At the screening of 'Forbidden Planet'

On the National Mall, Washington, D.C.
August 7, 2000.
A review, with commentary, analogies, & a synopsis.

Some remarks during the show ( - genuine ones! by real people ) :

"What's Forbidden Planet? Is it Star Trek stuff?"

"Here comes Bigfoot!"

[and, at the final credits]
"That Morbius was so nasty."


   A George Adamski flying saucer lands on a planet of fancy backdrops inhabited by 1939 Word's Fair refugees.  An idyll of relaxing good cheer is disrupted by a semi-invisible something-or-other, alien & ferocious . . . .

'Forbidden Planet' is a great monument to 'let's pretend' ( - A thing definitely displaced and supplanted:   Nowadays, movies spare people all effort of pretending . . . . . . which might be why they are somewhat disappointing lately. -? )

The best part of it, the real raison d'etre that keeps this movie from being a 'notable specimen', a 'classic museum piece' - if anything can - is the part where Morbius and two others enter the domain of the "brand-new condition ... two thousand centuries old" high-tech relict laboratory and other works of the long-extinct 'Krel' race. To some extent the movie's center is really a bunch of magnificent mock-ups and futuramagogue sets and props. But this center is so massive - figuratively and literally - and basically well done, that the makers of this movie undoubtedly had a powerful influence on both 'Star Trek' (the original TV series) and Kubrick's '2001', as well as others.      Why?   Some answers are listed here:

- Analogies,

to the movies   '2001: A Space Odyssey',   'The Black Hole',   & 'Solaris'...

- and to the original TV series 'Star Trek':

'Forbidden Planet' compared to 'Star Trek' the series:

(The 1956 movie's influence on the '60s TV series, shown by their common elements)
- The United Planets- The United Federation of Planets
- 'Slowing from light-speed' technology- ...looks just like a Star Trek transporter!
- Leslie Nielsen 'delivers', basically, the role of Captain.
(Even if he delivers it like a pizza, rather than a role.)
- William Shatner's not brilliant but suitably strong acting resembles that of Nielsen more than a little.
- Cook gets royally drunk

- Scotty gets royally sozzled
(in two episodes, which I think were 'The Immunity Syndrome' and 'By Any Other Name':)
Star Trek: The Immunity Syndrome (episode 48) Star Trek: By Any Other Name (episode 50)
- The military esprit and camaraderie sort of thing, in both
- The notion that a sense of humor is compatible with a futuristic setting
- Hand ray-guns of the sort every kid really wants
( - admittedly a tradition in all S.F. video)
- Those annoying hand communicators, & the P.A. systems
- Thinking machines that are useful, but have rather harshened voices.

The influence of 'Forbidden Planet' on '2001':

  2001  -paperback book from
Mixing psychological considerations into the plot, along with thinking-machine malfunction.
The way the sets are almost spooky in their futurism, and how they stretch on at times with seeming endlessness.
Most of all, that beautiful shot of the capsule containing two men seated facing each other, with a window giving a view between them of colored lights moving towards the viewer.

2001  -VHS format from 2001  -DVD format from


How 'Forbidden Planet' showed up in Disney's 'The Black Hole':

The Black Hole Need we notice ? - how Disney borrowed Morbius - look & hairstyle complete - for the Maximilian Schell character in 'The Black Hole'?       Horrors!  When you think it over, except for the fact that he has no daughter, he (and his sidekick the robotoid Maximilian) have an excessive resemblance to Morbius and Robby . . . and they're visited after long isolation by a Navy crew, which is shown over the massive installation etc...... Add robed Space Gothic 'droids from 'Star Wars', a destructive Final Spacefight like the one in 'Moonraker' [ - station destroyed, evil chief lost in space without a suit on - ], and an Alarmingly Symbolic / Magic / Theologic Ending from '2001' (plus a snow meteor storm from 'Silent Running' ! ) and what do you have left!? nothing but some very Disneyish overcuteness about those two robots . . . alas, its too easy to see why critics have always slammed or at least deprecated 'The Black Hole' - the parts are good components, but they are fitted together with derivative chimaricality. Better than 'Battlestar Galactica', though. ( ! )

You could also see an influence on Tarkovsky's 'Solaris'...

(...the film, not the book by Stanislaw Lem. )Andrei Tarkovskys Solaris (1971)

Though I've never seen this film, I read in 'The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction' (Clute & Nicholls) that 'Solaris' contains, "haunting leitmotivs of ... sundering screens," and they are also mentioned together with regard to their "...Electronic music . . . . . . Louis ... and Bebe ... Barron's pioneering score for FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) and the understated contributions by Eduard Artem'ev... to Andrei Tarkovsky's SOLARIS (1971)..."
   Another likeness is the invocation in both movies of, "dark planetary force" at work, the very significant presence of a genius loci planetaria.  And, the sense of dealing with the remains (or manifestations) of an intelligence of a bizarrely different scale from the commonly human.

Of course Altaira tends to think men are crazy, since the only man she's met yet is her father. ..."middle-aged teenagers"... In the person of Anne Francis (who was about 26 years old at the time), she's not meant to be a teenie (what with the rather different way they grow up these days) ... so much as the 'Alien Woman' figure. Somewhat necessary to the empire-building imagination, which wants to go to a foreign shore, find an exotic female, and establish 'cultural relations' with her. Like good ol' B.F. Pinkerton.

To be fair to Morbius:   in his way he's as innocent as his daughter - neither of them has dealt with men for awhile, and in a maturer masculine way, he's maladroit as she is. The primary difference is, he's neither exploited nor played for laughs.

The lengthy deciphering of alien hieroglyphics that empower one to build a useful artificial servant, and the creative imagination machine, are both the sort of thing that's dear to the heart of the professional computer programmer.
To coin a phrase, call it (like 'Love Interest') the Computer Interest of the story.
(Of course, Computer Exploitation is lso a theme in some S.F. . . . maybe 'Colossus:  the Forbin Project', for instance...)

If you like the humorous element among the spaceship's crew, you'll appreciate the book 'Mister Roberts', most likely. - Read it and see.

. . . Pointing to the past a lot - and to a much further future than our present. A defunct, musty, museum piece - and a movie that still is convincingly wierd and funny at times, despite bad/outmoded acting/concepts/dramatics.
(Plus two faults in Nielsen's acting:   The way he suddenly flips into deep Shatner mode to propel the ideas forth, and his pronunciation of the final words of the film being sloppy to incomprehensibility.)

This showing was courtesy of

    I owe a special vote of thanks to the circumstances of this viewing:
Thunder-and-lightning weather was playing during some of the film's more flashy and tense parts . . . an impressive effect that no theater can arrange . . .

[ Review (c) R. Hess, August 8, 2000. ]

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  1. Forbidden Planet
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- Page created September 29-30 & October 1-2 & 4-5, 2000 (using ReviewZoom version 1.17   and CiteGenerator v 1.14) by Russell Hess, Webmaster ( of 'UpSky2' & 'UpSky'.

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