Friday, 27 February 2015

Forbidden Planet (1956)

A 1950s SF Film Masterpiece

Directed by Fred M. Wilcox
Produced by Nicholas Nayfack
Screenplay by Cyril Hume
Story by Irving Block, Allen Adler
Narrated by Les Tremayne
Music by Louis and Bebe Barron
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Edited by Ferris Webster
Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Running time: 98 minutes
Budget: $1,968,000
Box office: $2,765,000


Walter Pidgeon: Dr. Morbius
Anne Francis: Altaira Morbius
Leslie Nielsen: Commander Adams
Warren Stevens: Lt. 'Doc' Ostrow
Jack Kelly: Lt. Farman
Richard Anderson: Chief Quinn
Earl Holliman: Cook
Robby the Robot
George Wallace: Bosun
Robert Dix: Crewman Grey
Jimmy Thompson: Crewman Youngerford
James Drury: Crewman Strong
Harry Harvey Jr.: Crewman Randall
Roger McGee: Crewman Lindstrom 
Peter Miller: Crewman Moran


Commander Adams and his crew investigate a planet thought to be inhabited by scientists: survivors from the Bellerophon expedition 20 years earlier. 

They soon discover that…. 

A hideous creature roams the planet. 

All but two of the survivors have been killed by the creature! 
A mystery waits to be solved….. 

How is it that Dr. Morbius and his daughter Altaira have survived? 
What discovery has Morbius made? 
Why won’t Morbius share his discovery - or his daughter - with anyone?

(Spoilers follow)

“O brave new world, 

That has such people in't!” 
(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

From the opening credits we are transported to a future time as our ears are assailed by futuristic electronic music and our vision is filled with a star-spangled vista.

The narrator informs us that by the late 22nd Century the human race has reached the outer planets and has developed the hyper drive. It appears to be the best of all possible times, ushering in the “the conquest and colonization of deep space.”

Symbolizing this age of technological optimism, we have United Planet cruiser C57D just a year out from Earth base on the way to the planet Altair 4 on a special mission: to look for survivors from the Bellerophon expedition 20 years earlier.

Instead of fearfully peering over their shoulders and upward for flying saucers, hostile aliens, bug-eyed monsters and communists, it is human beings in flying saucers of their own making who are venturing out beyond the confines of their own immediate stellar neighbourhood.

Interstellar space flight is portrayed as merely another aspect of life in the future where we have the sense that this crew has explored many of the far reaches of deep space. Instead of the usual rockets being used for space travel, we instead see a flying saucer complete with artificial gravity and hyper-drive technology being used by human beings who appear to be military professionals instead of the usual space adventurer-scientists.

Commander J.J Adams orders the crew to the deceleration booths (DC stations) as the ship drops from light speed to “.3896 of light speed.” While watching this scene, one cannot help but marvel at the fact that this film was made a good ten years before “Star Trek” (with its Federation) and two decades before “Star Wars!”

The scene involving the approach to and orbit of Altair 4 encompasses the varied views concerning the value of humanity’s presence in space. Firstly, we know that Altair 4 is an “earth-type planet.” Locating earth-type planets is one of the prime objectives of current exo-planetary investigation and research.

On approach to the planet, a comment is made by one of the crew that the “Lord sure makes some beautiful worlds.” Surely such wonder and marvel at the infinite variety and combinations of worlds, star systems, matter, elements, forms of energy and eventually life forms would have to be a motivating force behind humanity’s presence in and exploration of space.

Of course, as one of the film’s frequent comic tension lifters, we have the grounding comment of the ship’s cook who is more concerned about there being “no beer, no women (and) no pool parlours.” What might be considered to be of importance to certain intellectual, scientific, political and other leaders may not be high on the list of priorities of ordinary citizens who may feel that there are enough problems here on Earth to contend and occupy ourselves with. Besides, why trade what do have and appreciate already for a life “out there” and all its uncertainties. Candidates for one-way trips to Mars-be warned!

The mystery for the crew of United Planets cruiser C57D begins as they orbit the planet Altair 4 looking for signs of life. Suddenly their ship is scanned by radar emanating from an area some 20 miles square. Morbius contacts the ship and relays to the crew some quite unfriendly-sounding comments;

“Your best procedure is to turn back at once.”
“I’ll not be answerable for your safety or your crew.”

It is little wonder then that one of the crew observes that there’s “something funny down there, skipper.” This film will not just be a piece of sci-fi eye candy. It will involve us in a mystery that needs to be solved!

“Be not afeared; the isle is full of noises, 

Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not”

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

After Morbius reluctantly gives the pilot landing coordinates, the ship lands and soon a high speed dust cloud approaches the ship. It turns out to be a vehicle, being driven by a robot called Robby. This robot is not your crush, kill and destroy variety of robot we have come to expect. Instead, Robby represents that aspect of technology that fits seamlessly and usefully into people’s lives.

Robby is non-threatening and is rather user-friendly. He welcomes the crew to Altair 4 and invites them to Morbius’ residence. In reference to the oxygen content of the planet, he humorously responds with, “I rarely use it myself, Sir. It promotes rust.”

“Now I will believe 
that there are unicorns” 

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

At the residence Adams, Farman and Doc Ostrow are greeted by Morbius and sit down to a meal prepared by Robby’s food synthesizer which can reproduce identical molecules. This sounds like the food replicators used later in Star Trek. How much of our food and other resource problems could be solved if we could replicate and arrange organic and inorganic molecules in whatever way we wished! If it can be imagined it can be done. Although nor the same thing, such developments as current 3D printing technology are starting to give us a glimpse of what might be possible in the future.

Adams, Farman and Doc Ostrow are then given a demonstration of Robby’s “selfless obedience” when “he” is ordered by Morbius to place his arm in the disposal unit. Morbius uses this demonstration to highlight the fact that Robby is merely a technological “tool” that is under total human control.

Morbius next shows the three visitors Robby’s “built in safety factor.” He gives Robby a blaster with orders to shoot Adams. Robby cannot carry out the command and goes into a mechanical mind lock, whereby he is “locked in a sub-electronic dilemma” unable to resolve the conflict between the order he has been given and his programming. Robby will remain disabled or be destroyed until the order is changed. This is the robot’s version of a human being’s moral and ethical dilemma and will be something that will need to be considered as we develop more artificial and self-aware forms of intelligence.

When questioned about Robby, Morbius evasively answers that he simply “tinkered him together” in his spare time, a feat beyond even the combined sciences of Earth! Another layer is added to the mystery….

As Morbius shows the men the defence system of the house which involves a series of sensor activated steel shutters, one cannot help think about how more and more of us tend to live lives behind shutters either for security, noise reduction or climate control reasons. There always seems to be something “out there” we wish ourselves to be shielded from.

A similar desire appears to be held by Morbius who admits that the Belleraphon crew is dead and that he and his wife were the only original survivors left alive. Morbius explains that many of the crew succumbed to a “dark terrible force” and were “torn literally limb from limb.” The Belleraphon was also vaporised when the final three surviving members tried to take off for Earth. Morbius's wife tragically died months after the others but from natural causes.

Rather ominously and ironically, Morbius admits that he feels that the “creature is lurking close at hand.”

“How many goodly creatures are there here! 
How beauteous mankind is!” 

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

Suddenly, a vision of beauty in the form of a young woman appears. It is Altaira, Morbius’ daughter. Her social isolation and innocence soon become evident through the directness of her comments such as when she addresses Doc and states, “You’re lovely doctor.” It is obvious that she has indeed “never known anyone except her father.”

Farman begins to flirt with Altaira and as he humorously downplays the qualities of both Doc and the commander, Altaira comments to Jerry that “I’m glad you don’t have any fire in your eyes,” totally oblivious to the humour conveyed by her observation.

After Altaira shows the men her ability to control wild animals such as deer and a wild tiger, Adams explains that he will need to check in with Earth for further orders. In order to send a signal much power will be needed resulting in the ship being disabled for up to 10 days. Highlighting both Morbius’ character and the impending danger to the crew, Morbius offers Robby's services in building the communication facility, not due to any altruistic motive, but more from having “no wish to repeat that (digging of graves) experience.”

Cookie is used several times to lighten the tension such as when on the next day the commander instructs the crane operator to pick Cookie up using the magnetic grappler and move him out of the way. Soon after Cookie goes in search of Robby in order to get the robot to synthesize bourbon for him. After downing the remaining contents of Cookie’s bottle and much to Cookie’s consternation, Robby states, “Quiet please. I’m analysing.” This is followed by a burping sound and Robby’s matter of fact statement that he will have 60 gallons ready for him the next morning. Yes, technology does indeed have its uses!

Farman meanwhile shows what it’s like for a fella who has been cooped up for months in a space ship and is suddenly face-to-face with a beautiful young lady wearing a gossamer-like outfit the fabric of which gently caresses the contours of a rather small percentage of her body! What else can he do but roll up his sleeves and launch into a lesson or two on how to kiss and its obvious benefits? The nature of the situation is not exactly appreciated by Altaira due to her naiveté and innocence. It is definitely appreciated by Adams who stomps onto the scene - and is that possibly jealousy we see being brandished about? After gibbering incoherently about “super perfect” specimens and Altair’s inappropriate attire, Adams orders Altair to leave the area. Now he’s done it!

When Altair explains to her father what took place, the scene is set for the manifestation of something ominous and sinister….

“….this thing of darkness” 

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

Later on that very ominous and sinister something slowly advances on the ship, but we know not what it is as it has no form. We can only surmise that it is related to the destruction of the Belleraphon’s crew and therefore we know it only based on what it is capable of doing. Using a combination of rhythmic electronic sound effects and an elevated perspective camera angle, we are taken slowly past the lookout crew toward the ship. Seen from this perspective, the creature appears to be huge and stealthy. The sound of heavy breathing adds to the tension as inside the ship, we see the inner hatch open and some equipment being moved around.

The next morning it is determined that most of the missing and damaged equipment can be replaced except for the Clystron monitor. Adams, accompanied by Doc, go back to Morbius to confront him about what has occurred.

“They are both in either's powers” 

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

Morbius appears to be unavailable, so while waiting for him Adams spends some time outside with Altair and their feelings for each other become apparent. As they kiss, the tiger emerges and launches itself in an attack on Altair, but Adams manages to shoot it. Altair’s unnatural and unhealthy social and developmental upbringing is starkly revealed when she can't understand why the tiger acted as if she was an enemy.

“Your tale, sir, would cure deafness.”
(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

Doc and Commander Adams manage to gain access to Morbius’ office where they discover not Morbius, but instead some strange incomprehensible drawings. At that point Morbius enters through a secret door and voices his displeasure at the men’s uninvited presence in his office. After Adams’ suggestion that Morbius might’ve been behind the attack, Morbius is more forthcoming with his explanations as what has been going on.

“The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve;” 

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

According to Morbius, an “all but divine” race of beings called the Krell inhabited the planet. They were a million years ahead of human kind and had even visited Earth in the past, bringing back various species of Earth’s animals, hence the tiger, deer and other creatures the men saw earlier on. Morbius believes the Krell civilization “disappeared in one night” just as they were about to make their greatest discovery. Now, after 2000 centuries, “absolutely nothing remains above ground.” It’s sobering to think that everything in the universe, no matter how powerful and awe-inspiring, eventually succumbs to the process of entropy!

Morbius takes the men on a tour of the Krell underground installation. He begins by inserting a small capsule-like object into a device which plays a recording made by Krell musicians. Decades after the making of the film we have people popping in CDs and usb sticks containing music files into various kinds of playback devices.

The men are then introduced to Krell metal consisting of densely interlocked molecules that “drink up energy like a sponge.” It would be interesting to know what our friends in the corporate, scientific and military establishments have come up with in terms of new super hard and stress resistant polycrystalline and nanostructured substances!

This is followed by a viewing of a table-top screen which is able to display the “total scientific knowledge of the Krell.” This technology is similar to the smart touch screen table top displays of today that can have business and education applications.

Just as Commander Adams is about to state that what he has seen so far is “too big to evaluate” and therefore should be made available to the appropriate authorities, Doc strategically interrupts him and draws attention to the other equipment.

Morbius next proceeds to show them an education device that can project images formed in the user’s mind. The image that is projected for Morbius is of his daughter, Altaira. This 3D image is much like the holographic images we are familiar with today.

Doc and then Adams try out the intelligence tester but neither man registers as high as Morbius. Morbius (quite accurately?) observes that a “commanding officer doesn’t need brains, just a loud voice.” Morbius explains that the machine can also boost intelligence, as he found out himself the hard way when he was once badly injured but discovered that his IQ had doubled when he recovered.

Mobius further explains that the Krell had the ultimate aim of freeing themselves from dependence on any form of instrumentation. The instruments and equipment they do see around them has no direct wiring (what we would recognize today as being akin to wireless communication technology) and that they can draw on a power supply that is in the order of the “number 10 raised almost to the power of infinity!” With that kind of power and capability and a million year head start, how can one not conceive of a civilisation that can achieve whatever it wants to achieve and go when and wherever it wishes? And in a cosmic blink of an eye, all trace of them is suddenly gone and how would we know they were ever there?

Adams and Doc learn that all the machines on the planet are self-repairing, but a far more mind-blowing and humbling “new scale of scientific values” is about to slap them in the face: a giant 20 mile-in-either-direction ventilation shaft that leads right to the core of the planet. Not only that, but there are also 400 other such shafts, each consisting of 7800 levels. Added to this mind- numbing statistic, there are also 9200 thermal reactors spread throughout the facility’s 8000 cubic miles. The immensity of scale of such a self-maintaining machine would be almost too much for the human psyche to grapple with.

Commander Adam’s, however, does ask Morbius the single most important question: “What’s it all for?” For now his question remains unanswered…..

Despite our presumed intelligence and technological advancements, it is one question few of us ever bother to ask as we construct more and more terabytes and teraflops of reality viewed via innumerable devices’ screens in an ultimate collective selfie.

Back at the ship, the security arrangements have been completed and a force field fence has been erected around the landing area. Soon after, something shorts out the fence but nothing is seen or found by the security team. Suddenly a series of foot prints begin forming and slowly head toward the ship. The metal steps leading up into craft bend and warp under an obviously immense weight as some unseen entity enters the ship. A scream rends the very fabric of the air around the compound as the Chief meets a fate too horrible even to imagine.

Meanwhile back at Morbius’ residence, an argument ensues between Morbius and Adams as to what should be done with the Krell technology and discoveries obtained from it. Morbius contends that only he should be allowed to control the flow of Krell technology back to Earth as he believes that “Man isn’t fit yet to receive such power.” Commander Adams, on the other hand, argues that “no one man can be allowed to monopolize it.” Knowing what we know about human beings, it seems that both men have a valid point.

Adams learns that Chief Quinn has been murdered and returns to the ship where he is later shown by Doc a 37 inch X 19 inch plaster cast of one of the footprints. The mystery deepens when it is realised that the foot that made the imprint “runs counter to every known law of adaptive evolution.” After questioning Cookie, who was with the robot when the Chief was murdered, Adams concludes that the robot was not responsible.

The next day after the funeral for the Chief, and in response to Morbius’ cryptic warning of impending doom for the ship and its crew, Adams strengthens the defences around the ship and tests the weapons. Suddenly the radar station reports some movement in the distance heading slowly toward the ship.

The entity remains unseen despite being fired on by energy weapons that hit “dead on target.” Still the entity continues to move inexorably towards the ship. Suddenly, like a huge red demon expelled from the bowels of Hell. a huge monstrous apparition is outlined in the fence’s force field. The crew continue firing but to no avail and several of their number are quickly dispatched by the monster. What kind of creature is it that “cannot be disintegrated by atomic fission?”

"This is strange. Your father's in some passion 

That works him strangely." 

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

Morbius is awoken from his “passion” upon hearing the screams of Altair who has had a nightmare of the attack on the ship and its crew. More dots are joined in this mystery as we realize that the creature in the force field disappeared right at the moment when Morbius woke up.

Adams and Doc return to Morbius’ residence, intending to evacuate him and his daughter from the planet, as well as break into Morbius’ office and take the brain booster test. Unknown to Adams, Doc manages to sneak into Morbius’ office to take the test.

Robby appears later carrying the injured Doc. Just before he succumbs to his injuries, Doc informs Adams that the Krell succeeded in their great experiment involving a machine with no instrumentality. However they “forgot one thing: monsters from the ID.” In other words, the sub-conscious monsters they would release.

Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality 

The id is the primitive personality component that is present at birth and is made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires.

"I have done nothing but in care of thee, 

thee, my dear one, thee, my daughter," 

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

Morbius sees the dead body of Doc, and callously comments, “let him be buried with the victims of greed and folly.” His daughter reminds him that Doc is dead and refers to him not as “Father” but instead as, ”Morbius” which shows how taken aback she is by Morbius’ inhuman lack of care. Altair feels that she is better off going with Adams and tells her father, “You wanted me to make a choice. You made it for me.”

Morbius is now forced to realize that he is the source of the entity that killed members of his previous expedition and several of Adams’ crew. The Krell machine enabled Morbius to release the beast of his sub-conscious. Creation by mere thought…..

“Hell is empty 

And all the devils are here" 

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

As if on cue, Robby suddenly reports that something is approaching the house. The defensive shields of the house prove to be useless against the creature’s advance. Robby cannot carry out Morbius’ command to destroy the creature since the robot knows as does Adams, “That thing out there is you!”

Adams, Altair and Morbius’ last line of defence is the Krell lab where they seal themselves in behind an indestructible door made of Krell metal. Adams convinces Morbius “We’re all just monsters of our subconscious’ and that he is in fact the monster, and that he is unable to control his subconscious desires.

Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality:

If we cannot immediately satisfy a need, tension results. The id strives to temporarily relieve the tension by creating a mental image via daydreaming, fantasizing, hallucinating, or some other process.

As the creature begins to burn through the door, Morbius finally understands that it is he that could endanger the life of his own daughter.

“He that dies pays all debts”

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

As the creature breaks through the barrier of the door, Morbius advances in its path and denies its existence causing the creature to disappear but leaving Morbius close to death. Before Morbius dies, he instructs Adams to shift a self-destruct lever that will trigger the reactors of the Krell machine to explode. Altair, Adams and his crew will only have 24 hours to get as far away from the planet as possible.

“Our revels now are ended” 

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

The next day on board the ship Altair and Adams watch as the planet explodes and is destroyed. Adams assures Altair that even after a million years of tragedy and triumph, “Your father’s name will shine again like a beacon.”

In the meantime, however, we all will just have to satisfy ourselves with the thought that…

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” 

(Shakespeare’s, The Tempest)

Points Of Interest

There are many reasons as to why Forbidden Planet stands out as an intelligent sci-fi film adventure. Among them is the way important themes and issues are dealt with. Far from acting merely as an allegory for the threat of communism, the film sends a powerful message about the destructive power of technology, particularly at a time when the threat of nuclear war and technology was uppermost in many people’s minds.

Forbidden Planet also explores in an intelligent manner the notion of regardless of how much humanity progresses in evolutionary terms and no matter how advanced our technology becomes, we can never really escape or ignore our darker inner primal instincts.

The film also conveys the message that advanced technology and knowledge cannot be pursued without responsibility and the necessary wisdom of how to use that advanced technology. The film uses the example of the Morbius character to remind us of what can happen when technology is allowed to increase unabated, to the point where human beings can no longer control it. Ironically, it was Dr. Morbius who understood the likely consequences of an unchecked advancement of technology by refusing to allow mankind unfettered access to the Krell's technology. Instead, he insisted that he would parcel out portions of that technology as he saw fit, in order to prevent humanity from destroying itself.

The real genius of Forbidden Planet is how it manages to combine elements of Shakespeare's The Tempest, and Freudian psychology within the framework of a sci-fi mystery.

Reference is made in the film to Jung's theory on the collective unconscious and it sets about intelligently exploring the idea of a destructive power within the subconscious.

“Collective unconscious” is a term coined by Carl Jung which according to him is a part of the unconscious mind, whereby “in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature … there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited…..”

The plot, characters and setting of Forbidden Planet contain some significant story analogues to William Shakespeare's, The Tempest. However, the film’s plot does diverge significantly from that of the play.

Comparison of Shakespeare's Tempest and Forbidden Planet


Prospero and his daughter Miranda have been isolated on a island for twelve years,

Prospero causes a "tempest" to wreck a passing ship.

Miranda is smitten with one of the surviving passengers,

The entry of outsiders (sailors) into this utopia causes upheaval and eventual destruction when the outsider’s leader falls in love with Prospero's daughter.

Ferdinand is the only man Miranda has seen besides her father and his servant.

Prospero seeks to control the elements through 'magic.'

Forbidden Planet

Morbius, the scientist in Forbidden Planet and his daughter are isolated on a planet, 

The entry of a space crew on a routine mission into this utopia causes upheaval and eventual destruction when the outsider’s leader falls in love with Morbius' daughter.

Adams (and crew) are the only men Altaire has seen apart from her father.

Morbius seeks to control the world around him through (modern magic) advanced alien technology.

Forbidden Planet’s screenplay by Irving Block and Allen Adler, written in 1952, was originally titled Fatal Planet. The title, Forbidden Planet, was selected instead for its presumed greater box-office appeal.

The electric passenger vehicle driven between the ship and Morbius’ residence by Robby and the tractor-crane were both constructed especially for the film.

Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry has mentioned that Forbidden Planet was one of his inspirations for his Star Trek series. Both the B9 robot and the set of the spaceship Jupiter 2 in the TV series Lost in Space were inspired by Forbidden Planet and designed by Robert Kinoshita, creator of Robby the Robot.

Forbidden Planet was shot entirely indoors. Altair 4 exterior scenes were depicted using sets, visual effects and matte paintings. A full-size mock-up of ¾ of the C-57D starship was constructed to suggest its full width of 170 ft (51 m). The ship was surrounded by a huge, painted cyclorama depicting the desert landscape of Altair 4. Matte art was used brilliantly to create a sense of mind-numbing vastness of scale of the Krell scientific complex as the flea-sized characters make their way along the passageways, guided by Dr. Morbius. Similar scenes were shown in some episodes of the TV series Time Tunnel.

The film was an early pioneer in the use of electronic music and was the first to use a completely electronic musical score by Louis and Bebe Barron. Louis Barron constructed his own electronic circuits (a "ring modulator") that he used to generate the score's electronic sounds. The Barrons manipulated pre-recorded basic sounds by adding other effects, such as reverberation and delay, as well as reversing or changing the speeds of certain sounds. And yet it was not until 1964 that the Moog synthesizer was invented!

The film’s special effects were nominated for an Academy Award. Even today we can still be amazed at just how realistic the battle scenes with the unseen force seem to be. The animations involving the attack of the "Id Monster", were created by the veteran animator Joshua Meador who was lent out to MGM by Walt Disney Pictures.

The performances of the cast were very solid and they played characters we can relate to and care about:

Leslie Nielsen made his motion picture debut in Forbidden Planet. His strongest performance in the film featured him forcing Dr. Morbius to confront the evil within himself: "Here! Here is where your mind was artificially enlarged. Consciously it still lacked the power to operate the Great Machine. But your subconscious had been made strong enough!"

Walter Pigeon who plays Dr. Morbius gives a convincing performance as a character torn apart by and at war with the horrors of the recesses of his own mind.

Ann Francis who plays Altaira is the only female in the film but is able to effortlessly capture the attention of all males both on and off screen with her on-screen beauty, innocence and naiveté.

The cook played by Earl Holliman is a great comic character, providing the right touch of comic relief in an otherwise quite weighty and dark film.

Of course, Robby the Robot stands as a character in his own right and is more than just a stilted mechanical contraption with legs. Robby displays a definite personality and often seems more human than many of the other characters. Robbie has appeared in Twilight Zone and Lost In Space where he faced off with the B9 robot. The price tag for Robby stood at an expensive $125,000.

Filmed in Eastmancolor and CinemaScope, Forbidden Planet departed from previous science fiction films by depicting humans traveling between the stars in an interstellar vehicle of their own making. We in fact have become the aliens travelling to other worlds in flying saucers! The film was also the first sci-fi genre film set entirely on another world. The threats that are in fact posed to the humans do not come from some external force (bug-eyed monsters and little green men bent on world domination) but instead originate closer to home, in this case from internal monsters from the Id.

Unlike previous sci-fi films and many since, the issue of extra-terrestrial life and intelligence is indirectly represented instead of being physically encountered. The only clue as to the Krell’s physical appearance is the shape of their doors which suggest to our minds beings that might not be humanoid at all. We witness remnants of an ancient, highly advanced civilization on Altair IV but no direct interaction with alien life-forms which are extinct. This serves to heighten the overall sense of mystery and wonder.

What we do have in terms of knowledge about the Krell comes from what Morbius tells us about them based on his research:
  • The Krell were a million years ahead of humans 
  • They managed to suppress their "basic" instincts 
  • They freed themselves from sickness, insanity and crime 
  • They were working on a project to enable them to leave their physical bodies behind and cease relying on instrumentation 
  • Their underground complex would provide them with the capability of using their mental power to manipulate physical reality 
  • They succeeded in fusing themselves with their machine but their suppressed primal selves were amplified resulting in their own destruction.
Let’s hope as does Adams that unlike the Krell; 

  "…….. when the human race reaches the same level of development as the Krell, it will be better equipped to handle it."


I would like to dedicate this post to the memory of actor, director, poet and writer, Leonard Nimoy. Thank you….

Leonard Nimoy 
(1931 – 2015) 

May all of us strive to live long and prosper

©Chris Christopoulos 2015

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