Forum feature: Forbidden Planet

Venturing inside the eye of the mind.

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Some might think that I’m being too grandiloquent about a film that, let’s be honest, was made over fifty years ago. But age doesn’t necessarily dampen the quality of a product, unless we’re talking about Eighties cop shows. Forbidden Planet has had far-reaching consequences in the genre – without it, Star Trek wouldn’t exist, the Great Machine of Epsilon 3 in Babylon 5 is a clear reference to that of the Krell (indeed, Babylon 5 creator J Michael Straczynski is working on a remake as this is being written), and it has been referenced in everything from Halloween to Serenity. Let’s also not forget that Robby The Robot was reused in other science fiction properties such as Twilight Zone and Lost In Space, while the huge, full-size mockup of C57-D’s interior was also used in the former.

new forbiden planet FORBIDDEN_PLANET-19A good film is one that you like to watch over and over again. A great film is one that you never tire of seeing, one that you’re reminded of in day-to-day life, and one that you can view whether you’re happy or sad, angry or content, wistful or pragmatic. It’s one that forces your mind to open its imagination to another world, that engages with your personality on a basic level and one that demands you hit the rewind button once the end credits roll. Forbidden Planet is that film for me, and it seems, most of the science fiction community. They’ve even named the largest SF-themed chain store after it. It’s a simple, and quite sad, fact that they simply don’t make them like this any more – it’s hard to think of any recent releases that have the same real, lived-in quality as director Walter M Wilcox’s effort. Are other films in contention for this magazine’s title of the greatest film ever really comparable to Forbidden Planet? Perhaps. Star Wars brought the same world building quality to the screen, Blade Runner pushed the realms of technical achievement, Planet Of The Apes felt like an all-encompassing, albeit terrifying, universe and ET had the story on its side. None of them, however, have so comprehensively delivered all of that in a single package in the way that this film has. And none of them, as much as I love the films on our shortlist, have had the same longevity for me, and the same adoration from me, as this exceptional effort. Truly, if any film in science fiction is going to be crowned the king of them all, it has to be Forbidden Planet. Otherwise we may as well start giving Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen four stars from now on, because very little can even hold a candle to the story that took place on Altair IV.

To find out more about this exciting phase in SciFiNow’s forum feature, hit the link and check out the other movies that made our shortlist.

Don’t forget to log on to our forums to discuss the films on our shortlist, and to read any of the other articles in this series as they are written, click on the title below.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Blade Runner
Planet Of The Apes
Forbidden Planet
ET The Extra-Terrestrial
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Alien
The Matrix
2001: A Space Odyssey
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

This article originally appeared in the print edition of SciFiNow issue 39 by James Rundle. To buy a copy of the magazine or subscribe, go to www.imagineshop.com, or call our subscriptions hotline on +44 (0) 844 844 0245.