“Monsters! Monsters from the Id!”: Forbidden Planet (1956)


The Wonders in the Dark sci-fi countdown rolls on, and here’s another contribution from yours truly: at #25, it’s the 1956 deep-space classic Forbidden Planet:

MGM, the studio that produced Forbidden Planet, threw a couple million dollars into the production of the film, and it shows in the final product. Boasting an intriguing storyline that is very loosely based on the plot threads of William Shakespeare’s 1610 play The Tempest, Forbidden Planet definitely stands out in comparison to many of its sci-fi brethren of the mid-1950s, particularly in regards to production value. With the mighty power of the MGM production design team behind them, director Fred M. Wilcox’s set designers were able to construct an incredible spaceship set on the MGM sound stages, surrounded by a massive backdrop depicting the unique Altairian skyline. Combine that with the incomprehensible scope of the laboratory scenes and the seemingly endless expanses of the underground world of the Krell, and it’s safe to say that Forbidden Planet boasts one hell of an impressive bit of world-building.

What’s perhaps most impressive about the entire enterprise, however, is that even with all of the details that the filmmakers were able to squeeze into Planet, they exercise restraint in regards to the biggest mystery of the movie: the Krell. We never see the Krell (Morbius, in fact, states that there is no record remaining as to their physicality), but we get odd hints as to their appearance–the wide triangular doorways that lead to their labs, the wide headset to the mind-expanding “educator” device–all of which lets your imagination run wild in the very best ways. We’re not told that the Krell were human, per se, but that they did “visit” Earth and “sample” biological specimens. But they were, at the very least, human-like, susceptible to the same follies and flaws as mankind: greed, hubris, overconfidence.

Head on over to Wonders to read the rest of this piece, and keep checking in with them to read the ongoing contributions!

Previous entries:

#66. The Iron Giant (1999, Brad Bird)

#47. Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century (1953, Chuck Jones)

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