Forbidden Planet

scenes from Forbidden Planet

What is This?

Forbidden Planet is arguably the best science fiction movie of the 1950′s. In an era where Cold War fears materialized in mutated, giant insects, or alien invaders subverting all that was American, Forbidden Planet worked as all good science fiction does: it examines ourselves. Quite literally, it looked into the materialization of our own inner demons. While most ’50s movies are marred by obviously wire strung rockets, rehashed radiation clouds or just plain bad acting, Forbidden Planet continues to view like a top of the line movie, some fourty years later.

The story of Forbidden Planet holds up so well because it is lifted almost straight from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Starring Leslie Nielson, Walter Pidgeon and Anne Francis, it tells the tale of a ship from Earth investigating the missing expedition to Altair IV. When they arrive they find that most of the crew had died nearly two decades before with only a scientist and his daughter still alive. The scientist’s inner hate for all things foreign to the world begins to leathally manifest through the alien world’s advance technology, especially once love blooms between the ship’s captain and the scientist’s daughter.

The best site for Forbidden Planet info was, without a doubt, Luca Oleastri’s The Unofficial Forbidden Planet Movie Home Page. Rating high on the spiffy-meter, it contains lots of movie goodies and links to all sorts of classic Sci-Fi resources. It disappeared sometime after 2004 but it’s been saved by archive.org.

50th Anniversary

The 50th anniversary of Forbidden Planet was in 2006. During the year there were a number of events including panels at conventions and signings featuring some of the original cast members and other guests. I was fortunate enough to attend the Forbidden Planet panel at Comic-Con that year. On hand were original actors Richard Anderson, Warren Stevens and Earl Holliman. Also on the panel was Fred Barton who is licensed to manufacture Robby the Robot reproductions. There were signings with not only actors Warren Stevens, Richard Anderson and Robert Dix but composer Bebe Barron and historian Bob Burns were on hand at Dark Delicacies in Burbank. While I was pretty tempted to head to LA just for the signing, I wasn’t able to pull it off.

Of course, there was the release of the Ultimate Collector’s Edition DVD box set, newly restored with all sorts of extras. A tiny Robby is included in the package!

Movie Remake

A few years ago, there was news about New Line Cinema working on a remake of Forbidden Planet. At the time it looked like they were planning to do a serious film. I’ll try and track relevant news and rumors stories as I find them. Right now, things look uncertain for a near term FP recreation.

  • 02/22/02 – Another short mention on HobbyTalk that work is continuing on the remake script at Dreamworks.
  • 09/05/01 – Variety indicates Dreamworks has acquired the rights to remake “Forbidden Planet” by Mike DeLuca, a former New Line executive now at Dreamworks. Richard Saperstein and Lindsay Dunlap are currently set as producers. No screenplay writer has been announced. Yahoo! News coverage.
  • 11/01/00 – Hobby Talk had a discussion thread on the Forbidden Planet remake. Notably, someone mentioned that Darabont is no longer on the project and not much has happened in the last few months. The thread looks gone but it’s still a great board with frequent FP threads.
  • 07/31/00 – MyMovies.net carries a similar story on FP being too expensive for New Line.
  • 07/28/00 – UnderGroundOnline reports New Line puts FP on the backburner because of projected costs.
  • 04/14/00 – Another story at Space.Com.
  • 04/12/00 – Update on a possible director: Frank Darabont
  • 03/22/00 – Inital report on Ain’t It Cool News.
  • 03/17/00 – Variety’s initial article.

57D landing scene