Forbidden Planet (1956)

98 or 106 mins | Science fiction | 30 March 1956

Director:

Fred M. Wilcox

Writer:

Cyril Hume

Producer:

Nicholas Nayfack

Cinematographer:

George Folsey

Editor:

Ferris Webster

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Arthur Lonergan

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

A novelization of the movie, also entitled Forbidden Planet (New York, 1956), was written by W. J. Stuart and published following the release of the film. The film's opening cast credits differ in order from the closing credits. Louis Barron and Bebe Barron are credited onscreen as “Louis and Bebe Barron.” Voice-over narration at the beginning of the film explains that humans developed space travel at the end of the 21st-century and began the conquest of outer space on space cruisers.
       A 20 Aug 1954 LAT article stated that director Fred McLeod Wilcox had planned to do extensive research at several university libraries to use current scientific thought and experimentation to shape his portrait of the future. The 12 Mar 1956 HR review of the film noted that the electrical rays sent out from the human brain stemmed from a current reputable theory about the subject and had “already been measured in laboratories.” Forbidden Planet marked the first major science fiction film under production at M-G-M.
       A 5 Apr 1955 HR noted that Forbidden Planet required over 89,000 square feet of sound stage space, making it one of the largest productions for M-G-M. According to a 15 Mar 1955 DV article, the studio chose to restrict access to the sets during construction and production to prevent public exposure to the new innovations to be unveiled in the film. Cinematographer George J. Folsey wrote in an Aug 1955 AmCin article that the production had required two years of research. Among the more difficult and important props used in the film, he listed: the ... More Less

A novelization of the movie, also entitled Forbidden Planet (New York, 1956), was written by W. J. Stuart and published following the release of the film. The film's opening cast credits differ in order from the closing credits. Louis Barron and Bebe Barron are credited onscreen as “Louis and Bebe Barron.” Voice-over narration at the beginning of the film explains that humans developed space travel at the end of the 21st-century and began the conquest of outer space on space cruisers.
       A 20 Aug 1954 LAT article stated that director Fred McLeod Wilcox had planned to do extensive research at several university libraries to use current scientific thought and experimentation to shape his portrait of the future. The 12 Mar 1956 HR review of the film noted that the electrical rays sent out from the human brain stemmed from a current reputable theory about the subject and had “already been measured in laboratories.” Forbidden Planet marked the first major science fiction film under production at M-G-M.
       A 5 Apr 1955 HR noted that Forbidden Planet required over 89,000 square feet of sound stage space, making it one of the largest productions for M-G-M. According to a 15 Mar 1955 DV article, the studio chose to restrict access to the sets during construction and production to prevent public exposure to the new innovations to be unveiled in the film. Cinematographer George J. Folsey wrote in an Aug 1955 AmCin article that the production had required two years of research. Among the more difficult and important props used in the film, he listed: the atomic cannon, the space Jeep, an electro-magnetic tractor and Robby, the robot. Several of the stages, including the Krell laboratory and the spaceship's interior, required extensive electrical wiring and control panels to make gadgets, meters and controls appear realistic. In addition, Folsey stated that light problems occurred repeatedly through the filming because of the number of reflective surfaces in the sets. Particularly, he suggested that the lighting effects to imply the body of the invisible "id monster" as it approached the ship were the most difficult. Folsey stated that he shot the sequences from a height of ten feet, as if seen from the monster's eyes, and used shadowing and color effects to produce the body’s presence.
       The onscreen credits read "and introducing Robby the Robot," but do not list the actor playing the role of Robby. Marvin Miller provided Robby’s speaking voice. Although an 18 Apr 1955 HR “Rambling Reporter” column stated that Frankie Darro was to act as the robot, modern sources added that Frankie Carpenter replaced Darro in the production. Robby appeared again in the M-G-M 1957 film The Invisible Boy (see entry). An 11 Mar 1955 HR news item stated that actors Steve Forrest and John Ericson were suspended from M-G-M after turning down roles in the film.
       A 26 Feb 1956 LAT article noted that composers Bebe and Louis Barron manipulated electronic circuits to create the "electronic tonalities" that not only provided sound for the more scientific and futuristic gadgets and beings in the film, but also provided the musical score. A modern source claimed that the rough cut of the picture by film editor Ferris Webster received rave reviews after initial previews, so M-G-M decided to leave the film in this version and refused Webster's requests to make a finished cut of the film. A modern source also added that Joshua Meador, a Disney animator who rarely worked on outside projects, created, in addition to other animations, the "id monster," fence and lightning effects and ray bolts.        Forbidden Planet has been ranked as one of the seminal 1950s science fiction films by many modern critics and was nominated for an Academy Award for Special Effects, but lost to The Ten Commandments . The film marked Leslie Nielsen's motion picture debut.
       Although several modern sources indicated that Forbidden Planet was a remake of William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest , there are only a few similarities. For example, in The Tempest , Prospero and his daughter Miranda have been isolated on an island for twelve years. Prospero causes a “tempest” to wreck a passing ship containing his relatives. Miranda is smitten with one of the surviving passengers, Ferdinand, the only man she has seen besides her father and his servant. The film's plot then diverges greatly from that of the play: In the play, the malicious servant conspires with shipwreck survivors to kill Prospero, while Prospero accepts Ferdinand as his daughter’s fiancée. When murder is averted, Prospero safely returns to the mainland with his daughter and new son-in-law. In Forbidden Planet, Morbius remains behind and die to secure his daughter’s future on a new world.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Aug 55
pp. 460-61, 482-84.
Box Office
17 Mar 1956.
---
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1955
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
12 Mar 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
15 Mar 56
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1955
pp. 2-3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1955
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1955
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 1955
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 56
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
20 Aug 1954.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Feb 1956.
---
Motion Picture Daily
15 Mar 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 Mar 56
p. 818.
New York Times
4 May 56
p. 21.
New York Times
6 May 1956.
---
New Yorker
12 May 1956.
---
Time
2 Jul 1956.
---
Variety
14 Mar 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Based on a story by
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Anne Francis' cost
Men's cost
MUSIC
Electronic tonalities by
Electronic tonalities by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
through courtesy of Walt Disney Productions
MAKEUP
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 March 1956
Production Date:
18 April--late May 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 February 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6177
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Eastman Color
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
98 or 106
Length(in feet):
8,843
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17605
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Able to travel at speeds far exceeding the speed of light, humans, by the year 2200, are involved in the conquest of deep space. In United Planets space cruiser C57D, Commander Adams and his all male crew approach the distant star Altair-4 to search for survivors from the spaceship Bellerophon, which landed there twenty years earlier. Receiving radio contact from the star, Adams soon learns that Dr. Edward Morbius, a philologist on the Bellerophon mission, still remains but insists that he needs no assistance and warns Adams that harm may come to the C57D crew if they interfere. Adams finally secures landing coordinates and lands the spaceship on Altair-4, a strange, barren land with a green sky and an atmosphere suitable for human life. Within minutes, a robot named Robby approaches on a gliding transporter and takes Adams, Lt. �Doc� Ostrow and Lt. Farman to Morbius� house. The reclusive Morbius invites them to eat a lunch Robby has �cooked� for them and demonstrates that Robby, his own creation, can insert food in a small aperture, where a built-in chemical lab replicates it to perfection. Also the house servant and guard, Robby has a built-in safety directive that prevents him from hurting humans. When asked about the earlier mission, Morbius explains that all others succumbed to a terrible planetary force that ripped them from limb to limb. Only his wife and he were immune because of their special love of the planet, however, his wife died several months later. Suddenly, Altaira, Morbius� daughter, enters, and having never seen any other humans besides her father, is mystified by the men. Although Morbius realizes that Alta must have more human contact to ... +


Able to travel at speeds far exceeding the speed of light, humans, by the year 2200, are involved in the conquest of deep space. In United Planets space cruiser C57D, Commander Adams and his all male crew approach the distant star Altair-4 to search for survivors from the spaceship Bellerophon, which landed there twenty years earlier. Receiving radio contact from the star, Adams soon learns that Dr. Edward Morbius, a philologist on the Bellerophon mission, still remains but insists that he needs no assistance and warns Adams that harm may come to the C57D crew if they interfere. Adams finally secures landing coordinates and lands the spaceship on Altair-4, a strange, barren land with a green sky and an atmosphere suitable for human life. Within minutes, a robot named Robby approaches on a gliding transporter and takes Adams, Lt. �Doc� Ostrow and Lt. Farman to Morbius� house. The reclusive Morbius invites them to eat a lunch Robby has �cooked� for them and demonstrates that Robby, his own creation, can insert food in a small aperture, where a built-in chemical lab replicates it to perfection. Also the house servant and guard, Robby has a built-in safety directive that prevents him from hurting humans. When asked about the earlier mission, Morbius explains that all others succumbed to a terrible planetary force that ripped them from limb to limb. Only his wife and he were immune because of their special love of the planet, however, his wife died several months later. Suddenly, Altaira, Morbius� daughter, enters, and having never seen any other humans besides her father, is mystified by the men. Although Morbius realizes that Alta must have more human contact to develop properly, he resists exposing her to the men. When Adams informs Morbius that he and his crew must remain for ten days to await new orders from earth, Morbius worries that the force will attack again if they remain. Back at the ship, when Cookie, the cook, secretly asks Robby to help him locate some bourbon, the robot offers to replicate over 60 gallons, causing Cookie to gasp in disbelief and joy. Meanwhile at the house, after Farman suggests to Alta that kissing might be good for her health, the na�ve young woman eagerly submits, but even after several prolonged encounters, she claims to feel no �stimulation.� Soon after, a frustrated Able to travel at speeds far exceeding the speed of light, humans, by the year 2200, are involved in the conquest of deep space. In United Planets space cruiser C57D, Commander Adams and his all male crew approach the distant star Altair-4 to search for survivors from the spaceship Bellerophon, which landed there twenty years earlier. Receiving radio contact from the star, Adams soon learns that Dr. Edward Morbius, a philologist on the Bellerophon mission, still remains but insists that he needs no assistance and warns Adams that harm may come to the C57D crew if they interfere. Adams finally secures landing coordinates and lands the spaceship on Altair-4, a strange, barren land with a green sky and an atmosphere suitable for human life. Within minutes, a robot named Robby approaches on a gliding transporter and takes Adams, Lt. “Doc” Ostrow and Lt. Farman to Morbius’s house. The reclusive Morbius invites them to eat a lunch Robby has “cooked” for them and demonstrates that Robby, his own creation, can insert food in a small aperture, where a built-in chemical lab replicates it to perfection. Also the house servant and guard, Robby has a built-in safety directive that prevents him from hurting humans. When asked about the earlier mission, Morbius explains that all others succumbed to a terrible planetary force that ripped them from limb to limb. Only his wife and he were immune because of their special love of the planet, however, his wife died several months later. Suddenly, Altaira, Morbius’s daughter, enters, and having never seen any other humans besides her father, is mystified by the men. Although Morbius realizes that Alta must have more human contact to develop properly, he resists exposing her to the men. When Adams informs Morbius that he and his crew must remain for ten days to await new orders from earth, Morbius worries that the force will attack again if they remain. Back at the ship, Cookie, the cook, secretly asks Robby to help him locate some bourbon, and the robot offers to replicate over 60 gallons, causing Cookie to gasp in disbelief and joy. Meanwhile at the house, Farman suggests to Alta that kissing might be good for her health, and the naïve young woman eagerly submits. After several prolonged encounters, however, she claims to feel no “stimulation.” Soon after, a frustrated Adams interrupts the flirtation and demands that Alta refrain from wearing seducive clothing that tempt his men. Later that night, an invisible force enters the ship, sabotaging valuable equipment while the crew sleeps. Soon after, Adams learns from onboard engineer Quinn that they must unship the main drive to get sufficient power to repair the cruiser. The next morning, as Adams and Doc await Morbius at the house, Adams finds Alta swimming nude in a nearby pool. She quickly dresses into her new “eye proof” attire. Despite Alta’s attempts to concede to his earlier wishes, she unwittingly seduces the commander, but the romantic moment is interrupted when Alta’s pet tiger suddenly attacks. As Adams is forced to disintegrate the beast with his blaster gun, both he and Alta cannot understand the tiger’s sudden change of behavior. Later, Adams and Doc enter Morbius’s study, where the scientist appears from behind a secret panel and guides the men into an immense network of underground rooms. Morbius explains the chambers are the remains of an advanced civilization known as the Krells. Centuries ahead of humans in terms of technological and scientific development, the Krells perished in a catastrophe 2,000 centuries ago, before humans existed. Once inside the Krell main laboratory, Morbius introduces the men to the "plastic educator," a machine the Krell used to test their mental skills and which Morbius now uses to increase his intelligence in order to understand the Krell’s complex civilization. Through years of careful study, Morbius has discovered the Krells were devoted to creating a self-maintaining and infinite power source drawing from Altair-4’s core to free themselves from any "physical instrumentalities.” Meanwhile, Cookie leaves the ship to secretly meet with Robby and pick up over 480 pints of bourbon. The monster shorts the ship’s protective fence, enters the craft, and kills Quinn, leaving his footprints behind. Back at the house, Adams informs Morbius that the United Planetary front must take over the Krell investigation. He learns of the attack by radio and returns to the ship with Doc. After making a model of the footprints, they assess that creature is a giant biped monster with sloth-like claws. At first suspecting Robby was involved in the destructive plot, Adams questions Cookie, who gives Robby an alibi by admitting that he was drinking with the robot at the time of the attack. When Morbius tells Adams that he has a “visualization” of more destruction, Adams suspects the scientist somehow controls the attacks. That night when radar picks up the invisible monster, the crew fire atomic power weapons, which produce an outline of an enormous roaring beast which kills several men. Back at the house, Alta, awakened by a nightmare about the monster, rushes into the lab. As she wakes her sleeping father, dozens of gauges chaotically register a sudden surge in the power supply. The gauges slowly quiet while the monster simultaneously halts its attack at the ship. Later, Doc deduces the monster must be made of nuclear material in order to regenerate and suggests they abandon the mission immediately, but Adams wants to first retrieve Alta and receive an intelligence boost from the plastic educator. Arriving at the house, Adams envelops Alta in his arms while Doc secretly slips away to the plastic educator. When Robby returns with the half-conscious Doc in his arms minutes later, the dying man tells Adams that the Krell were very close to living without "physical instrumentation," but forgot about the “monsters from the id.” When Morbius suddenly appears and calls Adams a fool, Alta finally recognizes her father’s hatred for the outside world and decides to leave with the commander. Adams deduces that the Krells planned to control the civilization centered around a machine enabling them to create matter anywhere on the planet by mere thought; however, the Krells forgot that their subconscious hatred and lust for destruction would also destroy the civilization. As Morbius retorts that his own mind cannot be creating the monster, another invisible beast punctures the house’s shuttered metals walls. Morbius orders Robby to kill the beast, but the robot malfunctions, unable to harm humans, even the beast created from a human mind. As the group hides behind the metal door of the underground laboratory, Adams tells Morbius that the plastic educator, far from helping him understand Krell machinery, has made his subconscious able to manipulate it. He goes on to explain that when Morbius’s twenty comrades voted to return to earth, Morbius’s rage sent a secret “id” to kill them, which will now kill his daughter for defying him. When Alta begs her father to stop the beast as it melts through the door, Morbius finally admits that Adams’s conclusions must be true and yells for the monster to die. The raging beast quiets and power gauges shut down. A dying Morbius orders Adams to throw a switch, which sets in motion the irreversible destruction of Altair within twenty-four hours. Hours after taking off in their spaceship, Adams, Alta, Robby and the crew watch on a monitor as Altair explodes in a blinding blue light. With Alta in his arms, Adams predicts that humans will come to develop technology as advanced as that of the Krells and that her father's name will stand like a "beacon in the galaxy" to remind them that they are not “Gods.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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