tl;dr I do recommend watching this movie and I have some notes and a suggestion.
First things first; I have to say I’m not an old movie or a sci-fi nut. I thought maybe it’s a good idea to give an old sci-fi movie a chance. after some web surfing and research, I decided to watch this particular movie; in part because I just loved the poster design. The art style excites my inner child.
Forbidden Planet stars a very young Leslie Nielsen in a surprisingly serious role. That was probably one of the main reasons I picked this film as my gateway to vintage sci-fi. The movie was photographed in Eastman Color which I would guess is a pretty big deal because they tell you this right at the begining. And honestly for a movie from 1956 the quality of the picture and colors is really impressive. There are a lot of special effects going on, despite serious technical limitations, they do set the atmosphere just right. In many cases I prefer these old school methods to modern CGI –Jurassic Park vs. Jurassic World anyone? Props to the FX crew.
The acting and directing are a bit over the top with a lot of dramatic and sudden changes of behavior. The whole thing looks very theatrical and dramatic; add that to the bizarre set and plot and you get a very theater-like experience.
The plot has everything you’d imagine a ’50s sci-fi would have: Spaceships with all-male military crew, huge and funky looking gears, dialogues with scientific-sounding nonsense, a humanoid robot that can barely move, stereotypical gullible and sexualized young blond girl that’s the target of an awful lot of sexist remarks and exploitation attempts, Freudian psychology, and unknown technology from lost alien races. They say it’s a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but honestly I haven’t read that play so I wouldn’t know.
The part where this movie shines the brightest is the music score. It simply couldn’t get any more futuristic. What I didn’t know when I was watching the movie, is that it was the first ever completely electronic film score. I can hear the influence of Bebe and Louis Barron’s iconic new sound in many sci-fi and horror movies to this day.
All that said, I think you can enjoy watching this movie both ironically and un-ironically. My suggestion for you if you decided to watch this movie is to watch it late at night in the dark for a more immersive experience. The cinematography looks like a dream albeit cheesy so you may want to consider watching it half-sleep or under some kind of influence. The planet’s landscape is amazing.
Have fun. Bonus: Killian Eng’s Beautiful Poster For ‘Forbidden Planet’.
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