Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Forbidden Planet: An Introduction

This is what the captain of a spaceship looks like.

The beautiful woman knows he can protect her.

That particular captain is protecting her
from her own father. Her father built the robot
that is carrying the captain’s unconscious friend
to help around the house and be a companion
for his daughter who had to grow up by herself
far from Earth on a planet of the star Altair.

The captain of the spaceship has a fancy gun
but in fact he won’t need it because her father
will commit suicide when he realizes
his love for his daughter is going to kill her
rather than let her fly away on the spaceship.

And after the beautiful woman’s father dies
the robot he built himself will help his daughter
fly away on the spaceship with the brave captain.

A lot of the men who report to the captain
die particularly gruesome and painful deaths
and the beautiful woman’s father dies, tortured
by the knowledge that his love made him a monster,
but the brave captain and the beautiful woman
have each other and all the stars and the future.

Of course some stars go nova or supernova
and don’t get to participate in the future
but that’s just astrophysics: That’s only science.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Okay. So, I’ve mentioned the movie “Forbidden Planet” four times (well, now five) here at the blog:

Martha And The Alchemy Of Doors

Throwing Rocks At Tin Cans

Where The Scorpion Sits Down For Tea

Everything Is Out Of Order

Here’s some background. When I was younger—I mean like a pre-teen kid, and then later as a teenager—I watched “Forbidden Planet” a lot. It came out in 1956, so it was already on TV when I was growing up.

But I had never watched the movie since I was a kid. I mean, I’ve talked about it a lot with other science fiction fans and I’ve read a lot of reviews and discussions of the film, but I hadn’t actually sat down myself and re-watched the movie in a very long time.

But since I’ve posted so often about the film and since I anticipated doing more posts about the film, I went over to Amazon a couple of weeks ago and bought the special edition, two-disc anniversary edition of the movie.

And to be honest I was a bit shocked when I watched it.

I had remembered it as a “science fiction” film. I remembered, of course, the plot of the father’s id creating the monster and all that. But mostly I remembered the technology.

When I watch the movie now, the movie seems almost insane.

The entire story is built around grown men acting like, say, thirteen year old boys.

And I’m sure grown men do, a lot, act like thirteen year old boys. But not all the time, and not in emergency situations.

It is so weird to watch a movie as an adult when you have strong memories of how you reacted to the movie as a kid.

In the science fiction world, there has always been a kind of friendly rivalry between fans of a film called, “This Island Earth” which came out in 1955, and fans of “Forbidden Planet” which came out one year later in 1956.

I’d always taken sides with “Forbidden Planet” because I had remembered the interesting parts of the plot about the ancient civilization that had destroyed itself and the cool spaceship and the beautiful girl.

Now, however, having watched both films again, I am a bit at sea.

“Forbidden Planet” now just seems insane to me, with these characters behaving in ways no real human beings would behave. But, on the other hand, art and entertainment isn’t really expected to be a documentary. Characters don’t have to act “real.”

So I’m going to be giving this more thought.

But I wanted to do another post about “Forbidden Planet” to sort of bring things up-to-date.

And that’s where things stand right now. I’m kind of chagrinned, that as a kid I never noticed how weird the actual story was here. Certainly some science fiction fans had questioned this movie, especially when compared with the real “nuts and bolts” characters in “This Island Earth” who built interocitors and didn’t let their love turn them into monsters.

I don’t know. Some things take time to think through.

Pretty soon the Summer Triangle will be high in the sky, and the real star Altair will be bright in the south.

I’ll be giving all this more thought and I’ll do another post sooner or later.

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