Press Play: Forbidden Planet

Press Play: Forbidden Planet

Sep 08, 2010

This week's must-see DVD/BD, and why we're lovin' it.

What? Forbidden Planet
Who? Directed by Fred M. Wilcox and starring Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon and Anne Francis
Why? Before Star Trek, Dr. Who, Lost in Space or Star Wars came this seminal 1956 sci-fi classic that introduced the world to Robby the Robot—moviedom's first bipedal robot character with a personality. This fun outer space adventure features a pre-silver fox/pre-Naked Gun Leslie Nielsen as the commander of a flying saucer sent to the earthlike Altair IV on a mission. There he and his crew meet the planet's three inhabitants: the brilliant Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), his beautiful daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis), and their dutiful servant, Robby the Robot, who does everything from making clothes for Altaira to whipping up 60 gallons of whiskey for the ship's cook. More sinister, however, is the ancient alien technology of a long-lost civilization that Dr. Morbius is sitting on top of and trying to decipher. When the crew starts getting murdered by a mysterious invisible monster, Commander Adams suspects the creature is fueled by Dr. Morbius's id and becomes hell-bent on rescuing Altaira from the planet before it's too late.

This Blu-ray debut of Forbidden Planet breathes new life into the aging film that a new generation will get a kick out of watching just to see where elements of their favorite movies come from: the phasers and communicators from Star Trek, R2-D2 from Star Wars, Robot from Lost in Space and the mad scientist from The Black Hole, to name a few. Forbidden Planet came out in the UFO-obsessed 1950s, but it is the first movie to show humans operating a flying saucer instead of aliens. It is also the first movie to use an all-electronic score, and the eerie, otherworldly synth music became synonymous with America's newfound fascination with science-fiction that continues to this day.

What Else?: The BD is loaded with bonus material, including "Amazing! Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet," "Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon," the TCM original documentary "Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us," deleted scenes and lost footage. You'll want to check out: The entire pseudo-sequel The Invisible Boy and an episode of The Thin Man, both of which feature Robby the Robot, are included in their entirety.

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