🚀 Keep Watching the Skies! Science Fiction Cinema of the 1950s: The Year is 1956 – Part Two: Forbidden Planet




Forbidden Planet

Earthmen on a fabulous, peril-journey into outer space!


A month after Invasion of the Body Snatchers was released, 12 years before the studio wowed audiences with its mesmerizing, complex production of 2001: A Space Odyssey, MGM released their spectacular, colorful, big-budget science fiction space Opera – Forbidden Planet. Replacing the threat of an alien intruder seeking to take over our minds, the enemy WAS our mind and its potential to manifest a subconscious monster- a cartoon animated monster from the id. Perhaps a variation of Stevenson’s horror of duality, Jekyll and Hyde is set in a futuristic milieu – on another planet.

Recognizing this theme, Walter Pidgeon’s character Morbius emphasizes the duality that exists within his nature. Behind the facade of the rational mind prowls the primitive instincts and desires, now incarnate right from its source – Freud’s id. Morbius is in denial that he has in fact manifested the monster himself. It’s an allegory of insatiable ego, internal agony and torment, and perhaps incestuous jealousy. A collection of his suppressed rage hidden behind the outwardly rational scientific mind.

Shakespeare informs Prospero  – “this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.”  Morbius is the true villain in Forbidden Planet, embodied by a power, intensified a thousand percent from the ancient science of the extinct Krell, who brought into existence their nightmares, ultimately proving to be the end of them.

Forbidden Planet has been the benchmark of the science fiction genre for years by the sheer scope of its production values. MGM was the studio that had painted for us, an unforgettable daydream – The Wizard of Oz in 1939. Director John Landis referred to the studio as making pictures with ‘gloss’ and Forbidden Planet was their feature science fiction film trading in Singing in the Rain for robots and ray guns. John Carpenter says that in terms of traditional science fiction ‘formulas’ this film ‘broke it’ Carpenter also attributes Forbidden Planet to his wanting to become a director.

And John Dykstra who did the FX on Star Wars comments – “It was a serious attempt to represent a completely unique world… it’s gotta be a world that nobody knows and at the same time everyone recognizes as being alien.”

Forbiden Planet is an allegory of technological power and mortal arrogance.

After years from its initial release Forbidden Planet finally reached its cult following, and is considered the Star Wars of the 1950s with its flamboyant color scheme, Wide Screen presentation, indelible visual effects, and endearingly kitsch touches. Only one other dazzling post-war science fiction space Opera of the 1950s comes to mind -Joseph M. Newman and an uncredited Jack Arnold’s This Island Earth 1955  nears Forbidden Planet’s exhilarating yet a bit tacky tone.

Historian Carlos Clarens has remarked that Forbidden Planet is “a rare flight of fancy by the earthbound MGM – it resuscitates the classical elements of the horror movie, with ultra-modern decor.”

Seth Lerer in his article Forbidden Planet and the Terrors of Philology -called it an “Esteemed science fiction film, a blend of high cultural allusion and high camp effects.”

Forbidden Planet has the feel of a fantastical pulp tale straight out of Amazing Stories, Astounding, or Fantastic Adventures Magazine. The film showcases all the great elements of a classic science fiction story. Advanced technology, space travel, futuristic tidbits like forcefields, lightning-inspired laser beams, brain-boosting machines, transport beams, subterranean worlds,  – rayguns, the vast planetary energy wells, likable robots, and a terror-inspiring monster that lurks and tears it’s victims limb from limb. It’s interesting to note, we see Earthmen traveling in a typified flying saucer of 1950s alien flicks instead the traditional phallic-shaped rocket.

Aside from ‘The sensuousness of the color’ (Carlos Clarens An Illustrated History of the Horror Film and Science Fiction)–or the sensorial experience brought about by the lush colors, my heart used to pump and pound (and still does), when as a kid I’d await the scene where the fiery id materializes. It emerges menacing, startling, causing a delightful jolt of fear and I was thrilled to see Its sparking outline ambushed in the force field. This iconic scene is one of the contributing joys that gave me an appetite for classical science fiction, fantasy, and horror in my childhood.

Forbidden Planet was directed by Fred McLeod Wilcox with a screenplay by Cyril Hume who adapted his script from an original story by Allen Adler & Irving Block. So much has been written on how they presumably modeled the film after the fatalistic comic allegory – William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. (uncredited).

Joe Dante says that it ‘bares scrutiny as an oddball translation’ or a reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s story. Now a cult classic, this post-war sci-fi outing with its primary artifacts that represent the decade’s cultural presumptions, transforms its magician Prospero into the scientist Morbius with the play now taking place within intergalactic surroundings.  Forbidden Planet is well-fed with two separate futuristic levels of technology. The crew from Earth and the ancient mysterious Krell. Arthur C. Clarke said – “any technology sufficiently advanced would appear to be magic.” Akin to Prospero’s (now Morbius) mythical magic.

Tales by William Shakespeare 1883

Malaga believes that there are a great many elements that are connected to the film and his play that have gone unnoticed by critics. Morbius and Prospero are figures that are “isolated from the rest of mankind and have devoted their lives to the study of some books that have granted them an extraordinary almost supernatural power.” Also by the story’s end, both men renounce their power and knowledge. -source from the article SHAKESPEARE IN OUTER SPACE: FORBIDDEN PLANET AS AN ADAPTION OF THE TEMPEST by Miguel Angel Gonzalez Malaga

Some critics seemed to be piqued by the fascinating relationship between Shakespeare’s work and the 1950s science-fiction craze.“Shakespeare takes a journey into space.” – Alan Brien’s review for the London Evening Standard, went on to say that Cyril Hume had produced the most boisterous of all “Hollywood planetary melodramas, dressing The Tempest in space suits.” But many other critics just wanted MGM to stick with the more traditional scenario, us vs a ‘monster’ and steer clear of anything as deep and disturbing as Freudian angst. This is reflected in MGM’s advertising campaign with Robby carrying Anne Francis off as his conquest, targeting a younger audience who had no use for an intellectual narrative.

Writer Allen Adler approached Irving Block to help him sell the idea. Originally they thought it would be picked up by a low-budget film company, but their agent convinced them to take their trippy story “Fatal Planet” to MGM which turned out to be a lucky move. Forbidden Planet was produced by Nicholas Nayfack (film noir Rogue Cop 1954, Ransom! 1956, Border Incident 1949)

Producer Nicholas Nayfack was impressed by Block’s presentation and they decided to invest in what would be their first science fiction major motion picture. Block worked on special effects often with Jack Rabin (he did visual effects, contributing to everything from Cat-Women of the Moon 1953 with Marie Windsor to Night of the Hunter 1955.

In this 1950’s science fiction feature, the bogie man, is a creature of pure thought, a psychic beast, a ‘mindless primitive’ manifested into physical unyielding matter. This is not unlike Fiend Without a Face’s thought vampires born out of a scientist – Prof. Walgate (Kynaston Reeves) whose meddling with atomic energy boosts his mental ability and inadvertently conjures materialized crawling fiendish brains with spinal columns, that spread terror throughout a quiet farming community. 

Prof. Walgate’s own brain booster!

Like Shakespeare’s Caliban from The Tempest – the Calibanesque id monster – a pure force of destruction, is a projection of Morbius’ (Walter Pidgeon) id. The embodiment of all his subconscious aggressions and fears. This ‘force’ is the powerful remnant of an advanced civilization called the Krell, whose pursuit of transcending their bodies and the technology they developed to achieve this desire, wound up destroying their Utopian world.

The Krell machinery/technological and/or magic yields to Morbius’ unconscious dark impulses. His id monster is revealed as the destructive impulses that manifest through his dreams, while he sleeps, the monster strikes, and when Morbius awakens, the thing disappears.

This aspect of the story can also be linked to The Tempest as Prospero swears, “We are such stuff as dreams are made of.” The id monster lurks in Morbius’ nightmares.

Hume gives us hints about the monstrous force that emerges out of our dreams, the source of its existence, but it is not revealed until the combustible climax at the film’s end. It was also a powerful choice not to show the Krell. Rather there are suggestive clues as to what they might have looked like from the doorway, designed to be triangular and wide. What entered and exited there? We will forever wonder.

Adams says to Morbius, “And yet in all these nineteen years, you, personally have never again been bothered by this ‘planetary force?”

Morbius- “Only in nightmares of those times. And yet always in my mind-I seem to feel the creature is lurking somewhere close at hand. Sly and irresistible and only waiting to be reinvoked for murder.”

Irving Block said in an interview ” Never to show the monster would probably have been something of a cheat, so there it is in the blaster bolts, outlined in fiery energy, screaming and roaring and stomping. It is one of the most vivid images in all of science fiction and the film would be poorer without it.” Block was involved in pictures from 1950 to 1960. Among the other films he worked on was the fabulous science fiction film, Kronos 1957 which will be coming up in Keep Watching the Skies: The Year is 1957, and the underrated science fiction, The Atomic Submarine 1959.

The Tempest tells the story of Prospero a powerful sorcerer, whose undoing was his inability to see himself clearly, as he possesses a supernatural-like god complex and a thirst for supreme power.

In the original story, Prospero is exiled from Milan by his brother Antonio who sought the Dukedom, and winds up shipwrecked on a remote magical island. He remained there with his daughter Miranda and his two servants. The monstrous Caliban and the fae Ariel. Until his sanctuary is disrupted by a crew of sailors who land on the shore after a horrific storm.

Screenwriter Cyril Hume shifts Prospero’s island to the forbidding planet Altair-IV in the year 2200 and like Prospero, Professor Morbius is a scientist/magician who struggles to harness the inscrutable forces he seeks to set free. We see an outward manifestation of his suppressed rage and jealousy, like Morbius the brooding scientist living in isolation much like Prospero comes face to face with the monster of his own making.

When a sailing ship lands on Prospero’s metaphoric island, Miranda falls in love with one of the men. This sparks incestuous jealousy and antagonism from her father. This scenario is recreated in Forbidden Planet with Altaira (Ann Francis) and Commander Adams ( Leslie Nielson) who is the likeness of The Tempest’s Ferdinand.

The story has been looked upon as having incestuous overtones, but one could also consider the dynamic as one of paternalistic protectiveness as that of a father worrying about the safety of his daughter’s virtue. In this retelling, there is channeled jealousy due to the sexual attention given to Alta by the crew of Cruiser C-57-D.

Morbius is a man who cannot face his own internal conflicts. When his daughter shows sexual attraction to Commander Adams, the sleeping monster is aroused. For a foray into science fiction pulp fiction, this undercurrent could be considered of risky import running through the plot.

Also transfigured is the character of Caliban, reworked into a nebulous ‘monster of the id’ which tied into the growing movement at that time where Freudian psychology found its embrace. Caliban’s newly envisioned threatening presence of the ‘id’ gives this new version its palpable invocation. 

Virginia Vaughan and Alden Vaughan edition of The Tempest examine the Freud interpretation of the Caliban character. Caliban as id becomes a palpable thread in 20th Century psychoanalytic interpretations of The Tempest, a notion more dramatically presented in the 1956 science-fiction film, Forbidden Planet.

Shakespeare’s sprite Ariel has a metamorphosis into the obedient mechanical servant ‘Robby the Robot.’ “A triumph of cybernetics only one step removed from total humanity” – Clarens

Forbidden Planet’s eclectic cinematographer was George J. Folsey (Meet Me in St Louis 1944, Green Dolphin Street 1947, Executive Suite 1954, The Cobweb 1955, House of Numbers 1957, The Balcony 1963, Glass Houses 1972 directed by the underrated Alexander Singer).

Edited by Ferris Webster who didn’t have the chance to finish his editing of the print, it wound up a rough cut which MGM released because it did so well during its sneak preview.

Studio head Schary who had little confidence in its success released Forbidden Planet as a vividly colorful exploitation that could tap into the decade’s appetite for science fiction films. You could see this in the promotion for the movie, which presented Robby as a menacing robot taking Anne Francis hostage and carrying her off in its metalized arms – a scene that never happens. There aren’t any artistic representations of the Krell or the fantastical id monster for that matter, but of course, the posters promote nubile Anne Francis clad in her mini in the clutches of metallic-panhandler. Bill Warren astutely reasons this was due to the press responding to the film, as aimed at a younger audience with its appearance as a “comic strip.”

One of the exceptional features of Forbidden Planet is it’s musical score, deemed ‘electronic tonalities’ by Bebe & Louis Barron. At first Dore Schary was unsure about using electronic music throughout the film. What makes it so memorable is its space-spooky sound that seems to cry out from the vacuous pulse of a galaxy void. These reverberations predate Ridley Scott’s Alien 1979 and make me think that perhaps the Barron’s achievement in tonalities and unique soundtrack inspired composer Jerry Goldsmith’s configuration of space for that iconic sci-fi. The sound of the id monster makes the waveforms that scream out with sonic ripples as the monster roars with its electronic bellowing.

It took the Barron’s 8 months to complete their innovative score for the film, in the studio they used raw electronic sound waves, oscillations that generated a sequence of tones, harmonic dissonance, signals, bleeps and sonic plucks. They created weird experimental loops and played around with vacuum tubes. Is this the precursor to the synthesizer? The studio loved it! so they gave the Barron’s the entire film to score.

Imagining the id monster they managed to create a terrifying storm of auditory bullets and gusts of electrical air that fueled the sound of an invisible force. I remember shivering as a kid when the sonic shock waves signal that the monster is approaching. Bebe Barron liked that her music addressed our subconscious nightmares, which manages to color the film’s score as if it were a full-blown conventional orchestra using traditional instrumentation.

It is frustrating to me, that the Music Union considered their work as merely “electronic tonalities” and credited it as such. They were not considered composers – literal musicians who play instruments. Sadly it prevented them from being nominated for an academy award for the score.

Forbidden Planet’s superior design team created a sense of wonder and the vibrant look the special effects department developed, with brilliant matte drawings, miniatures, and animation, and a fantastical landscape with two brilliant moons and ‘colossal caverns of power grids.’ Included, are the special effects by A. Arnold Gillespie, Warren Newcombe & Irving G. Reis. Joshua Meador was brought in from Disney to work on the animation. And Robert Kinoshita, Glen Robinson, and Franklyn Soldo.

Production Design by Cedric Gibbons & Arthur Lonergan with additional input by Irving Block.

Art direction Cedric Gibbons and Arthur Lonergan ( Pitfall 1948, The Actress 1953, Robinson Crusoe on Mars 1964, MASH 1970, The Todd Killings 1971). And the set decoration by Hugh Hunt and Edwin B. Willis.

The spaceship was purposely designed to resemble a flying saucer, as the widespread folklore of the disc shape UFO was now a great part of the American consciousness in the 1950s – film, television, and comic books. John Landis remarks the ship is-an “Incredibly clear, crisp and sharp and indelible image.” All of the movie’s scenes are set on either Altair IV or the Cruiser C57D and its crew. There are no scenes that take place on Earth.

The art department with Arthur Lonagan in charge as art director grabbed hold of the project and had sets built that were way bigger than what was in the budget and he created elaborate sets (the next grand design MGM would produce would be 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968) which he had to finish because they were already half done. It was a 350-foot stage built that served as the backdrop for the scene where Robby in the mobile is seen driving from a distance stirring up the cloud of sand at one end, creating the sense and scope of a vast landscape. The depth of perspective was spectacular. With jagged rocky monoliths scattered under the sea-green sky. Audiences hadn’t seen anything like that before, on that scale, in a science fiction movie.

They built the models of the underground shafts and extensive networks of machinery, and expansive walkways, shooting the set horizontally against the Matte background, the stage was as big as a football field. It created the effect of super hydro electrical nuclear power times infinity, with “giant Van der Graaf” generators gliding up and down and “gauges that register energy output on a geometric scale… at the end, we see every single one of these flashing.” -Richard Scheib

John Carpenter says it appeared like science fiction of the future with “1950s technology creeping in.”

With the fabulous set design by Edwin Willis and Hugh Hunt.

With Visual Effects by Bob Abrams, Joe Alves, Max Fabian, Howard Fisher, Henri Hillinck, Joshua Meador, Bob Trochim, and Matthew Yuricich, who created gorgeous shots of the multiple moons in a surreal Frank Frazetta heavens and the sand-covered planet.

In terms of the menacing id monster, MGM wanted something that was traditionally nightmarish and hideously scary.  working out different concepts from Lovecraftian, (Thinking about it now, I wonder if the similarly colorful sparking, crackling silhouetted thing in The Dunwich Horror 1970 is not a take-off on Forbidden Planet’s id monster?) to an absurd caricature of Walter Pidgeon’s head on two legs. They considered something like Harryhausen’s stop-motion animation but that would have given it a solid quality. This they had not envisioned, so they turned to animation.

MGM hadn’t any special effects animation department, so they got a serious animation artist who had been the best in the trade. Josh Meador came along courtesy of Walt Disney Productions. He was responsible for the id monster. The drawings were cinemascope proportions in pencil. They did not use ‘animation cels’, but took sketches on ‘high contrast film, reversed the polarity of the negative and then added a red tint to it and yellow eyes.’ By shooting in reverse it gave the appearance of seeing through the monstrous id.

Meador also created the brilliant blue beam from the spaceship,  Robby shorting out from the bubble atop his head, the glowing red electrical arcing, and the ray gun blasts.

Forbidden Planet could have been a pilot film for Star Trek. Roddenberry took it as an inspiration for his series. The little communicators used by the crew of the Enterprise and ‘the beam me up/down’ sequences. Star Trek borrowed the vibe and structure of the military spaceship interiors. Many of Star Trek’s elements share a commonality with Forbidden Planet. In fact, the character of ‘Doc’ and his serious demeanor and prickliness reminds me of Deforest Kelley’s Dr. McCoy on Star Trek. The Time Tunnel’s pilot episode features a matte shot, similar to the Krell’s, with its underground buildings and people running across a walkway above a giant power generator.

The Outer Limits episode “The Man with the Power” starring Donald Pleasance revisits the premise of a person’s subconscious manifesting a destructive, murderous entity.

Many episodes of The Twilight Zone borrowed from the movie. The episode To Serve Man 1962 it shows the lower portion of the Kanamits’ spaceship, an adapted version with a retractable stairway, of the saucer-shaped United Planets Cruiser C-57D. Again the same ship was used in the episode Hocus-Pocus and Frisby. In the episode The Incredible World of Horace Ford 1963 the toy design is that of Robby the Robot. And in Uncle Simon, the robot is a modified Robby. He also makes an appearance in The Brain Center at Whipples in 1964. The uniforms worn by the aliens are re-used in The Monsters are Due on Maple Street (1960).

The costumes are re-used in Queen of Outer Space (1958) as well as the weaponry. In The Blob (1958) the poster is seen in the movie theater scene. Bebe and Louis Barron’s ‘electronic tonalities’ are used once again in From the Earth to the Moon (1958). In The Time Machine 1960, air raid wardens wear the suits of the Forbidden Planet crew. Again in The Twilight Zone episode The Invaders 1961, the United Planets Cruiser, Robby, and handguns from Forbidden Planet are seen. In The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street the saucer is shown flying at the end. The spaceship Cruiser is also seen in On Thursday We Leave for Home 1963.

Star Trek: The Original Series episode Where No Man Has Gone Before used the Krell doorways on “Galactic Mining Delta-Vega Station in the episode The Menagerie: Part II. Robot The Robot appears in Lost in Space: Condemned of Space 1967.

The men’s uniforms were designed by Walter Plunkett.

Helen Rose designed Anne Francis’s stylish gowns and modern-fashioned minis. Francis’ fashions were also used in Queen of Outer Space. William Tuttle is credited for makeup.

Forbidden Planet stars Walter Pidgeon as Dr. Morbius. Pidgeon was one of the studio’s main leading men in the 1940s. He has rarely spoken well of the film. Pidgeon did appear in another sci-fi epic directed by Irwin Allen, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea 1961.

Anne Francis stars as Altaira, Morbius’ daughter, the mini-skirted heroine of the story. Leslie Nielsen plays Commander Adams our handsome hero. Warren Stevens is his side kick Lt. ‘Doc’ Ostrow, Jack Kelly is the randy Lt. Farhman, Richard Anderson is Chief Quinn, and Earl Holliman is Cookie the Cook ( the comic buffoon who uses Robby as his straight man) fans of Shakespeare will recognize him as a variation of Stephano the king’s drunken butler.

Robert Dix as Crewman Grey and James Best as one of the crew. Narrated by sci-fi veteran, Les Tremayne.

Earl Holliman is cast as the comic interlude, Cookie gripes –“Another one of those ‘New Worlds’, no women, no beer, no pool parlors, nothin’!”

from Wiki:

The name “Robbie” (spelled with an “ie”) had appeared in science fiction before Forbidden Planet. In a pulp magazine adventure The Fantastic Island (1935), the name is used for a mechanical likeness of Doc Savage used to confuse foes. The name is also used in Isaac Asimov‘s short story “Robbie” (1940) about a first-generation robot designed to care for children.

Robby the Robot has been widely recognized as an enduring icon of science fiction lure. He is one of the standout figures and the cult of popularity that makes Forbidden Planet, so visually catchy, much like Gort’s presence in Day the Earth Stood Still 1951. Robby was operated by the uncredited stuntmen Frankie Darro and Frankie Carpenter who were both short men. Wikipedia lists them as 5’3″. His voice was that of actor Marvin Miller.

Designed by members of the studio’s art department, and constructed by the prop department Robby began his journey from initial ideas and sketches by visual effects and production designer A. Arnold Gillespie ( art director Arthur Lonergan and writer Irving Block.

His plexiglass-domed head had fully operating mechanisms that illustrated his mechanical brain. The neoprene suit creased at the hips, the back of his knees, and the front elbows when he moved. With the suit weighing in at a little over a hundred pounds Frankie Carpenter could only spend twenty minutes at a clip supporting it on his shoulders due to the upper part being too top-heavy for the legs to support it. They used a harness known as a ‘flying harness’ the same construction used in MGM’s The Wizard of OZ for the Flying Monkeys.

These included a “pilot light” at the very top, an intricate apparatus terminating in three white wire-frame spheres that rotate in planetary fashion (representing his gyroscopic stabilizers), a pair of reciprocating arms in the shape of an inverted “V”, multiple flashing lights, and an elaborate horizontal array of moving levers resembling saxophone keys.

Conical protuberances attached to each side of the head carry two small forward-facing blinking lights (his eyes) and two rotating chromed rings, one mounted vertically and the other horizontally, which represent Robby’s audio detectors (his ears). The bottom front section of the head is a curved grille consisting of parallel rows of thin blue neon tubes, which light up in synchronization with Robby’s voice. This neon grille also enabled the operator to both see out and to breathe. The joint between the head and chest section was fitted with a custom-made bearing that allowed the head to rotate 45 degrees in either direction. – from Wikipedia

Supposedly when Robby was to do a 180 spin as he exited the vehicle the crew had to catch him before he fell. Somewhere the gossip existed and It suggested that he had a drinking problem and was drunk on the set. Robby never fell down drunk and no surviving crew or cast members recall any incidents that would support this.

As Joe Dante noted robots had usually been portrayed as clunky with 3 metal blocks and a head. Robby’s design was a huge departure, a revolutionary change from the image of the ‘walking oil can’ routinely used in early serials. Nothing as uniquely depicted in classic science fiction as groundbreaking and as memorable can be seen except for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis 1927 with the evocative “Menschmaschine.” Though she was more of a sensual humanoid than a conceptualized, practical functioning robot.

A. Arnold Gillespie MGM’s top special effects guy said this –“ I felt that most robots of science fiction movies had a look of a man in an aluminum suit. They all seemed the same to me and I decided that we ought to find a new look- a different kind of Robot. I happened to think of the pot-bellied stoves of my youth. So, Robby was designed, basically from an old pot-bellied coal-burning stove!”

The earlier drawings nearly designed Robby as clunky. Robby the Robot wound up being so popular that producer Nayfack re-scripted him for The Invisible Boy 1957, ‘Mind Over Mayhem’ Columbo episode 1974, Lost in Space episode 1966 ‘War of the Robots’, and several popular television series.

Robby was designed by members of the MGM art department and constructed by the studio’s prop department. The design was developed from initial ideas and sketches by special effects and production designer A. Arnold Gillespie (visual effects on the spectacular fable – The Wizard of Oz 1939, Ben-Hur 1959, and Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest 1959). Along with Gillespie were art director Arthur Lonergan and writer Irving Block. After this Mentor Huebner who worked in the art department as an illustrator added his designs to other groundbreaking science fiction epics such as Blade Runner 1982, Dune 1984, Total Recall 1990, and John Carpenter’s The Thing 1982. He took the inception for the look of Robby and fine-tuned him. Finally, Robert Kinoshita MGM’s draughtsman and mechanical designer added the finishing touches.

From the marvelous opening, the movie wins you over, while the Barron’s unearthly electronic tonalities sprinkle and bellow and allusions to currents of pulsing whale calls and effervescing water, across a sweeping blanket of stars, serenade the animated Cruiser space ship which crossfades into the blackness. The yellow, red, and purple comic book titles and credits emerge onto the screen. Something grand is about to happen!

Forbidden Planet takes place in the final decade of the twenty-third century, and due to Earth’s advanced technology they reached hyper-drive, and our rockets surpassed the speed of light, reaching into deep space for the conquest and colonization of other planets in the solar system. The United Planets Cruiser C-57D on a rescue expedition spins through the galaxy on a journey that takes the crew a year away from home.

The spaceship is helmed by Commander J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) who leads the search for any survivors of the crew from the Bellerophon who were scientists on a prospecting mission on the great main sequence star Altair-IV. The Bellerophon disappeared some twenty years ago and hasn’t been heard of since. Bellerophon is the Corinthian hero of Greek Mythology that slayed the Chimera, a fire-breathing mix of lion, snake, and goat. He was the son of Poseidon and was the one who tamed the winged horse Pegasus.

C-57D’s destination is the fourth planet of the giant red star Altair, an Earth-type planet. Commander Adams studies the seemingly desolate planet along with his other officers, Lt. ‘Doc’ Strow (Warren Stevens), Lt. Farman (Jack Kelly), and Chief Quinn (Richard Anderson). Adams prepares to land when it becomes apparent that some force is radar-scanning their ship. The radio picks up a voice that identifies itself as Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) the Bellerophon’s philologist and lone survivor of the original expedition. He cautions them not to land on Altair-IV, urging them to turn back. “I cannot assume responsibility for the safety of your crew.” Adams defies Morbius’ wishes and prepares his crew to arm themselves and land the Cruiser, descending upon the sandy red mesa and rocky ridged spires underneath the eerie greenish sky with a titanic sun. And so they land on Morbius’ strange planet.

In the horizon, streaks of dusty smoke make cuts in the air through the space of the desert, shooting toward them like a bullet. Robby approaches at great speed, with mechanical similarity to Ariel’s airy nature, except this spirit, is possessed of a domed head, it’s a computer for a brain, clicking and flashing. The crew is met by the astounding robot- Robby, who had been the blur hurling toward them on the horizon driving a three-passenger dune-mobile, sent to bring them to Morbius’ impressive house.

Robby tells the men, “If you do not speak English, I am at your disposal with 187 other languages along with their various dialects and sub-tongues.” Commander John J. Adams: Nice climate you have here. High oxygen content. Robby unemotionally answers: “I seldom use it myself, sir. It promotes rust.”

Adams and his men join Robby on the vehicle and arrive at a beautiful architectural home, where they are greeted by the fastidious and moody, goateed Prof. Morbius.

Adams informs Morbius that they are on a rescue mission and intends to take both he and Alta back to Earth but Morbius refuses to leave Altair-IV. He seeks to further delve into the secrets of the Krell, and this is now his paradise, for him and his daughter.

Morbius recounts to Adams, ‘Doc’ and Farman, the attack on the crew of the Bellerophon and how they were sacrificed to an inexplicable horror, by some “planetary force here… Some dark terrible incomprehensible force.” it’s a menacing creature that lurks, referring to it as some devilish thing that never shows itself. He and his wife and daughter are the sole survivors of the Bellerophon. Only he and his wife were immune because of their “special love for this new world.” Commander Adams is puzzled by the circumstances of the expedition that has seemingly vanished.

His wife died a few months after the others, not from this ominous force but of natural causes, leaving him with his daughter, the nymph Altraira, affectionately called Alta (Anne Francis). The rest of the crew of scientists, however, died, literally torn apart limb from limb by this invisible force. And in the nineteen years since, it has been quiet on Altair-IV.

Morbius’ solemn eloquence makes him appear melancholy, and awe-struck especially in his oratory of the legendary Krell. “And when, in the course of eons, they had abolished sickness and insanity and crime, and all injustice, they turned- still with high benevolence -outward toward space.” Some of the speeches as Bill Warren puts it are “cumbersome” like “planetary force” “instrumentalities”, etc. He’s a little ‘stuffy’ and overarchingly pedantic in his style, but this quite frankly, seems to be part of Pidgeon’s persona in general.

Morbius makes it clear that they have intruded on his privacy, though he invites them to a synthetic lunch produced and served up by his servant robot, Robby. Robby is a creation of “absolutely selfless obedience.” However, he has built in a safeguard that will inhibit his robot if he should be moved to harm a person. He has been designed with rational thought, built in to ensure that he will shut down if prompted to attack. He will be triggered to start fusing his mechanical brain until he has blown all his circuits.  

With his knowledge of languages Morbius was able to pierce the code of the Krell’s records and after the pursuit of the history and true nature of this advanced race of aliens, discovered some of the secrets of the Krell. Later we learn the extinct inhabitants of Altair-IV mastered a supreme intelligence allowing them to materialize their most hidden thoughts and desires, but were ultimately destroyed by these manifestations of their collective unconscious.

Morbius is the only one who possesses a certain understanding of the Krell, giving him a certain mysterious air, like that of  – a magician.

On several occasions Morbius uses the word “magic” to describe his creations and the character of Dr. ‘Doc’ Ostrow defines his power as “Aladdin’s lamp in a physics laboratory” which suggests that science has evolved into the magic of the future. Stephen Greenblatt has described Prospero’s magic as “a way to enact the fancies of the brain.” In this way Morbius’ use of Krell’s technology will help him, outwardly shape what is concealed in his own mind.

Suddenly a beautiful young girl enters the room where the crew and her father are talking. It is Altaira Morbuis’ daughter. He is visibly rattled because he had instructed her to remain in her room until the men had left. Alta defies her father’s wishes and comes to study the visitors, being curious about the idea of meeting men from Earth. She has lived in isolation her whole life, having never seen a man before, other than her overprotective father.

Like Miranda in The Tempest, all she knew was her private world on the Island and her father Prospero’s magic, and Caliban and Ariel. When the men from the sailing ship arrive she brings forth these impassioned words, “O wonder/How many goodly creatures are there here!/ How Beauteous mankind is! O Brave new world/ that has such people isn’t.”

Altaira is also wonder-struck at the site of the men from Earth. All three officers are instantly taken in by the mystique of her sexual innocence. She is not aware of her effect on them. They spent the last year in HyperSpace, captivated by her beauty and the vision of her is that of a – divine nature.

Lt. Farman immediately begins to play Casanova with Alta, who is perplexed by his lecherous performance. She presents her animal friends, a gentle deer, and her other companion, a majestic tiger, showing that she has the ability to bond with them.

The theme of incest is perhaps palpable for some. Morbiu’s vision of Alta could fuel a subplot and give resonance to the idea that he refuses to allow her to be exposed to other men for darker, more sinister reasons. I rather think that he just likes to retain solitary ownership of things that are important to him, his daughter, and his work. The id monster strikes at first it’s merely destructive when Morbius thinks about Commander Adams taking them to Earth. But once Alta falls for Adams, the monster goes on a murderous rampage, by the end, it even threatens to kill Alta, when she makes her decision to go with Adams. This is also when she addresses her father as Morbius and Darling. My take on it – “Incest” is too strong a word. It’s certainly never indicated that he has a physical desire for his daughter. He just doesn’t want to give up his power and feels a radical protectiveness over her.

I’ve read that there’s a line removed from the final cut of the movie, Adams refers to Morbius as the “Neanderthal Old Man’ who seeks to dominate and control her life. She has been his sole companion for almost twenty years.

Adams must radio Earth for further instructions and the ship’s transmitter’s malfunction. It’ll take some time for Chief Quinn (Richard Anderson) to repair it. Morbius becomes fretful and sends Robby to help the crew get the materials they need to fix the spaceship and leave Altair-IV.

While Adams waits to get further instructions on what to do about bringing Morbius back with them, they must unload their main drive in order to get enough power to return home. Morbius offers to send Robby to get the required shielding, metal that weighs tons, but Robby has no trouble lifting.

Alta-“Why should people want to kiss each other?” Farman- “It’s an old custom all of the really high civilizations go in for it” Alta- “But it’s so silly” Farman- “but it’s good for you though. It stimulates the whole system. I’d be only too happy to show you.” Alta- “Well thank you very much lieutenant…(he grabs her by the shoulders and kisses her)
Alta- “Honestly lieutenant, there must be something seriously the matter with me because honestly I don’t feel the least bit of stimulation.”

While the ship is under repair, Lieutenant Farman gives Alta a lustful exercise in kissing. At first, Alta may appear naive, yet she is completely clued in and alert, literally, to biology. This she shares with Commander Adams who scolds her for dressing in revealing clothes and allowing Farman to take advantage of her, but she has a natural desire to learn how it feels and how she should react to it. Alta is becoming aware of her innate sensuality.

Adams-“Don’t you understand Alta… Well look at yourself. You can’t run around like that in front of men, particularly not a space wolf like Farman so for Pete’s sake go home and put something on that eh… anything!” Alta- “What’s wrong with my clothes? I designed them myself. Stop looking at me that way, I don’t think I like it. Commander, the lieutenant and I were just trying to get a little healthy stimulation from hugging and kissing that’s all.” Adams- “Oh that’s all. It’s so easy for you isn’t it. There’s no, uh, feelings, no emotions, nothing human would ever enter into your mind. Well it so happens that that I’m in command of 18 competitively selected super perfect physical specimens with an average age of 24.6 who have been locked up in Hyper Space for 378 days (his face turns red from shouting ) It would have served you right if I hadn’t… and he… oh go on, get out of here before I put you under guard and then I’ll put more guards on the guards!”

After all, she has been insulated from these feelings by her father who has kept her closed off all these years. She is a paradigm of virtue, and from my look into the back story of Forbidden Planet, I read some interesting conceptions in the original draft, which focused on ‘the myth of the Unicorn and the virgin.’ and there was a working print that included scenes where ‘Doc’ Ostrow suspects that it’s the source of her ‘purity’ which influences her relationship with the wild animals, a divine force that can even gentle a tiger. That it may, “set up some special and soothing resonance in the reflex patterns of a wild animal.”

Alta asks Robby to make her a new dress – that covers everything.

The next time Alta will encounter Adams she’ll be wearing a long gown “that fits in all the right places.” It covers her body more conservatively than her usual mini skirts. Though not in her desired star sapphires, she wears a spectacular necklace of emeralds Robby designed for her. Thus begins a very honeyed flirtatious dance… Putting aside the 1950s science fiction flare, MGM had to take into consideration, a space, figuratively and literally, for a romance between the hero and its young maiden.

While they wait to confront Morbius, Adams roams the grounds and discovers Alta swimming (in her naked suit) in the pool. He is startled when he realizes that she has no clothes on. He had been very aggressive with her about encouraging a wolf-like Farman. Though Alta was mystified about not feeling anything by Farman’s advances, she has a much different reaction to kissing Adams. The moment they embrace each other, the two are drawn together, which ignites their chemistry, and they fall in love.

Alta: “Come on in” Adams: “I didn’t bring my bathing suit” Alta: “What’s a bathing suit?” Adams mutters to himself: “huh… oh murder” (he turns his back) Alta: “Never mind I’m coming out.” Adams: “Now Alta listen, you musn’t…” Alta: “You just wait right there, it’ll only take me second to get dry.” Adams: “Yes well I, I’ll just turn my back here” Alta “Well if that’s the way you feel about it. Well don’t worry you’re not going to have to look at me anymore from now on. You’ll see.” Adams “See what?” Alta: “You’ll see what” Adams: “Now wait a minute Alta if you’re planning on, eh…” Alta: “You know I sure didn’t expect to see you today after the way you the way you spoke to me yesterday” (he smiles) Adams: “I’m very sorry about the way I spoke to you yesterday. I was sort of bothered” Alta: “Hhmm. Alright you can look now. (She emerges from behind the tree) Well nothing shows through does it? I had it made specially for you”Adams: “Oh I thought you weren’t expecting me today?” Alta: “I wasn’t. I don’t know maybe it’s something about me personally you don’t like.”Adams: (He moves in closer) “Alta, you always look just beautiful.” Alta: “Then why don’t you kiss me like everybody else does?” Adams: “Everybody!!? Hasn’t your father taught you anything at all?” Alta: “Well he’s says I’m terribly ignorant but I’ve had poetry, mathematics, logic, physics, and bi…?” Adams: “ology. Of course that’s mostly on a theoretical side.” Alta: “Well so far. What’s wrong with theory?” (They stare at eachother with a held breath pause. Then Adams moves even closer.) “This…” (They kiss, they hold each other lovingly, then Alta’s tiger emerges from above.)

In an image something akin to William Blake the daughter’s tame tiger having laid down in effect with the lamb suddenly leaps upon her. The Symbolism is powerful. (Peter Nicholls)

She will sacrifice her purity when she meets Adams. And that is when she is no longer protected by that divine force, therefor her tiger rebels, once her innocence is lost.

Once we see the awakening of Alta (I know that sounds like a 60s porno flick ‘The Awakening of Alta’), her pet tiger lunges at her and Adams winds up killing it. The tiger reverted to its wild nature and becomes a symbol of her unleashed sexuality. It also is a warning that the tiger attack shows how her awakening is dangerous.

Alta relates the day’s events to her father. When Morbius realizes that her sexual desires have been awakened he becomes furious. He asks her what Commander Adams feels about this.

That night an invisible force enters the C-57D, breaking through the heavy metal hatch destroying vital equipment and their communications with Earth.

Adams is convinced that Morbius is responsible for the attack on the ship, so he and Lt. ‘Doc’ Ostrow (Warren Stevens) go back to his house to question him. But Robby tells them that Morbius must never be disturbed when he is in his private den.

Once inside the house, Adams and Doc confront Morbius who emerges from his lair and now must reveal what he knows, taking them on a journey through the Krell’s ‘alien wonderland’ (Bill Warren). 

The moment Morbius shows the secrets of the Krell can be seen as ‘his particular Masque’ (Vaughan) he continues his tour along the galleries by playing a recording of the music of the Krell emphasizing his own theatrical and spectacular nature of the situation. For him, it’s a way to amaze and delight his guests.

“In times long past this planet was the home of a mighty and noble race of beings which called themselves the Krell.”

Ethically as well as technologically they were a million years ahead of human kind. For unlocking the mysteries of nature they had conquered even their baser selves. And when in the course of eons abolished sickness and insanity and crime and all injustice they turned still with high benevolence outward towards space. Long before the dawn of man’s history they had walked our earth and brought back many biological specimens.

The heights they had reached. But then seemingly when they were on the threshold of some supreme accomplishment which was to have crowned their entire history, this all but divine race perished in a single night. In the two thousand centuries since that unexplained catastrophe even their cloud piercing towers of glass and porcelain and adamantine steel have crumbled back into the soil of Altair IV and nothing absolutely nothing remains above ground.”

Doc’-“What’d they look like?” Morbius- “No record of their physical nature has survived. Except perhaps in the form of this characteristics arch… I suggest you consider it in comparison to one of our functionally designed human doorways.”

Look at the depth and composition of the set design!

The Krell’s mind-blowing technology surpassed anything that Earth in the 23rd century had accomplished. Morbius takes the two men into what could be interpreted as Krell’s laboratory. Reinforced steel doors are stronger than anything on Earth and absorb energy like a sponge. Here, for twenty years Morbius has pierced some logic of the Krell’s alphabet and their scientific breakthroughs. The first practical result was Robby the Robot. “I’ve come here every day now for two decades painfully picking up a few of the least difficult fragments of their knowledge.” 

He shows them a three-pronged head set that can translate the user’s thoughts into living three-dimensional forms and has permanently expanded his intellect, though it nearly killed him the first time he wore it.  This mind booster is referred to as Aladdin’s lamp in a laboratory. Morbius shows them the ‘plastic educator’, he assumes they used, to evaluate and test their young. In much the same way that we employed finger painting on Earth. This mind-boosting apparatus, Morbius describes as having been used by a much larger cranium, which once again, allows our imaginations to wonder about the appearance of the Krell.

He marvels at the awesome power of the lab itself. Still functioning after millions of years with no sign of age or wear and tear on any of it. The lab has a large touch screen that holds the bulk of a library containing Krell’s geometrical theorems, and there are gauges after gauge that modulate infinite power.

The brain booster permanently doubled Morbius’ intellectual capacity, but it also killed the captain of the Bellerophon. The laboratory consists of gauges that are a mirror into the unfathomable unlimited energy of their technology, “ten times ten times ten… the power of ten raised almost literally to that of infinity.”

Morbius now takes them on a journey through the archeological mastery of the Krell, millions of years more developed ahead of human technology and moral dilemma.

Morbius is a Philologist, the study of words and their meanings. That’s how he managed to crack some of the Krell’s alphabet, though there are still cryptic meanings within their language.

Morbius tells Adams and Doc that the Krell were transcending their scientific advancements and were ready to become independent of any “instrumentalities” – machines and reliances, moving them beyond the physical limitations of matter. But in one instance, the race of Krell was taken out of existence. Morbius has no idea what could have destroyed the race of Krell, but he also reveals, in their final days, the Krell had been devoting their energies to projecting their intelligence into this new realm of the intangible. Is this what brought about their annihilation? Adams wonders.

They had conquered primitive selves. Cured sickness and put an end to crime and injustice. “Then seemingly on the threshold of some supreme accomplishment, which was to crown their entire history, this all but divine race perished in a single night.”

Then Morbius shows them the source of the power. In a shuttle car that hurled them deeper into the belly of the planet. “Prepare your minds for a new scale of physical scientific values gentlemen.”

Morbius partially reveals hints of the dangerous secrets of the Krell, and Adams and ‘Doc’ further on a jaw-dropping tour of what remains of the subterranean world below, deep into the bowels of the planet to show them a colossal network of self-running machines, still operating after two thousand centuries beyond their extinction. Below the crust of Altair-IV twenty miles in each direction, the machinery is still pulsing and whirring from the massive system of perpetual power, lubricating themselves, and replacing spare parts. They walk on only one of the 7800 levels that reach forty miles below. This is a supreme moment of wonderment in the movie. John Carpenter comments that no science fiction on this scale has been attempted since Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

The design of the hidden city of the Krell is spectacular, the whirring machinery spans for miles within the planet, a bottomless scape of mechanisms and circuitry that mirror Morbius’ mind.

Now, that night there is a second attack, even while the energy field and electronic sensors have been activated around the Cruiser to protect the ship from another sabotage. Something unseen breaks through. This time chief engineer Quinn is torn to shreds inside the ship, in the same way, the members of the Bellerophon were wiped out.

A subtle moment here where George J. Folsey’s camera work heightens the anticipation of the scene when the id monster creeps past the two guards. His camera shoots this sequence from above as if we are seeing the invisible depressions in the heavy steel stairs, that cave-like butter, under the weight of something massive. Part of it takes place from the vantage point of the monster, looking down on the men as it sneaks onto the ship. Brilliantly underscored by the Barren’s evocative electronic accent tones.

When Morbius finds out that they are savagely ripped apart, he mutters to himself, “So, It’s started again!”  Morbius once again tries to warn the crew about the danger they face, but Adams refuses to leave.

Here Hume drops another hint that the force is connected to Morbius, when he visits the ship to warn them to leave Altair IV or the next attack will be “more deadly and general.” Adams asks how Morbius how he could know that and he says “Know? I seem to visualize it. I… if you wish, call it a premonition.“ Again, unconsciously as in the nightmare line earlier, Morbius refuses to recognize the truth about the roaming horror of Altair-IV.

The next night they take more precautions and set up electronic scanners around the perimeter. The Barren’s electronica underscores the shell fire of footsteps moving out there in the darkness outside the force field. Suddenly, what has been unseen, becomes realized through the electrical currents of the force field. The thing emerges as a transparent beast. The flares of the blaster beams outline a roaring leviathan, traced in a poetry of colorful lightning. Their blaster beams have no effect on it, as it reaches for the crew and shakes them violently, and winds up killing Farman. Then it vanishes. Adams and Doc are shocked, not even the nuclear disintegrators stopped the hideous thing.

It is one of the most iconic scenes in classic science fiction movie history.

Alta awakens her father who is sleeping in the laboratory. He begins to stir from a frenzied sleep. The gauges dim as he comes out of his night terror. Alta has shared his nightmare, and it sends her to the Krell lab. Morbius is unconsciously transmitting his tortured visions. “I just had a terrible dream!” She cries, “There was blood and fire and thunder and something awful was moving in the middle of it. I could hear the roar and bellow. The thing was trying to break into camp. It was going to kill… You’ll take care of him for me, won’t you Father? You’ll protect him.” Morbius tells her, “My darling I’m completely helpless as long as he remains here so willfully.”

Morbius – “You’re too arbitrary commander. Perhaps I don’t choose to be dictated to in my own world.”

Adams  – “Dr Morbius a scientific find of this magnitude has got to be taken under United Planetary supervision no one man can be allowed to monopolize it.” Morbius tells him that he’s been waiting for him to come to that asinine conclusion

Morbius – “I’ve come to the unalterable conclusion that man is unfit as of yet to receive such knowledge and it’s almost limitless power. “

Adams and ‘Doc’ want to figure out what they’re dealing with. They decide to break into the laboratory and use the brain booster in the lab, but Robby is guarding the house and refuses to let them in.

Alta helps them by disabling Robby by using the command “Emergency cancellation Archimedes” Though Robby is programmed not to harm any human, he cannot prevent the men from harming themselves.

‘Doc’ secretly sneaks into the lab while Adams and Alta share a sweet moment together and he takes the brain-boosting machine himself, which proves to be fatal. Robby lumbers in, holding ‘Doc’, his forehead shows the burn marks from the electrodes, where he had been wearing the headgear. Before he dies, he tells Adams that he gained vast intelligence from the brain booster and learned the mystery of the Krell. He tells Adams that his intellect is now more powerful than even Morbius. The secret behind it, the Krell had succeeded in their experiments and evolved into pure thought. “But the Krell forgot one thing… monsters…. Monsters from the id… “ 

Morbius enters and shows his irrational rage in front of Alta, who finally sees his dark side. He accuses Adams of not preventing ‘Doc’ from meddling. Alta is dismayed by her father’s fury and tells him that she’s going to Earth with her Adams. Alta has to go through a ‘weird little arc’ (Bill Warren) – fall for the hero, examine the love she feels for her father, then mistrust him and then choose Adams over her father, Morbius. As she tells Morbius this, Robby detects something invisible approaching the house. Adams asks Morbius what the id is. Morbius explains it is an obsolete term “once used to explain the elementary basis of the subconscious mind.”

Morbius is certain that he and Altaira will be protected from its wrath. But she has fallen from grace because she has betrayed her father and now belongs to Adams. She is no longer ‘immune’ from the vengeful thing. Adams desperately pleads with Morbius to accept the truth. “Morbius, when will you face the truth? That thing out there is you…”

It had all come together for Adams, he sees that the giant machines developed by the Krell were their ultimate creation and their undoing. The thousands of miles of the underground network of power that fed the brilliant Krell had enabled them to convey solid matter and substance, but they didn’t prove to be immune to their primitive urges, like Morbius.

While their machines functioned as the embodiment of their past physical form, they also had the capacity to channel energy from their subconscious thoughts and dreams. Their dreams took shape like an unstoppable incubus that ran amok, forged from machinery that could not be shut down. Adams provokes the truth- “the Krell forget one deadly danger- their own subconscious hate and lust... And so the mindless beasts of their inmost souls, the subconscious had access to a machine that could never be shut down!” The Krell were all dead-but their demons lived on. “After a million years of shining sanity, the Krell could hardly understand the power which was destroying them… The secret devil of every soul on the planet-all set free at once to loot and maim -and take revenge, Morbius, and kill!”

And yet Morbius argues there is one fallacy. The Krell died twenty thousand centuries ago. But a monster still stalks this planet today. He still refuses to face the reality, that what is lurking in the shadows, is his own nightmarish invention.

Adams looks at him “You refuse to accept conclusions.” Robby interrupts them, something is coming toward the house, heavy pounding footsteps can be heard and an invisible presence is ripping at the trees. Morbius activates the steel shutters. Though he desperately secures the house, the thing outside begins to tear with invisible claws, through the steel. Calling Dr. Freud. Morbius is certain that he and Altaira will be protected from its wrath. But she has fallen from grace and is no longer ‘immune’ from the vengeful thing.

Robby: Morbius. Morbius! Dr. Edward Morbius: What? Robby: Something is approaching from the southwest. It is now quite close.[they run to the windows and look out, but see nothing] Commander John J. Adams: Could Robby be wrong? Dr. Edward Morbius: No. Never. [an invisible force rips down the trees; Morbius closes the steel shutters over the windows] Dr. Edward Morbius: I feel sorry for you, young man. Commander John J. Adams: Feel sorry for your daughter, Morbius. Altaira: It’s listening. [the monster pounds on the steel shielding, denting it] Dr. Edward Morbius: Alta, go into my study. Commander John J. Adams: You still refuse to face the truth. Dr. Edward Morbius: What truth? Commander John J. Adams: Morbius, that thing out there – it’s *you*. Dr. Edward Morbius: You’re insane. How else would you have led it here, where Alta must see you torn to pieces? Commander John J. Adams: You still think she’s immune? She’s joined herself to me, body and soul! Altaira: Yes, and whatever comes, forever. Dr. Edward Morbius: Say it’s a lie. Shout, let it hear you out there! Tell it you don’t love this man! Altaira: Not even if I could. [the steel shielding begins to break] Dr. Edward Morbius: Stop it, Robby! Don’t let it in! Kill it, Robby! [Robby shorts out] Commander John J. Adams: It’s no use. He knows it’s your other self. [steel shielding breaks; they run]

The id monster begins to burn and claw through the Krell’s impenetrable steel doors (again, Freudian) turning it into molten liquid red hot, then white hot, and Morbius finally sees that he has conjured up this monster from his subconscious by tapping into the power of the planet’s machinery, just as the Krell had. Alta now sees the truth herself.

The gauges begin to overload, their glowing brighter and flashing intensifying as their power goes into overdrive.

Adams-“Twenty years when your colleagues voted to return to earth you sent your secret id out to murder them! They were threatening your little egomaniac empire.”

This is what wiped out the crew of the Bellerophon, now as before, Morbius did not want to return to Earth and that threat was too great for his desire to stay. Twenty years later the threat rises up again because Adams wants to take him away from his beloved Altair-IV and steal his daughter’s love.

Morbius-“Then it must be true!” Alta-“Then say you’ll help us, darling.”

The veracity of Morbius’ final revelation brings him to a primal frenzy, waving his fists to the planetary heavens as his id, metaphorically becomes unveiled. Self-awareness a little too late, I fear. Morbius finally acknowledges that he, himself has manifested this chaos. The visual effects are stunning.

Because of his greed for knowledge and his jealousy around Alta’s love for another man. “Only with the destruction of Professor Morbius can the Calibanic force be quelled” (Vaughan)

Morbius screams, “Kill him! My evil self is at that door and I have no power to stop it!” Stop! I deny you! I give you up!




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