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Forbidden Planet: 50th Anniversary Edition (DVD Review)

8 Oct, 2006 By: John Latchem

Prebook 10/10/06; Street 11/14/06
$26.99 two-DVD set
$59.92 gift set

Rated 'G'
Stars Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis.

Forbidden Planet is an all-time classic of science-fiction, holding its place among the greats of the genre, and this DVD set is a must-have for anyone interested in sci-fi history.

Many of the film's designs and concepts inspired Gene Roddenberry when he created the original “Star Trek,” which in turn inspired a new generation of writers and sci-fi programming, most notably Ron Moore's “Battlestar Galactica.” Joss Whedon's Serenity makes numerous references to Forbidden Planet.

The story is loosely based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and is very much a tragedy.

Dr. Morbius (Pidgeon) has spent 20 years trapped on Altair IV, studying an extinct civilization called the Krell. When a spaceship from Earth arrives looking for survivors of the original crash, its crew members begin dying off. The mystery lies in the great scientific advancements that caused the downfall of the Krell, and that same hubris could doom Morbius, his daughter (Francis) and the crew. Nielsen, a staple of comedy films since the 1980s, plays the ship's commander.

Test audiences in 1956 were so enthusiastic about the film, according to the notes for some interesting deleted scenes, that MGM may have released it before editing was complete.

The film contains a scope and grandeur rarely seen in its day, filling the screen with vast landscapes, awe-inspiring caverns of technological wonderment and clean special effects.

The most enduring effect is undoubtedly Robby the Robot. Robby proved so popular he immediately was put to use in a new film, The Invisible Boy, which, along with a subsequent appearance on the “Thin Man” television show, are included here.

Among the featurettes sci-fi fans should find interesting is the Turner Classic Movie documentary Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us, featuring such notable sci-fi directors as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Ridley Scott reflecting on a wide array of 1950s sci-fi films, Forbidden Planet among them. If the narrator sounds familiar, it's Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.

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