Sunday, March 04, 2007

Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet, one of the truly great science fiction classics, was my dvd choice, last week.

Brief synopsis: MGM's first big-budget science fiction film, Forbidden Planet, combined state-of-the-art special effects with a storyline based on Shakespeare's The Tempest. In the 23rd century, Cmdr. J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) guides United Planets cruiser C-57-D on a rescue mission to faraway planet Altair-4. Twenty years earlier, Earth ship Bellerophon disappeared while en route to Altair-4. Only the ship's philologist, Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), survived; in the intervening decades, Morbius has created an Edenlike world of his own, for the benefit of himself and his nubile young daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis). His private paradise is zealously guarded by Robby the Robot, a piece of technology far in advance of anything on Earth. When Adams and his crew land on Altair-4, Morbius announces that he has no intention of being rescued and returned to Earth. When Adams attempts to contact home base, he finds that his radio equipment has been smashed by some unseen force. Holding Morbius responsible, Adams confronts the scientist, who decides to tell all. At one time, according to Morbius, Altair-4 was populated by the Krel, a wise, intellectually superior race. Using leftover Krel technology, Morbius has doubled his intellect and gained the ability to shape a new world to his own specifications. Forbidden Planet was a big influence on future sci-fi outer-space efforts, especially Star Trek. The letterboxed video version is the closest to the original. All Movie Guide

This one is easy. If you're a fan of sci-fi, then you'll enjoy this movie regardless of when it was made. In fact, Id really be surprised to find a sci-fi fan who hasn't seen this movie, but if you have missed this film, for whatever reasons, this new 50th anniversary edition release is the perfect opportunity to play catch-up. I've always felt that this was a very important movie because it laid the groundwork for so many future movies and television series; Star Trek being the most obvious. By taking a serious storyline, provided by Shakespeare, and investing extra time, money and creativity into the special effects (think Star Wars), an excellent movie was crafted that also happened to be science fiction rather than having a movie that was only science fiction for the sake of being science fiction.

Additionally, Forbidden Planet gave us one of the most recognizable sci-fi icons (for geeks like me) of all time: Robby the Robot. Robby was the predecessor and inspiration for the robot of Lost in Space known only as, Robot. Ironically, Robby appeared in two episodes of Lost in Space, appearing in one as an evil robot with which the Robinson's Robot had to battle in order to protect them. Over the years, Robby the Robot has appeared regularly in productions ranging from the original Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Banana Splits (hi Chris), Columbo, Mork and Mindy, and the films Gremlins and Earth Girls are Easy, just to name a few.

And I would be remiss if I failed to mention how cool it is seeing Leslie Nielsen portray such an excellent predecessor to Captain James T. Kirk. It's really easy to forget that Nielsen can play a straight role as well as he can a comedic one.

Lastly, this film is one of a very select few that, every few years, when it gets mentioned in terms of a 'remake', fans, writers, and directors alike all rally against such a notion because it is generally believed that, even with the best intentions, a remake could not justly represent and would inadvertently diminish the importance and quality of the original.


Chris said...

You do know that Mr Nielsen is Canadian right?

Haven't seen this one. But a few of my favorite Sci-Fi flicks are: The Day The Earth Stood (1951) Still & Silent Running (1972).

The first has a strong anti-war message and the second has an environmental message. Two things I feel very strongly about.

Lastly I give you Gattaca (199&7). This one deals with genetic descrimination - pretty heavey complex subject matter but a beautiful film. It's one of my top 10.

John Taylor said...

hi chris,
No, I didn't know Mr Nielsen was Canadian - thanks for that. I did know that Collin Mockery was Canadian - if that counts for anything.

And thanks for the movies - I have not seen Gattaca - but will now - and I've always been a fan of Bruce Dern and Silent Running (Huey, Dewey, and Louie rock!) and The Day the Earth Stood Still is on my top 10 list.