman, and Lieutenant "Doc" Ostrow 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 were somehow immune. Morbius fears that the C57-D and its crew will meet the same fate; Altaira is fascinated to meet other Earthmen after knowing only her father.
Later the next night, equipment aboard the C57-D is sabotaged, though posted sentries never spot 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 achieved their crowning scientific triumph.
In a still functioning Krell laboratory, Morbius shows Adams and Ostrow a device he calls a "plastic educator," a machine 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 the machine, he barely survived; he later discovered his intellect had been permanently doubled. His increased intelligence, along with information from a Krell "library", enabled him 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 complex, 20 miles [30 km] on each side, still functioning and powered by 9,200 thermonuclear reactors.
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. Later, Dr. Ostrow is confused by a casting made from one of the large footprints the intruder left behind: its contradictory features appear to violate all known evolutionary laws.
When the intruder returns, the C57-D's crew is prepared but discovers it 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, which has no effect. Several of the crew are killed during the battle, including 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; he is fatally injured. As he lies dying, Ostrow explains to Adams that the great machine was built to materialize anything the Krell could imagine, projecting it anywhere on the planet. However, with his dying breath, he also says the Krell forgot one thing: "Monsters from the Id!" When confronted by Adams, Morbius objects, pointing out that there are no Krell alive. Adams counters that Morbius' subconscious mind, expanded by the "plastic educator," can access the great machine and recreate the monster that killed the original expedition; Morbius refuses to believe it.
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 conflict to never harm humans forces Robby to shut down. Powered by the great machine, the creature melts through the indestructible 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 is fatally injured trying to stop the monster, which then immediately disappears. Morbius directs Adams to activate a floor switch (a self-destruct mechanism) and warns them that they must be 100 million miles away within 24 hours.
From deep space, Adams, Altaira, Robby, and the rest of the crew witness the destruction of Altair IV and the entire planetary system.
- 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 C57-D crewman (uncredited)
- William Boyett as a C57-D 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 C57-D 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, C57-D 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 C57-D 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 C57-D, 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 on April 1, 1956, across the United States of America in CinemaScope and Metrocolor, and with stereophonic sound in some cinemas (either by the magnetic or Perspecta processes). The premiere of Forbidden Planet in Hollywood was 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.
The film earned rentals of $1.6 million in North America in 1956.
Forbidden Planet was re-released in film theaters during 1972 as one of the "Kiddie Matinee" features of MGM, with about six minutes of film footage cut to ensure that it received a "G" rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. Video releases feature the "G" rating; however, they are all uncut.
Home media 
Forbidden Planet was first available in the pan and scan format on MGM VHS and Betamax Video tapes in 1982, then was re-issued again by MGM/UA on widescreen VHS for the film's 40th anniversary in 1996. The film was also released on laser disc the same year by MGM/UA and later in its original CinemaScope widescreen format from The Criterion Collection. The Warner Bros. company next released it on DVD in 1999. (MGM's catalog of films had been sold to AOL-Time Warner by Turner Entertainment and MGM/UA in 1998. Their version came with both the standard and original widescreen format on the same disc.)
For the film's 50th anniversary, the Ultimate Collector's Edition was released on November 28, 2006 in an oversized red metal box, using the original movie poster for its 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 a 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.
After the film was released, a novelization quickly followed in both hardcover and 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's relationship to them. In the novel, he repeatedly exposes himself to the Krell 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's downfall, as it had for the extinct Krell. While not stated explicitly in the film (although the basis of a deleted scene found on the film's 50th anniversary DVD), 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 clarifies an issue only hinted at in the film. When Dr. Ostrow dissects one of the Earth type animals, he discovers that its internal structure is altogether unlike that of any real animal. The tiger, the deer, the monkey are all conscious creations by Dr Morbius and only outwardly resemble these creatures. Since the Krell's Great Machine can project matter "in any form", it can create life. The Krells' destruction was, in part, punishment for appropriating the powers of God. This is why Commander Adams says in his closing speech "...we are, after all, not God".
However, the 'machine creations' of the novelization can be said to break some canons of the film. The machine operated in real time; that is, it could not create standing matter forms independent of its operator's immediate will. Thus Morbius would be tasked with re-imaging the animals any time they were called for and there is no suggestion this was happening. Hence, the (comparatively more plausible) statement, within the film, that the tiger, the deer, and the monkey were descended from specimens brought back to Altair IV from prehistoric 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 snippits 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 there. They also introduced the first of three packed-house screenings that showed an MGM 35mm fine grain vault print in original CinemaScope and sterophonic sound. A decade later, their soundtrack was released on a music CD in 1986 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 soundtrack is also available on disc one of the album Forbidden Planet Explored.
Track list 
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 biography of Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek Creator, notes that Forbidden Planet "was one of my inspirations for Star Trek." The Doctor Who story Planet of Evil was consciously based partly on Forbidden Planet." The title character of the 1975 story The Brain of Morbius was named after Dr. Morbius from Forbidden Planet.
A scene from the science fiction television series Babylon 5, set on the Epsilon III Great Machine bridge, strongly resembles the Krell 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 Great Machine was a deliberate reference to their Epsilon III homage.
Forbidden Planet is named alongside several other classic science fiction films in the opening song "Science Fiction Double-Feature" of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The film appeared on two American Film Institute Lists.
Possible remake 
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 January 2013, no more information had been released about this possible Forbidden Planet remake; Straczynski's and Silver's project appears to have either disappeared into development limbo or possibly gone directly into industry turnaround.
See also 
- "Forbidden Planet (1956)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
- Variety film review; March 14, 1956, page 6.
- Harrison's Reports film review; March 17, 1956, page 44.
- 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.
- "Forbidden Planet: Ultimate Collector's Edition from Warner Home Video on DVD – Special Edition". Whv.warnerbros.com. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- 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
- "The Robot Hall of Fame : Robby, the Robot". The Robot Hall of Fame (Carnegie Mellon University). Retrieved 2006-08-14.
- "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), London: Transworld Publishers, 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 a collection of quotations related to: Forbidden Planet|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Forbidden Planet|
- Forbidden Planet at the Internet Movie Database
- Forbidden Planet at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Forbidden Planet at AllRovi
- Forbidden Planet at Rotten Tomatoes
- DVD Journal review
- Film review: Parallax Reviews: 'Forbidden Planet', Forbidden Fruit, Ingrid Richter, 23-November-1999, space.com[dead link]
- NPR: Barron Score
- Cinematographic analysis of Forbidden Planet
- "Geological Time Termination in a SciFi Biosphere: An Alternative View of THE FORBIDDEN PLANET"