Shakespeare 400 - Forbidden Planet

Part of Shakespeare 400 On Screen, presented in association with the University of Ottawa

Shakespeare 400One classic has begotten another in this 1956 science fiction film based on The Tempest. Its groundbreaking special effects and electronic music score as well as its many ‘firsts’ influenced numerous later landmarks of the genre and have guaranteed it a place in the sci-fi pantheon.

Poster art for Forbidden PlanetProspero has become a space-travelling scientist (Walter Pidgeon) marooned on a distant planet with his daughter (Anne Francis), and with his scientific ‘magic’ he has harnessed the awesome powers of the planet’s former inhabitants. Ariel is now Robbie The Robot (the first movie robot with a real personality), while Caliban appears in the psychoanalytic shape of a ‘monster from the Id’.

The film can simply be enjoyed as a nostalgic throwback to 1950s flying-saucer fare. It is also, however, both timely in its evocation of human-made destructive forces and timeless in the profound reflections on human psychology it shares with Shakespeare’s final conjuring.

– Joerg Esleben, University of Ottawa


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