Release Date: April 1, 1956
Cast: Walter Pidgeon as Morbius
Leslie Nielsen as John J. Adams
Anne Francis as Altaira
Warren Stevens as "Doc" Ostrow
Earl Holliman as "Cookie"
Length: color (WS)- 98 minutes
Budget: $4.9 million
Director: Fred M. Wilcox
Cinematography: George J. Foley
Screenplay: Cyril Hume
Music: Louis & Bebe Barron
Gross revenue: $23.5 million
At a budget of $4.9 million, Forbidden Planet has to be one of 1950's most expensive sci-fi movies. It did well at the box office grossing $23.5 million.
Forbidden Planet was shot in Cinemascope and had stereophonic sound in some theaters.
The plot and settings of Forbidden Planet are based on William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. The special effects were fantastic and earned the team composed of A. Arnold Gillespie, Irving G. Ries, and Wesley C. Miller an academy award nomination.
Robby the robot played a prominent role in Forbidden Planet. It was constructed at a cost of $125,000. The robot was also featured in a 1957 science fiction feature named The Invisible Boy.
Believe it or not, the entire production was shot indoors. All film sets were constructed at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's sound stage in its Culver City lot. The simulated outdoor scenes were created with lighting, matte paintings, and other visual effects.
The vehicle driven by robby the robot and the tractor/crane from the starship were both specially constructed for the movie. The full sized set of the starship was used in several Twilight Zone episodes.
The animated sequences of Forbidden Planet, especially the "id" monster which attacked the ship were created by animator Joshua Meador. His services were loaned to M-G-M by Disney studios.
There was no music to this film as such. It incorporated sounds electronically generated. This concept was devised by Louis and Bebe Barron. Louis made his own electronic device to generate the "bleeps, blurps, whirs, whines, throbs, hums, and screeches" heard throughout the movie.
Early in the 23rd century, the United Planets Cruiser C-57D 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 there. The cruiser is contacted by Dr. Edward Morbius, who radios the crew and warns them to stay away. However, the starship's captain, Commander John J. Adams, decides to land on Altair IV.
The ship is met by Robby the Robot, who takes Adams, Lieutenant Jerry Farman, and Lieutenant "Doc" Ostrow to meet Dr. Morbius. Morbius explains that an unknown phenomenon killed nearly all of the other members of his expedition and destroyed their starship, the Bellerophon.
Only Morbius, his wife (who died of natural causes), and his daughter Altaira, now 19 years old, survived. Morbius fears the crew of the C-57D will also meet the same fate. Altaira cannot recall any man but her father and barely remembers her mother. She is interested in learning about human relationships.
In a subsequent visit to the residence, Adams and Ostrow learn from Morbius that he has been studying the "Krell", the natives of Altair IV who, despite being far more advanced than humanity, all died mysteriously during a single night 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 it and had been killed instantly.
Morbius used it but barely survived. However, he doubled his intellectual abilities as a result. He says this enabled him to build Robby and the other technological marvels in his house. Morbius takes them on a tour of a vast cube-shaped underground Krell installation, 20 miles [30 km] in each direction and powered by 9,200 thermonuclear reactors. This complex had been operating and maintaining itself ever since the extinction of the Krell. When asked about its purpose, Morbius only hints at some minor functions, but says it is capable of functioning with practically limitless power.
One night, a valuable piece of equipment in Cdr. Adams's starship is damaged, though the sentries who had been posted spotted no intruders. In response, Adams commands that a defensive force-field fence be set up around his starship. However, this defense proves to be useless when whatever caused the damage returns, passes unseen and unharmed through the fence to kill Chief Engineer Quinn. Dr. Ostrow is confused after examining the footprints that it left behind, saying that the creature appears to violate all known evolutionary laws.
The intruder returns again on the next night, and it is discovered to be invisible. Its appearance is revealed only in outline by the beams of the force field and the crewmen's weapons. Several men are killed by the monster, including Lt. Farman. Simultaneously in a Krell laboratory, Dr. Morbius is awakened from a pitched nightmare by a scream from Altaira. At that instant, the creature vanishes.
Later, while Cdr. Adams confronts Morbius at the house, Lt. Ostrow sneaks away to use the plastic educator. His goal is to bolster his intelligence and thereby solve the mystery behind the invisible intruder. 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 any object that the Krell could imagine.
However, the Krell had forgotten one vital thing: "Monsters from the id!" When confronted by Adams with these findings, Morbius objects, pointing out that there are no Krell left. Adams replies that Morbius's mind — expanded by the plastic educator and thus able to interact with the gigantic Krell device — had created subconsciously 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 Cdr. Adams in defiance of her father's wishes, the alien monster of the mind comes after them. Dr. Morbius commands Robby to kill it, but the robot freezes, unable to harm a human being. Robby recognizes the monster as an extension of Morbius, and his only way to destroy it would be to kill Morbius; instead, the clash of orders burns out the robot's circuits. The creature breaks into the house and then melts its way through the nearly-indestructible door of the Krell laboratory where Adams, Altaira, and Morbius have taken refuge.
Morbius finally accepts the truth that the creature is an extension of his own mind, and he tries to renounce it. When Morbius is mortally injured trying to intervene, the creature disappears permanently. While Morbius lies dying, he directs Cdr. Adams to press a lever that sets the Krell complex to self-destruct. Adams, Altaira, Robby, and the rest of the starship's crew take off for outer space. From there, they witness the destruction of the entire planet of Altair IV from a safe distance away. Before the film ends, Adams says to Altaira, "We are, after all, not God."
In this sci-fi drama, it was earth men who flew through outer space in flying saucers - not aliens from another planet. What were described as UFOs (unidentified flying objects) in Earth VS. the Flying Saucers, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Thing From Another World, Invaders From Mars, and others was certainly identifiable in this film.
This picture has a couple of references to God. In the opening sequence when approaching Altair-IV, Dr. Ostrow (Warren Stevens) commented, "The Lord sure makes some beautiful worlds." And at the end, Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen) tells Altaira that, "We're not God."
It seems that, generally speaking, science fiction films in the 1950s were more reverent in recognizing the existence of God than modern-day movies.