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  • Writer's pictureChristopher McHale

Where is the Forbidden Planet?

I wanted to listen to the music but I got so much more.

I watched ‘Fobidden Planet’ yesterday— starship crew in the 23rd century goes to investigate the silence of a distant planet's colony, only to find just two survivors, a powerful robot, and the deadly secret of a lost civilization. Written by

Cyril Home, directed by Fred Wilcox, I always saw this 1956 film as inspiration for Star Trek. Leslie Neilsen plays the ship captain in an unintentional foreshadowing of his future comedic roles in movies like ‘Airplane!’ and ‘Naked Gun.’

I watched to listen the iconic electronic score, pre-BBC Radiophonic Workshop, ground-breaking and wild music and sound design, created mainly by Bebe and Louis Baron. That score is one reason this film is a treasure.

But something else struck me, as corny as this movie is it carried an unblinking optimism about the future. I grew up with ‘Forbidden Planet.’ The current generation of kids are surrounded by dire and apocalyptic visions of the future.

Today, as the UN Climate Conference kicks off, the messages and warnings of the Forbidden Planet are more pressing for us than ever.

What are the warnings and predictions in this classic?

The film gets into the dangers of advanced technology and knowledge, especially when humanity is not prepared to handle it responsibly. The Krell civilization, whose technology is discovered by the human characters, serves as a cautionary tale of a society destroyed by its own inventions.

One of the central themes is the power of the unconscious mind and repressed desires. Man, that’s crazy 50s stuff, but it still rings true.

The effects of isolation and alienation caused by obsessing with technology we don’t truly understand. Hello, 2024 obsession with AI?

The film also touches on themes of exploration and colonialism, as the crew of the spaceship explores a new and mysterious world, encountering the remnants of an advanced alien civilization. This raises questions about the ethics and consequences of human expansion into unknown territories. Feels very Trekkie to me.

The conflict between humans and technology is a recurring theme, highlighting the struggle to control and understand powerful, otherworldly forces that ultimately prove to be beyond human control, emphasizing the potential perils of technological overreach.

The film underscores the importance of moral responsibility in the use of technology and knowledge. The tragic fate of the Krell and the destructive potential of their inventions serve as a reminder of the need for ethical considerations in scientific and technological endeavors. It reminds of the blatant copyright violations of AI built on unethical datasets.

Where is the Forbidden Planet?

We live on the Forbidden Planet.


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