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Film Details

Directed by: Fred Mcleod Wilcox

Produced: 1956

Countries & Regions: United States

Blu-ray Details

Certificate: PG

Studio: Warner Home Video

Length: 98 mins

Format: Blu-ray

Released: 4 October 2010

Cat No: 1000158211

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Forbidden Planet

Cast: Walter Pidgeon , Leslie Nielsen , Anne Francis , Earl Holliman , Richard Anderson , George Wallace , Warren Stevens , Jack Kelly , Bob Dix , Jimmie Thompson

Blu-ray
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Altair-4 is a planet populated only by the scientist Morbeus (Walter Pidgeon), his daughter (Anne Francis) and a droid, Robby the Robot.... Read More

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Altair-4 is a planet populated only by the scientist Morbeus (Walter Pidgeon), his daughter (Anne Francis) and a droid, Robby the Robot. Morbeus’ obsession with discovering the secrets of the underground cities of Krel and its long-dead inhabitants have led him to kill his fellow explorers. However, his research is once again threatened with the arrival of another expedition, whose leader (Leslie Nielson) is not deterred by Morbeus’ efforts to keep him away from either his adopted home or his daughter. This sci-fi reworking of Shakespeare’s ’The Tempest’ gained an Oscar nomination for its special effects and has since accrued cult status.

The Tempest? Jarman?! No. But this is THE archetype for Star Trek. Good thing or bad thing? Your choice. But the fact remains that Gene Roddenberry was mightily impressed by this movie. All other comparisons are superfluous. Sorry. A.

Loosely based on The Tempest, Forbidden Planet takes us to the 2200s and the distant planet Altair IV. A rescue mission led by Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen) is investigating the disappearance of an expedition that set out 20 years earlier. The only survivors are Dr Morbius (a delightfully hammy Walter Pidgeon), his young daughter and tales of a mysterious force that ripped the expedition apart one by one. This is an acknowledged classic of the sci-fi genre, using its long-dead alien civilisation to make some pertinent points regarding human nature.

Made in 1956, this is the pinnacle of futurist sci-fi, before the genre was taken over by the realists. In EASTMAN COLOUR trumpets the opening credits and the film unfolds in a garish yet astonishing mix of reds, yellows, greens and blues. The unique soundtrack is totally, utterly alien, carefully constructed bleeps and whistles by Louis and Bebe Barron. The Musicians’ Union objected so much, they only received credits for Electronic Tonalities.

However, the true stars of the show are Robbie the Robot and the infamous ‘Monster From The Id’. The charismatic robot cost $125,000 and was one of the most expensive props ever made at the time. He went on to become a TV star in his own right, cameo-ing in The Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, and notably in Lost In Space, the Robinson’s own Robot also being designed by Robert Kinoshita. The monster haunted many a child’s dream, invisible most of the time apart from a short sequence (beautifully animated by Joshua Meador, on loan from Disney) when caught in the laser-trap.

So, why exactly is it that Forbidden Planet does not often get mentioned when people are asked to name the greatest Science Fiction movies? Solaris, 2001, Blade Runner – even Silent Running is more likely to come up before Forbidden Planet. This film has suffered because of its great influence on what came after. Gene Roddenberry has always acknowledged the debt owed by Star Trek. The suits, the spaceship and the alien landscapes all cribbed wholesale. But make no mistake, Forbidden Planet is one of the greats.

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