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Possibly the best SF movie ever made.
Forbidden Planet: Special Anniversary Edition


This DVD arrived yesterday, and the film itself went straight into the machine for viewing. The transfer is excellent (particularly the sound), though I suspect the original colours were more saturated (though it is Eastmancolor, not Technicolor.)

This is a truly great SF movie, and still holds the attention from beginning to end, while the Krell city sequences are the essence of sensawonder. The technobabble is no better and no worse than that found in many modern SF and TV movies – certainly better than, say Dr Who or Star Trek: Voyager.

Speaking of Trek, the debt owed by all parts of the franchise to Forbidden Planet is one of the things that leaps out of the screen. Even the transporter effects are foreshadowed by similar-looking devices used to protect the crew from the effects of hyperspace. Though the biggest debt is owed by Trek, everything from Dr Who to The Matrix references this movie – or steals from it, if you prefer.

A few notes on what struck me again last night:

Though it owes its plot to a fantasy (The Tempest), it is very much an SF movie. There is an explanation for everything (including such apparent anomalies as the deer and the tiger) worked through by the writers. Even Altaira's power over the beasts (and her loss of it with her heart) has a SFnal explanation – if not one actually shown in the movie... but more of that later.

While we're talking about Altaira, and we need to remember that this is a tiny bit too early for us to have a liberated woman here, she may be emotionally childlike (as Miranda is), but she is clever, logical, brave and intensely moral. No, "Oh, Daddy, I can't believe that of you," for her. She understands immediately, and makes her choices at once. Above all, she is not a screamer. As a teenager, I didn't like her much, but over the years I have come to think much more highly of her.

The movie has a great sense of humour – something else that Classic Trek picked up and ran with. It never negates the menace, though.

Those grey uniforms now look rather good – and certainly more comfortable than a few others we could mention.

There are no villains in this movie. Morbius is a highly moral man. The Krell were, apparently, a deeply moral race. The danger comes from emotions he and they (and we) hide from our conscious minds or control with them. In fact, the message of Forbidden Planet is exactly the opposite of Star Wars – do not trust your feelings! This is Enlightenment thinking rather than modern New Age hogwash. What makes us human is our ability to reason, to suspect and restrain our deepest, oldest plains-ape emotions.

I wish people had taken that message into later movies and TV shows, rather than the galaxy-spanning government, smart-ass robots, hyperdrives and very short skirts.

This edition comes with a slew of documentaries, another whole (children's) movie featuring Robbie, an episode of The Thin Man also featuring Robbie, contemporary SF trailers and (astonishingly) deleted scenes. It is in the deleted scenes that Altaira's power over the animals is explained – though it was right to cut them. They are awkward and don't really work. Indeed, this is true of most of the deleted scenes, though I'm sorry to lose the interchange on the bridge about putting the ship too damn close to the sun, which is funny and illuminates character. The one with the command crew and Robbie on board his vehicle – with him talking 'over his shoulder' to them as they hurtle along – is funny for other reasons – and no director worth his salt would have kept it.

Everyone should own this movie. Go and buy it.
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I'm with you. This is truly a great movie and in the past, The Monster from The Id got me running behind the sofa. This is also one of the few times I've seen Leslie Neilsen playing a straight role on the big screen!

I'll go along with all of this except the criticism of 'very short skirts'.

I am a fan of very short skirts and I will not have a word said against them, keep up the very short skirts is my advice to all SF movie and TV makers if you want my approval.

In fact, we supporters could use that as our slogan
"Up the skirts!" has a certain ring to it.

PS Wisecracking robots are inevitable. The people who design AI will design them that way sure as apples is apples. I've already seen this done in real application software. And you can bet if I was designing lift speech software I would have designed in phrases like; "Cable snapped, lift falling, kiss your arse goodbye."

I LOVE Forbidden Planet! I do however like some films that question our complete reliance on logic over emotion (in fact, there have been a couple of theorists asserting interesting ideas about all logic being emotion), but I definitely don't count Star Wars amongst them. I liked Star Wars the first time through (I had plenty of popcorn). FP is a keeper and re-watcher.

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