Forbidden Planet - 1956
Starring Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen

Forbidden Planet is the first film in which humans are depicted traveling in a flying saucer of their own construction. It is also the first science fiction film set on an alien world in deep space, far away from the Earth and its solar system. Among Altair-4's many wonders, none is greater or more deadly than the human mind.

Forbidden Planet is the granddaddy of tomorrow, a pioneering work whose ideas and style would be reverse-engineered into many cinematic space voyages to come. Featuring sets of extraordinary scale and the first all-electric musical soundscape in film history, Forbidden planet is in a movie orbit all its own.

Complete Story and Screenshots

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 (Walter Pidgeon), 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 (Leslie Nielsen) bypasses the warning and insists on landing coordinates.

They are met on landing by Robby the Robot (Stuntman Frankie Darro), who takes Adams, Lieutenant Jerry Farman (Jack Kelly), and Lieutenant "Doc" Ostrow (Warren Stevens) 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 (Anne Francis) 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 (Richard Anderson).

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.

Forbidden Planet - FILM INFO

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.

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.

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.

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.

Click to play video

Forbidden Planet Trailer

Forbidden Planet Original MGM Soundtrack

The late Louis Barron and his then-wife Bebe created a unique score for the 1956 MGM film Forbidden Planet. The GNP Crescendo CD release allows one to avoid the problems of noisy vinyl pressings that afflicted the original Planet Records (later changed to Small Planet Records) LP issue from the late '70s.

Made up entirely of electronic tonalities generated by cybernetic circuits feeding back (many in their "death throes"), the music for the movie was as unearthly as anything ever heard in a Hollywood soundtrack up to that time (and for many years after as well), and captured perfectly the film's futuristic extraterrestrial setting and action.


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