At once intelligent and campy, Forbidden Planet is an intriguing, perhaps overrated sci-fi classic that borrows plot points from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and strongly anticipates “Star Trek” in its sci-fi milieu — but its driving fears are the “monsters from the id,” the wayward, concupiscent passions of our own hearts.
Set in 2200 AD, the film opens with a flying saucerlike craft from Earth arriving at the distant planet to investigate the status of a colonizing party from which there has been no contact. What Commander John Adams (Leslie Nielsen) and his crew find is a single survivor, the secretive, uncooperative Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) — and his virginal but uninhibited daughter Altaira (Anne Francis), who’s been raised by her father in isolation and has no first-hand knowledge of Earth or men.
Altaira naturally creates a stir among the long-isolated spacemen, and her naive lack of inhibitions about such matters as kissing — pure Enlightenment idealism — is as congenial to them as it would be to James T. Kirk.
Yet in contrast to Kirk — a hero of a future for the 1960s — Commander Adams in a 1950s future has a more morally attuned assessment of the dangers in this area and of the need for restraint. In this respect, Forbidden Planet plays as an anticipated critique of “Star Trek” as well as a forerunner.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.