This marvelous old movie tells an entertaining and thought-provoking story in which humans encounter the technology of an extinct alien race, and is fun to watch for its own sake. But for a modern viewer, it’s also fun to look for the science fiction trends this very influential film initiated. An intrepid cruiser captain leading his crew through encounters with aliens and philosophical quandaries, for example, will be familiar to Star Trek fans. As for the cast, Leslie Nielsen plays the stalwart hero, in the first phase of his acting career before he went on to become one of the world’s greatest comedy stars. And the Robbie the Robot created for this movie became a sort of a star himself, either as the same “character” or when the suit was re-used as other robots for several Twilight Zones and other productions. Last but not least, Forbidden Planet is a visually rich experience because it came from the era when color filming was still fairly new and colors were bright and vivid, and because the Disney studio loaned out some of its animators to create the film’s monster. It was a time when special effects were less of a technological feat and more of a work of art, making for a viewing experience quite different from modern science fiction. And adding to the alien mood, there’s the eerie, one-of-a-kind soundtrack produced entirely by analog electronic instruments. Forbidden Planet is one of those rare things which really is as good as you’ve heard it to be.

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