Forbidden Planet

1956

Forbidden Planet

Critics Consensus

Shakespeare gets the deluxe space treatment in Forbidden Planet, an adaptation of The Tempest with impressive sets and seamless special effects.

98%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 43

85%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 21,403
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Forbidden Planet Photos

Movie Info

Shakespeare's "The Tempest" is transformed in this landmark science-fiction film with groundbreaking special effects. Space men travel to a planet ruled by expatriate Pidgeon who has built a kingdom with his daughter and obedient robot Robby. There the good doctor is plagued by his mad quest for knowledge through his "brain booster" machine, and by Freudian "monsters from the id" as his daughter discovers other men and learns to kiss.

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Cast

Walter Pidgeon
as Dr. Edward Morbius
Anne Francis
as Altaira 'Alta' Morbius
Leslie Nielsen
as Commander J. J. Adams
Warren Stevens
as Lt. 'Doc' Ostrow M.D.
Jack Kelly
as Lt. Farman
Richard Anderson
as Chief Quinn
Bob Dix
as Grey
Jimmy Thompson
as Youngerford
Jimmie Thompson
as Youngerford
Roger McGee
as Lindstrom
Morgan Jones
as Nichols
Frankie Darro
as Robby the Robot
James Best
as Crewman
Les Tremayne
as Narrator
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Critic Reviews for Forbidden Planet

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (5)

Audience Reviews for Forbidden Planet

  • Jul 30, 2018
    This film shows you don't need incredible graphics or special effects to tell a great story. A clear precursor to so many things in Star Trek the following decade, and for the genre, it probably deserves even a slightly higher rating. You have the genius stranded on an isolated planet (Walter Pidgeon), learning advanced technology. You have the young nymph (Anne Francis) who is sexually unaware but willing to take lessons from crewmen all too eager to provide them, stoking the fantasies of male sci-fi fans. You have Robby the Robot, who has been programmed to obey, but with prime directives not to kill humans. And you have unseen alien with formidable knowledge and power. The scene where the beast lights up under laser fire and attacks crewmen, flinging them through the air, is fantastic. The concept of the Krell and their machine is as well. There are moments of levity mixed in with the philosophizing and opining about the human race. On the downside, the acting isn't all that great and Leslie Nielsen's performance in particular is uneven. The script is cheesy in several places so be prepared for that, but to me it added to the camp value.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 24, 2017
    Believe it or not, there was a time when sci-fi films didn't have CGI filled action sequences, massive sets, or far-fetched plot twists and turns. Forbidden Planet was one of the first films to encompass all of the aforementioned things, albeit in an entirely different manner. I'm currently in the midst of trying to watch and re-watch as many sci-fi features as I can and Forbidden Planet happened to be the next on my ledger. This film can easily be considered a forgotten gem, but ironically, it's one of the films that paved the way for countless other films to be made. This was before Star Trek or Star Wars and yet, it still makes an impact on me after I've spent years of my life cherishing those properties. Without a large scale budget or expensive cast, Forbidden Planet works as a solid think piece. The film deals with a starship crew from the 23rd century exploring a planet that was thought to be the landing place of a previous crew years earlier. Who or what they find is a complete mystery. For the most part, Forbidden Planet is a slow-burning film. There's little to no action, and any scene of injury or consequence often happens off-screen. In other words, the words spoken usually have a bigger impact than anything you see. With that said, the sets and painted backgrounds are easy on the eyes, especially considering this film was made over 60 years ago. But most of all, the ideas and themes explored here are impressive to say the least. It's always interesting to go back and watch films that you didn't realize had such a profound impact on the way a certain genre is made now. Forbidden Planet is certainly one of those. 8.1/10 Believe it or not, there was a time when sci-fi films didn't have CGI filled action sequences, massive sets, or far-fetched plot twists and turns. Forbidden Planet was one of the first films to encompass all of the aforementioned things, albeit in an entirely different manner. I'm currently in the midst of trying to watch and re-watch as many sci-fi features as I can and Forbidden Planet happened to be the next on my ledger. This film can easily be considered a forgotten gem, but ironically, it's one of the films that paved the way for countless other films to be made. This was before Star Trek or Star Wars and yet, it still makes an impact on me after I've spent years of my life cherishing those properties. Without a large scale budget or expensive cast, Forbidden Planet works as a solid think piece. The film deals with a starship crew from the 23rd century exploring a planet that was thought to be the landing place of a previous crew years earlier. Who or what they find is a complete mystery. For the most part, Forbidden Planet is a slow-burning film. There's little to no action, and any scene of injury or consequence often happens off-screen. In other words, the words spoken usually have a bigger impact than anything you see. With that said, the sets and painted backgrounds are easy on the eyes, especially considering this film was made over 60 years ago. But most of all, the ideas and themes explored here are impressive to say the least. It's always interesting to go back and watch films that you didn't realize had such a profound impact on the way a certain genre is made now. Forbidden Planet is certainly one of those. 8.1/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • May 01, 2014
    The one science fiction film that inspired everything, just about. This historically significant sci-fi pretty much gave birth to ideas and concepts that went on to influence so many other classic franchises that are now themselves deemed to be classics. The only science fiction characters I can think of that came along before this film that may have influenced it in one way or another are Flash Gordon Buck Rogers and, believe it or not, Duck Dodgers. That classic Daffy Duck cartoon has quite similar visuals and ideas you'll notice. Oh and lets not forget about that Shakespeare chap and his play The Tempest, there's also some kind of parallel there it seems. It is very easy to see similarities with later sci-fi franchises whilst watching this film, the most obvious (to me) being Star Trek from the futuristic space attire to pretty much everything. The crew don't beam down in this film though, its all a bit more grounded. But the way they start to explore with lasers at the ready, the dialog and the fact you know most of the crew are dispensable accept for the main three leads and the young cook is amusing. The equivalent of Star Treks stock 'redshirt' characters, the young cook being a kind of early 'Scotty' equivalent, almost like the happy-go-lucky crew mascot. I think we can all agree on one thing here, its the visuals throughout the film in general that inspire and excite. The films starts off in a very typical spaceship interior which these days probably would do nothing for you. There isn't much to shout about at first, blokes in grey space suits, in space, with identical hairdos, being all militaristic and straight laced (although the suits have a nice natty design). Your eyes start to quiver with nerd orgies when we see the horrifically stereotypically designed 1950's flying saucer spaceship land slowly on Altair IV. This is where it all begins, this is where the film becomes one long continuous iconic vision after another. For starters Altair IV looks awesome it really does, its merely a matte painting in the background for both models and live action and its pretty basic in concept...but it looks gorgeous! (and sooo Trekkie-esque). Despite the rather grey and dull colour scheme for the planet it just looks so vibrant and attractive in every shot. I love the jagged vertical rocks and the simple use of painted force perspective to create such a grand alien vista. Must mention the smartly named C57-D starship which, as said, is merely a flying saucer. Yeah it may look cheesy as hell but come on...how cool is it with that sweet neon blue glow when it lands and that haunting whistle-like noise. Along with that there are the quite stunning underground machines of the 'Krell' which are again a combination of some fantastic matte painting work set against live action, again the forced perspective really tricks the eye (these sequences look like Duck Dodgers). And who can forget the monstrous 'Id' monster which is another brilliant piece of traditional craftsmanship in the simple form of hand drawn animation by a Disney animator (and you can tell). Its all the blue laser fire and that red/pink glowing outline of the monster that make it all look so unique, fun and ahead of its time (for the time). There really is so much to talk about in this movie its hard to get it all in. Aside from the spectacular eye candy and effects you also have the legendary 'Robbie the Robot' which can only be described as an almost mythical, immortal character of sci-fi. I mean just look at it! this film was made in 1956 but that robot is fudging epic! Sure its a bit cartoony looking but the obvious mechanics functions and hard work involved in making him are admirable, and Robbie isn't even the films main attraction really. The only thing that lets it down are the now slightly dated interior sets and the quite corny looking garden areas complete with Earth animals...which takes you out of the film. Can't not mention the score can I, the first completely electronic score in a movie. Its an eerie spooky score that's for sure but it adds such depth and character to the whole adventure. An array of sounds which come across sounding like dripping water, bubbling, underwater noises, various hums, whirs, clicks, beeps, whines etc...The kind of things you'd expect to hear in an old fashioned mad scientists laboratory, I always felt this score could of worked well in the film 'Fantastic Voyage' personally, perfect for all those internal organ sequences. I love this score I really do, its so imaginative, simple and creepy, yet really pleasant to listen to and very relaxing surprisingly. I still look back and find it hard to believe that the spoof master Leslie Nielsen was in this, as we all know he sure changed his persona. Yeah back in the days before his hair went white and he wasn't acting the fool in a genius kinda way Nielsen was a stoic stern no nonsense space Commander who gets his girl. The rest of the crew are all a bit faceless really (their identical outfits don't help) and its hard to think that such a game changer like this doesn't really have any big stars. Walter Pidgeon as the now famously named 'Dr Morbius' who kinda looks like he should be in a haunted castle somewhere instead of an alien planet, is the only other big name really. Robbie and the effects are more of a draw than the cast truth be told, not sure how it was back in 56 but you get that impression. As for the plot its definitely more than a simple humans vs aliens sci-fi which you might expect. Its actually quite a clever one involving an ancient alien race and their supreme technology getting abused by a human and the long dead aliens themselves causing their own downfall. Manifestations of the mind, a beings Id brought to life as a living creature. Here we see Dr Morbius losing control, the real monster is Morbius' mind, his subconscious. I believe Morbius wanted to prevent the human race from gaining the alien technology and similarly losing control wiping themselves out, plus he and his daughter have it pretty sweet on Altair and he didn't want that disturbed. Personally I always wanted to see more planetary aliens, bugs and monsters, a Doug McClure in space type adventure, but this is a more meaningful story. Yeah the film does feel very much like a long original Star Trek episode I can't deny it, that's not a bad thing of course, it just shows how influential this film was. All I'm saying is looking back now its really incredible to see how close both franchises actually are visually. Even though I love the visuals I must admit to finding the plot a tiny bit dull with more hints of action rather than actual action. I'm not saying I want just pure action but as said I would have loved to see more space beasties, the look of the film cries out for it. I appreciate the Tempest similarities but I often think this could of been even more fun had it been more of a stand alone sci-fi plot wise. But amazingly for a 50's space flick its a very intelligent and deep adventure which has become a full top level cult and the quintessential science fiction film up alongside the likes of '2001: A Space Odyssey'. Even the films poster is beautiful, the kind of classic colourful movie poster you could frame and hang on your wall.
    Phil H Super Reviewer
  • Apr 30, 2013
    5/1/13 Director: Fred M. Wilcox Finding The Tempest in Forbidden Planet Fred M. Wilcox is well known for basing his 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet off of William Shakespeare's beloved The Tempest. In actuality, Forbidden Planet is an adaptation of the magical play, with some minor changes, which service the story, and the time in which the film was made. Before we examine the characters in the film and play, we must first examine some of the film's setting (and the play's). Like the classic sci-fi that it is, Forbidden Planet is tremendous at sending it's message - as a great film should, it shows us the struggles in it's narrative, rather than bashing us over the head with annoying narration every time something is meant to be implied. Forbidden Planet plays as a warning of the power of technology, and a warning of the human subconscious, suggesting that balance between the two is where peace lies. The Tempest on the other hand, is a play, and it should be noted that film and the stage send information in different ways; while it is effective to show us information in film, more often in a play speaking vital clues and details is essential, being that not everyone in the audience has the best view of the stage. The Tempest takes place on an island, belonging to Prospero. In the film, the island has been changed into a large forbidden planet (hence the title); the play's ship is now a space ship. Forbidden Planet introduces us to technology from the very beginning of the film. Technology here, unlike the majority of science fiction, isn't stressed as being good or bad - and the only thing in Shakespeare's play I can relate it to is magic. If an audience in Shakespeare's day viewed Forbidden Planet, they would interpret Robby, and the wonderfully dated animation sequence of the Monster of Morbius' Id, as magic. Speaking of magic, the iconic star of the film, Robby the Robot, is important not just as the film's Ariel, but important to the science fiction genre in general, because he is credited as being the first fully realized character that was not a human - he is a robot, and at that point in the 50's, robots were usually only monsters or some puppet for a human character to use. But not Robby; he is a character with humor, and emotion, that plays a significant role in the plot. This says a lot about artificial intelligence, almost encouraging it if it were done correctly. Robby is the perfect being created by humans - he does not have some plot to destroy his maker, and although he understands the limits of his "brain", he is perfectly happy living in those circumstances. Nothing makes Robby happier than serving his master, and he understands his place in the universe. In the play, Prospero claims Ariel as "thou, which art but air..." which reflects the first appearance of Robby, through a cloud of smoke zipping through the desert to reach the space crew we've just met. Of these men, Commander John J. Adams is your usual hero archetype; Leslie Nielson is wonderful in the role, mustering up the perfect blend of charm and charisma, and always someone to trust when we enter the mysterious planet. What comes through most is his humor, and unflinching ability to swoon Altaira Morbius. It's important that from the opening scene of the film that we connect with Nielson, as so much of the plot in the first act in introducing us the strange new characters, ideas, and an entire planet. There isn't much time in the rest of the story to develop him. Like in The Tempest, where the reader is introduced to the island by way of discovering it alongside a crew at sea, we connect with the space crew from their first few moments of dialogue. Forbidden Planet is not without its dashing leading men, who as the film progresses erode until its just Nielson. Aside from Airplane! This is easily my favorite performance of his. Next in line is Nielson's love interest, Altaira Morbius, who certainly is charming but if I had to pick a weaker part of the cast, it would be her. Anne Francis is not bad in the role per say, but she is a little too unassuming at times; her big doe-eyes are cute at first, and definitely get the message across that I am supposed to feel sympathetic to her for not understanding the world as her father does, but this part of her drags on a bit. By the time the third act rolls around, I asked myself "does she understand anything?". And no, she's not stupid, but this part of the film does age it a bit, and reminds you to be in a 1950's mindset. Altaira is a mirror of Miranda, who are both pure, young women who have distinct links with nature. If this film ever gets remade, (which talks of that happening have been going on for a good decade now) Altaira's character would be the one with the most need of an update. One could argue that as in Shakespeare's story, her innocence is very welcome, which I agree it is. She lets the audience in, and serves as the one to cling on to if you're not fully understanding everything going on. It just felt weird coming from a piece based off one of Shakespeare's plays, which are known to have unusually strong female characters. Altaira's father, Dr. Morbius, serves as the film's Prospero. The only major difference is that in the play, Prospero is aware of his power - he knows that he is magical, and that his island belongs to him. However in the film, Morbius is unaware of the power he possesses; this, ultimately is his downfall, and causes him to fail in the third act. Prospero is helpful with his magic; Morbius is anything but helpful with his scientific "genius" - except for his creation Robby, who is plenty of help when defense is needed. Morbius is a dual personality; he most often acts on a rational plane, seeking the most logical conclusions to any questions brought forward. However it is his own Monster of the Id that is a symbol for his instincts. Morbius is great here, tragic like the character he is based on - his presence on screen is immediately felt, filling the role of the "scientist" similar to the likes of Dr. Frankenstein or Rotwang in Metropolis. Like Dr. Frankenstien, he is a tragic man, who longs for a great goal but fails in the process. His Freudian Monster of the Id (which was marvelously done and rather entertaining I might add) is agreeably seen as Caliban, the monster-man on Prospero's island; the Cook is Stephano. Forbidden Planet was originally released (as previously stated) in 1956, when the United States was well into the atomic age and the Cold War. Japan's allegory of nuclear devastation, Gojira, had premiered a year earlier, and the world was stuck with the notion of nuclear supremacy being more devastating than helpful. Unlike Prospero, who used his magic for self-gain, the science of Forbidden Planet is meant to further all of mankind. Morbius knows that he is not the ultimate power, and the film suggests a warning to the world, reminding us the "...we are not God..." in it's final scene. Spiritually, the film hasn't aged despite it's very 50's mindset. Lines claiming God as the ultimate power are scattered throughout, and while I wouldn't say this is a Christian film, it certainly has some ideas that I as a Christian could latch onto, giving the film a little bit more to chew on. First of all, the film is about a man who lives in ultimate power over a planet, who has to learn his dominion over said planet is not his greatest accomplishment - his daughter is. Secondly, the film's characters do not gain any sort of power, and it teaches that having power is not a guaranteed perfect life - in fact, the film suggests a more humble attitude to the things beyond our control is more applicable. "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." - Romans 13:1, as Paul ascribes. This is something Christianity teaches, as Christ often spoke of being loving, and caring for people we do not know or understand. Science Fiction in general is a genre that begs for answers, and understanding; all of these things are what Christians hunger for in our daily walks with Christ. The genre often asks what our purpose is here on Earth, and God grants us knowledge of that purpose by way of relationship with Him. Forbidden Planet and The Tempest are both marvels to behold in their mediums. They both have stood the test of time, and serve for different ways to hear of the same message. If you can't stand Shakespeare's diction, perhaps Forbidden Planet is for you. If you have a hard time sitting through older films with slower paces and dated effects, the maybe The Tempest will appease you, allowing you to read at your own pace, and to use your imagination. They work well together and separately, warning of too much power and reminding us to be thankful for what we've been given. Both are excellent, Forbidden Planet in particular is a great translation of the original play and serves as a perfect example of the notion that there are no new ideas - everything in film and science fiction has been done before in some way. It's not about creating new ideas; instead it is about using something old in a fresh, intriguing way.
    Joshua H Super Reviewer

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