Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Forbidden Planet

FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956)

Notes: MGM. 98 minutes.

Walter Pidgeon
Anne Francis
Leslie Nielsen
Warren Stevens
Jack Kelly
Richard Anderson
Earl Holliman
George Wallace

Director: Fred M. Wilcox


Summary:
Introduction: The final decade of the 21st century provided man with space travel. Eventually, they built a spacecraft that looked identical to the typical U.F.O. The ship, C-74-D, headed to a distant planet, Altair-IV, but never returned. The new ship is able to travel in hyper speeds, during which the men on board the vessel stand in stasis chambers. Upon reaching Altair-IV, one of the men aboard claims that there will be nothing to do on the planet; in fact he states that the ship’s crew will only be able to “throw rocks at tin cans.” Later the rocks will become lasers and the tin can will be the most powerful machine ever created.

The Welcome: Upon circling the planet, the ship can see no trace of any human existence. It is only after a machine tells them that they are being scanned by radar that they are spoken to by those on the planet. Edward Morbius is the one to greet the space explorers. He tells them politely that “No assistance of any kind is necessary.” They state their mission and he replies that he can not help if harm comes to the crew since he is the sole survivor of the previous expedition. Morbius reluctantly gives up the coordinates for a proper landing site near his home.

Robby the Robot: Upon landing the crew sees something stirring up plenty of dust upon its approach. It is Robby the Robot on a land vehicle. He is able to speak 187 languages. One man asks from the back, “Is it male or female?” Immediately the sexual tension of the crew of men is apparent. Robby’s reply is that there can be no distinction in his case. He then asks, “Gentlemen, will you get in?” He is referring to his land vehicle. Robby takes Commander Adams, played by a young Leslie Nielsen, the lieutenant, and Doc to his owner’s home. We find out that Robby can not hurt a rational thinking being. It is a safety mechanism built into his system. However, he can replicate anything on the molecular level. Later he creates alcohol for the cook of the ship. Morbius built Robby, which is said by Commander Adams to be more complex than anything ever built on Earth.

The Old Recluse: Morbius is the only survivor of the original crew; he buried every one of them by hand. The ship was vaporized when the final members of the crew attempted to leave the planet. He calls the enemy “The Planetary Force.” Soon his daughter emerges from one of the back rooms. She is gorgeous and is also safe from the planetary force. “I hope you will make for allowances for us too,” the Lieutenant tells Morbius in reference to his daughter. The lieutenant would be the first to die, after someone snuck past the guards. Commander Adams is given time to talk to Altaira, Morbius’ daughter. He claims that he wishes he were like Robby in some ways, but not in many ways. She is innocent and does not understand what he means.

Robby Gets Put to Use: After the men explain that they must communicate with Earth, Morbius helps them by having Robby create and deliver 10 tons of lead plates. The cook also uses Robby to make 60 gallons of bourbon. Upon completion the cook explains, “You’re the most understanding being ever.” In the next scene Robby walks in on Altaira explaining the happenings of the day to her father and he says heís sorry he did not hear the bell; he was giving himself an oil job. The robot has now had alcohol and given himself an “oil job.” He seems to be quite human.

Romance Blooms: After the Lieutenant attempted to teach Altaira to kiss she felt nothing; Commander Adams, on the other hand, is a good kisser. She starts to find him infuriating and we quickly see love blossom. She even has Robby make her a dress that she thinks will cover all her skin but also “fit in all the right places.” In the end this love would save Commander Adams from death as she chooses him over her father.

The Krell: The truth is revealed as Morbius explains about an ancient race that died out hundreds of centuries ago. The Krell were very intelligent, wider bodied, and had multiple limbs. Their one goal was to create a machine that did not need any parts. It would be of awesome power. They have a power generator approximately five hundred stories tall. It creates so much power that the meters hardly move when something is used. However, when the ship is attacked by some sort of invisible monster the meters go off the charts. The Doctor attempts to use one of the Krell machines that Morbius claims had increased his intelligence. Doc dies but not before revealing the true nature of the monster.

The Manifestation of the Id: The Monster that is attacking the ship is the ultimate machine created by the Krell. It is in fact the subconscious of Morbius — that uncontrollable side called the Id. The machine represents a true doppelganger with Morbius. It is literally the other side of him. Traces of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde could be compared here. Long ago, Morbius wanted his crew stopped so they would not make him leave the planet, so he subconsciously had them killed. Now he was trying to kill the new comers who threatened his studies and his daughter’s innocence. In the final scene, the monster has taken over and is now after his daughter and the commander. But in one final attempt to remain in control of himself he lets the monster kill him, thereby destroying the machine and himself. Morbius sets the place to self destruct and gives Commander Adams and his crew enough time to escape with Altaira and Robbie.


Commentary:
The true monster is not revealed until late in the film, which increases the intensity of the entire movie. It is called a “planetary force” which makes it seem natural when in fact it is a machine. Robbie is a useful machine that has safeguards in place. Robbie is the ideal robot, where as the Krell machine represents a monster. This is also an example of the doppelganger effect, where we are given not only a robot as a monster, but a robot as a friend. Overall, the ultimate monster is extremely successful as a monster and Robbie is successful under the rules of Isaac Asimov.

–Jake Nonis


Robot Films