Hey, listen! Do you ever stop and think about how technology could be dangerous for people in the future? Yeah, I do, too–I think about it all the time. For example, what if one day we invented a super-computer that could turn your all your thoughts into real-life…even your most evil, messed-up, “I-wanna-punch-baby-pigeons” thoughts??
Well, now you don’t have to think about it any more because there is a great old movie that addresses that eventuality and it’s called FORBIDDEN PLANET! And the plot basically goes like this: Commander J. J. Adams leads his ship’s crew into deep space on a mission to renew contact with a long-lost colony that had been living on the mysterious planet, Altair-4. However, when Adams arrives, he and his men quickly discover that nearly the entire colony has perished! The only two survivors are the austere, well groomed Doctor Morbius and his perpetually half-clothed daughter, Altaira.
Dr. Edward Morbius is a scientific genius and the self-proclaimed steward of the Forbidden Planet. I don’t know what he’s a doctor of, but it sure ain’t child development. He’s managed to stunt his 20-something daughter’s emotional maturity so much, she makes Miley Cyrus look like Indira Gandhi. But, how did all the other colonists get killed? We’re led to believe that a primitive, deadly force residing within the planet wiped them out. But the truth about what happened is something much, much less interesting!
Now, then. I can’t help but feel that it’s my responsibility, as the foremost authority on classic American cinema currently occupying this restroom stall, to try to point out some of the more subtle themes that pervade this movie.* So pay attention:
Right off the bat, you’ll notice something missing in the Commander’s crew…namely females. They’re all men. This might seem a little odd or even f*cked up but you have to realize that this film is from 1956, before they invented women with jobs. It’s important to keep in mind the era that any given movie comes from, even if the era was stupid.
You also might take note of the costumes. Sociologists agree that in the coming centuries, clothing for men will become more elaborate, versatile, and functional while women’s clothing will evolve into little more than a few inadequate scraps of transparent cloth held in place by an uncomfortable leather strap. This is a concept that is embraced by all the most forward-thinking sci-fi screenwriters in Hollywood and I, for one, am fine with it. If you disagree with this perspective, well then my friend, you disagree with progress!
I hinted earlier that the true fate of the missing colony is sort of a surprise ending: It wasn’t a mysterious alien force that killed them at all…it was in fact a deadly beast created by the subconscious mind of Dr. Morbius! In his studies of the planet’s history, he unwittingly discovered a technology that could bring nightmares to life!
(I suppose I should have put “Spoiler-Alert” before that last paragraph. Sorry.)
This got me thinking about what screwed-up crap I would conjure from my brain. I don’t know about you, but I stopped having nightmares about monsters and aliens by the time I turned 12. As a teen my bad dreams, of course, revolved around girls and getting beat up by girls. And as a mature adult my nightmares are usually about poorly-lit highway restrooms. But what are the darkest, vilest thoughts that exist in the subconscious of Doctor Morbius (who seems to be in his 60’s, but looks younger because of his friggin awesome goatee)? Evidently they amount to one gigantic, scaly, bug-eyed beast that would be very at home in any Saturday-morning cartoon. Silly doctor!
(…Hold on. Excuse me for a sec…)**
Okay, I’m back. Anyway, you should watch the movie yourself sometime, and form your own pointless opinions. Below is a short clip to get you started: