Monday, 30 December 2019

Sci-Fi Stories That Inspired Classic Sci Fi Films: “Forbidden Planet” by W. J. Stuart

To begin with, the film Forbidden Planet (1956) was actually loosely based on William Shakespeare's, The Tempest. This sci-fi classic film in turn went on to influence other films and series of that genre including Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a play that is set on an island near Italy where Prospero, who had at one time been Duke of Milan, and his beautiful daughter, Miranda, live with a spirit servant called Ariel and a strange wildman called Caliban who is Prospero’s slave. Prospero uses magic to conjure a storm and torment the survivors of a shipwreck, including the King of Naples and Prospero's treacherous brother, Antonio. Prospero's slave, Caliban, plots to rid himself of his master, but is thwarted by Ariel.

Magic, betrayal, love, forgiveness and repentance are among the main themes dealt with in The Tempest.

The sci-fi movie, Forbidden Planet (1956) is set in the year 2371 on a desert planet called Altair-4, where the crew of the Cruiser C-57-D arrives on a rescue mission and to determine the fate of a group of scientists who had been sent there decades earlier. When Commander John J. Adams and his crew arrive, they discover only two people: Dr. Morbius and his daughter, Altaira who was born on the remote planet. The questions that need to be answered are:

What happened on Altair IV? 
Why is it that only Morbius and Altaira are the sole survivors?

Shortly before the film was released, a novelization appeared that was written by W. J. Stuart (Philip MacDonald being the pseudonym he wrote under). His story largely follows the events and characters depicted in the film with some minot alterations and additions. In the novel, the story is told from the point of view of three different narrators: Dr. Ostrow, Commander Adams, and Dr. Morbius.

The novel goes into far greater detail concerning the mysterious Krell and their disappearance. In fact, before viewing the film, it would pay to read the account in Stuart’s novel of Morbius’s repeated exposure to the Krell's brain boosting technology and how it ultimately led to his and the Krell’s own downfall, both of whom did not take into account the role played by their imperfections and primitive base drives.

One of the added story elements that was not present in the film involves Dr. Ostrow’s dissection of one of the dead Earth-type little primates whose internal structure suggests that it had never been alive in the way we would understand a biological organism as being alive. This creature along with the other animals are therefore conscious creations or constructs of Dr. Morbius using Krell technology that can project matter in any form. And what of the power to create life? Can such hubris and arrogance be permitted? - “We are, after all, not God."

Movie clip: Id Monster

Forbidden Planet PDF Download

Forbidden Planet Radio Play Download

Forbidden Planet Full Movie Link

Blog Post Movie Review

I’ll have the last of the sci-fi films from the 1950s for your consideration early in the new year. After that, I’ll present a fairly random selection of what I consider to be among the best classic sci-fi films from the 1960s – 1980’s. They wont be dealt with in any particular chronological order and quite a few films will not be included at all.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and the very best for 2020! Thank you for stopping by this blog and I sincerely hope you managed to find something of interest.

A special thought and prayer for those people here in Australia who are enduring horrible drought conditions and bush-fires. May things turn around for the better as soon as possible!

Donations to help individuals and communities affected by bush/wild fires and the ongoing drought can be made at:

©Chris Christopoulos 2019

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