Forbidden Planet (film, 2007)


This is one of the all time great SF movies. My review of it was originally published in Death Ray 2, in 2007.

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They don't make them like this any more.

FILM 5 stars EXTRAS 5 stars

1956 / 98 mins / £16.99 / PG / 18 June

Director: Fred M Wilcox

Writers: Cyril Hume and Irving Block

Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis

Sumptuous retelling of The Tempest – in space, with robots. What more do you want?

The second absolute classic out this month is Forbidden Planet. In fact, it is only the previous unavailability of Things to Come, and its impact on all media of the genre, that has pushed this excellent two disc set of Forbidden Planet out of this month’s lead DVD review spot.

Based loosely on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Forbidden Planet sees the crew of spaceship C-57D come to investigate the disappearance of a previous scientific expedition to the planet of Altair IV. The role of Prospero in this island in space is taken by Dr Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), who, alone with his daughter Altara (Anne Francis) survived the mysterious creature that slew the rest of this first expedition. Morbius reluctantly begins to reveal the wonders of the world to the newly arrived crew, but then the creature attacks once more…

Forbidden Planet is an amazing film, its literate and thoughtful script complemented by its ground-breaking special effects, which gained the film an Oscar nomination. Though it’s dated here and there (no computers, as is usual for films made before the 1960s, and a slight, clichéd love story), it is full of fantastic ideas and visual spectacle. The film has also been immensely influential on TV and film science fiction – the similarities of Star Trek’s first pilot The Cage to the film are pronounced – and it gave us one of SF’s best loved characters; Robbie the Robot. This is one for the collection.

Extras The two discs are crammed with extra material, which includes a whole other film – The Invisible Boy. There’s a documentary on 50s science fiction, featuring George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, a second documentary on Forbidden Planet, this one featuring Joe Dante, John Carpenter, Alan Dean Foster, and star Leslie Nielsen, a third doc about Robbie, deleted scenes, lost footage (some beautiful, unused planetary special effects), excerpts from promotional programmes, trailers and more. All in all, over three and a half hours of content and all of it, unusually, interesting.

Did you know…?

Forbidden Planet was the first film that showed humans operating flying saucers of their own. Prior to this, disc-shaped craft had been the exclusive preserve of the alien.

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