Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Forbidden Planet (1956)

Forbidden Planet is a 1956 science fiction film directed by Fred M. Wilcox, with a screenplay by Cyril Hume. It stars Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, and Anne Francis. The characters and its setting have been compared to those in William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and its plot contains certain story analogs. Forbidden Planet was the first science fiction film that was set entirely on another planet in deep space, away from the planet Earth. It is considered one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, a precursor of what was to come for the science fiction film genre in the decades that followed.

Forbidden Planet features special effects for which A. Arnold Gillespie, Irving G. Ries, and Wesley C. Miller were nominated for an Academy Award. It was the only major award nomination the film received. Forbidden Planet features the groundbreaking use of an all-electronic music musical score. It also featured "Robby the Robot", one of the first film robots that was more than just a mechanical "tin can" on legs; Robby displays a distinct personality and is a complete supporting character in the film. Early in the 23rd century, the United Planets Cruiser C57-D has been sent to the planet Altair IV, 16 light-years from the Earth. Its mission is to discover the fate of an expedition sent 20 years earlier to establish a colony on the planet. Soon after achieving orbit, the cruiser receives a radio transmission from the surface: Dr. Edward Morbius of the Earth expedition says he needs no assistance and warns them not to land. The starship's captain, Commander John J. Adams, dismisses the warning, following his specific orders, and insists Morbius provide landing coordinates; Morbius reluctantly complies.

The C57-D is met by Robby the Robot, who takes Adams, Lieutenant Jerry Farman, and Lieutenant "Doc" Ostrow to meet Dr. Morbius. At his elegant home, Morbius explains that an unknown planetary force killed nearly all of the other members of his expedition and vaporized their starship, the Bellerophon, as it tried to leave the planet. Only Morbius, his wife (who later died of natural causes), and their daughter Altaira survived, having chosen to stay behind on this new world they loved and adopted. Morbius fears the crew of the C57-D will also meet the same fate. Teenaged Altaira cannot recall any man but her father; after meeting the attractive officers of the Earth ship, she becomes interested in learning about personal human relationships. In a subsequent visit to the residence, Adams and Ostrow learn from Morbius that he has been studying the "Krell," the ancient civilization of Altair IV who, despite being far more advanced than humanity, had all died mysteriously during a single night, some 200,000 years before – just as they had achieved their greatest triumph. Inside a still functioning Krell laboratory, Morbius shows Adams and Ostrow a device he calls a "plastic educator," capable of measuring and enhancing intellectual capacity, although its main purpose is to enable three-dimensional projection of any thought in the user's mind. Morbius explains that the captain of the Bellerophon had tried using it and had been killed instantly. When Morbius used the machine the first time he barely survived; as a result, he found his intellectual capacity had been permanently doubled. This along with information he obtained from a Krell "library" enabled him to build Robby and other technological marvels in his house. "Childsplay," he observes. Morbius then takes them on a tour of a vast cube-shaped underground Krell machine, 20 miles [30 km] on a side and powered by 9,200 thermonuclear reactors in tandem. This amazing complex had been operating and maintaining itself since the extinction of the Krell, some 2000 centuries before. When asked about its purpose, Morbius only hints at some minor functions, but says it is capable of generating and functioning at practically limitless power: "the number 10 raised almost literally to the power of infinity." Later the next night, a valuable piece of equipment in Adams's starship is sabotaged, though the posted sentries never detect any intruder. In response, Adams commands that a defensive (disintegrating ray) fence be set up around his ship. This defense proves to be useless, however, when whatever caused the damage returns, passes unseen and unharmed through the fence, and violently murders Chief Engineer Alonzo Quinn. Later, Ostrow is confused after examining a cast made from the footprints that the intruder left behind, saying that it appears to violate all known evolutionary laws, "a nightmare in anyone's book." The silent intruder returns again on the next night, and it is discovered to be invisible. Its monstrous appearance is revealed only as fiery, now bellowing outline in both the energy beams of the force field and the crew's many energy weapons directed against it in the fight that follows, both of which have no effect. Several of the ship's crew are killed by the creature, including Farman, while defending the ship. Simultaneously in the Krell laboratory, Morbius is awakened from sleeping by a scream from Altaira; at that instant, the thing in the energy beams vanishes. Later, while Adams confronts Morbius at the house, Ostrow sneaks away to use the "plastic educator." His goal is to boost his intelligence and thereby solve the mystery of recent events. Like the captain of the Bellerephon, however, he is mortally injured by the process. Just before he dies, Ostrow explains to Adams that the underground installation was built to materialize and project any object that the Krell could imagine anywhere on the planet for any purpose: physical creativity by mere thought. However, the Krell had forgotten one vital thing: "Monsters from the id! Monsters from the subconscious." When confronted by Adams with these details, Morbius objects, pointing out that there are no Krell left on the planet. Adams replies that Morbius's mind – expanded by the "plastic educator" and thus able to interact with the gigantic Krell device – had created the monster that had killed the rest of his expedition 20 years earlier – after they had voted to return to the Earth; Morbius scoffs at Adams's theory.
When Altaira declares her love for Adams in defiance of her father's wishes, the invisible monster of Morbius' mind suddenly approaches the house, coming straight for them. Robby sounds the alarm and Morbius commands him to kill it. Robby recognizes the monster as an extension of Morbius, and the only way to destroy it would be to kill Morbius; the clash of his voiced order against the robot's programming to never harm humans shuts down Robby's circuits. The still invisible monster breaks into the house and then melts its way through the nearly indestructible, thick metal doors of the Krell laboratory, where Adams, Altaira, and Morbius have now taken refuge. Morbius finally accepts the truth: The monster is an extension of his own mind, and he decides to renounce it. When Morbius is mortally injured trying to intervene, the creature disappears permanently. While Morbius lies dying, he directs Adams to throw a switch that ultimately sets the Krell complex's atomic reactors to overload. He warns them with his dying words that they must be safely away from Altair IV 100 million miles in deep space within 24 hours. From that safe distance, Adams, Altaira, Robby, and the rest of the C57-D's crew witness on the ship's viewplate the auto-destruction of Altair IV as a distant bright flash of light. As Adams voices a quiet requiem for Morbius to Altaira, the starship begins its long return journey to Earth.  - From Wikipedia

98 MIN

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