The Good

This film should be Exhibit A about why people love science fiction.

The Bad

Amidst all these extras there's no commentary track?

Forbidden Planet is a highly interesting science fiction film in that it deals with the human race being advanced enough to have people live on other planets. The story is both simple and compelling. Dr. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) and his team are sent to a suddenly quiet planet that has been populated with scientists from Earth. Upon their arrival they realize that only Dr. Mobius (Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter Altaira (Anne Francis) are still alive after their group was attacked by a monster. Aside from this looking a little odd, Dr. Adams soon realizes that Dr. Mobius knows more than he is letting on, and we see just what lengths Mobius is set to go to in order to hide a discovery has also made on this planet.

While the story of Forbidden Planet ultimately plays itself out like a lot of other sci fi tales, what really made this film work was the interesting premise of their being a colony in space populated by scientists. Even though the effects of the time were nothing that special, this film really seemed to bring off this story in a very solid way.

Features

Additional Scenes

Coming in at 98 minutes this movie certainly seems like it might play a little longer, and this assortment of deleted scenes shows that indeed it could have. However, in viewing this movie, it didn't feel like it was lacking anything but these scenes, which emphasized the characters more, were certainly nice to screen after I had watched this film. At their best, they show that maybe Forbidden Planet could have gone in a more ambiguous direction, or perhaps even emphasized the characters more.

Lost Footage

1958 MGM feature film The Invisible Boy and The Thin Man TV Series Episode "Robot Client"

These are two vehicles that featured the ever popular Robby the Robot. The Thin Man TV series episode gives us a classic portrayal of Robby the Robot, while The Invisible Boy goes a little deeper, but maybe because playing as a feature film it is longer. This film sees sees Robby working to try and stop a supercomputer from taking over the world. These offerings are classically sci fi to be sure, but watching them, it is easy to see why Robby was able to endear himself to so many people, and remains popular even today.

TCM Original Documentary "Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us"

Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet Featurette

This mini-documentary looks back at Forbidden Planet, the effects it employed, the story, and everything else it did to advance this genre as a whole. We also get to hear from people like science fiction movie expert Bill Warren as well as FX people such as Phil Tippet. Sometimes I don't really go for these things, but when they contain such strong fans and knowledgeable voices, I am all ears.

Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon Featurette

Video

Aspect Ratio: Widescreen - 2.35:1. I loved the look of this movie and while I had thought it might be in black and white, I was excited to be able to watch it in colors. Movies from the 1950s usually look good when compressed to DVD in black and white. When color is added to the equation, things take on a whole dimension. Everything seems heightened and there was something about the look on this DVD that made Forbidden Planet stand out. I can only guess how this movie might look in HD-DVD or Blu-ray.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1 - French Dolby Digital 1.0. If you have a taste for kitsch than the audio on this disc will really grab your attention. Things sounded really solid and considering that these assets are 50 years old (as the packaging states), I was honestly excited by the clarity of the dialogue, the ambient noises, and the score used in this movie. In many ways this film plays no different than other sci fi films, but it's the little things like good, intricate audio that really stand out.

Package

A finely detailed image of all the characters and iconic moments are on display on this front cover. We get Dr. Adams, Altaira, and Robby the Robot all present in finely detailed colors. The back of this cover shows us some more images from the film, a description of what this movie is about, a Special Features listing, a cast list, and system specs. Both of the discs in this collection are stored inside a two disc amaray case.

Final Word

As I was watching this film, I couldn't help but get excited about the fact that there are more films like this to be watched. Science Fiction is a very interesting genre because it deals with the real world, but in a very skewed way. A film like Forbidden Planet gives us a very hopeful future in some ways, but the fact that so many sci fi films deal with hostile aliens makes the thought of encountering them seem less than ideal. I often gravitate more to science fiction films that A) take place on earth, B) explain the sci fi elements in a way I can understand and C) don't need to rely that much on special effects. A big portion of why Forbidden Planet worked for me is because it was very much in the here and now, but by the same token it made a lot of allegories towards the world during the time that it was made.

Forbidden Planet was released March 23, 1956.