Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Friday, November 10, 2006

Forbidden Memories...

When I was about thirteen, I was sound asleep on a weeknight when my mom came in and gently shook me awake. She told me there was a movie coming on – "Planet something, with Robby the Robot?" – and asked me if I wanted to get up to watch it.

Now, I'd already been reading Starlog magazine for a couple years, so I knew that she had to be referring to Forbidden Planet – one of those old movies that the magazine frequently referenced between articles on Star Wars, Star Trek and Space: 1999, and one that I desperately desired to see. Of course, back in those pre-home video days, you couldn't just watch a movie whenever you wanted, you had to wait for it to come on television.

In this case, it was airing on the CBS Late Movie... on a school night.

Absolutely amazed that my mom would make such an a offer, considering the lateness of the hour and my scholastic responsibilities of the next day, I nonetheless quickly sprang from my bed and headed for my parent's room, where I sat silently on the edge of their bed while they slept, watching in rapt attention as the wonders of Altair 4 (in the constellation of Aquilae, some 17 light years from Earth) unfolded before my eyes.

There was Robby, of course, and the sinister Doctor Morbius. There was his daughter, the lovely Altaira (as portrayed by Anne Francis) and square-jawed Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen). But most astounding of all, there were the spectacular Krell laboratories, buried deep in the heart of an alien world with green skies, and the terrifying, unseen "Id Creature!"

When that invisible menace from Morbius' twisted subconscious attacked the heroes' space cruiser (a flying saucer!) and was illuminated by the ray blasts of their defensive cannons, I trembled with excitement – it was thrilling!

I'm pretty sure I had a rough time at school the next day, shuffling around like a teenage zombie, but the memory of that first viewing is still pretty vivid in my mind. It's also the only time I remember my folks indulging my love of sci-fi and fantasy in quite that way, and while I'm sure they've long forgotten the event, I never will.

Next week, Warner Home Video is re-releasing Forbidden Planet on DVD in both a 2-disc special edition and in an "Ultimate Collector's Edition." I can't afford either version right now, but when I can, it'll definitely be that collector's set that I spring for. Check it out!

Aside from a newly re-mastered transfer of the film itself, the set includes:
  • Additional scenes
  • Lost footage
  • Excerpts from the MGM Parade TV series
  • Two follow-up vehicles starring Robby the Robot: 1958 MGM feature film The Invisible Boy and The Thin Man TV Series Episode "Robot Client"
  • Three documentaries
  • Science-fiction movie trailer gallery
  • Vintage memorabilia
  • Robby the Robot replica!
  • Collectible packaging
  • Mail-in offer for a reproduction of an Original Forbidden Planet theatrical poster
To today's audiences, Forbidden Planet may seem slow or cheesy, but to me, it will always have a special place in my movie-loving heart. Beyond the nostalgia factor, it's a smart, styish, science fiction classic on an unprecedented epic scale, both thoughtful and suspenseful. The look of the film is pure 50's pulp, and the "electronic tonalities" that comprise the film's background score are still eerily chilling today.

Plus, it has Robby the Robot. And there has never been a cooler automaton.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am always asking some of the younger guys at Target, have you seen Forbidden Planet? Today I asked the produce guy: "do you have Soylent Green?'
Sadly on these questions No is the answer. I have sung the praises of this landmark movie. I hope one of them take my tip to view FP.
I constantly see or hear new things in FP.
Brilliant movie on all levels.
The box set DVD is great.
I was wondering if the laser Disc has more features?
Best Wishes Vince