le 9 décembre 2014
FORBIDDEN PLANET  [Limited Edition SteelBook] [Blu-ray] [UK Release] Amazing!
A dutiful robot named Robby speaks 188 languages. An underground lair provides astonishing evidence of a populace a million years more advanced than Earthlings. There are many wonders on Altair-4, but none is greater or more deadly than the human mind. `Forbidden Planet' is the granddaddy of tomorrow, a pioneering works whose ideas and style would be reverse-engineered into many cinematic space voyages to come. Leslie Nielsen portrays the commander who brings his space cruiser crew to the green-skied Altair-4 world that's home to Dr. Morbius [Walter Pidgeon], his daughter [Anne Francis], the remarkable Robby the Robot and to a mysterious terror. Narrated by Les Tremayne.
FILM FACT: At a cost of roughly $125,000, Robby the Robot was very expensive for a single film prop at this time. The animated sequences of 'Forbidden Planet,' especially the attack of the "Id Monster," were created by the veteran animator Joshua Meador, who was loaned out to M-G-M by Walt Disney Pictures. The film was entered into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 2013, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
Cast: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Robby the Robot (Himself), Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Richard Anderson, Earl Holliman, George Wallace, Bob Dix, Jimmy Thompson, James Drury, Harry Harvey, Jr., Roger McGee, Peter Miller, Morgan Jones, Richard Grant, Frankie Darro (stuntman inside Robby the Robot) (uncredited), Marvin Miller (voice of Robby the Robot) (uncredited), James Best (uncredited) and William Boyett (uncredited)
Director: Fred M. Wilcox
Producer: Nicholas Nayfack
Screenplay: Cyril Hume
Composers: Louis and Bebe Barron
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.41:1 [CinemaScope]
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: Dolby Digital Mono, German: Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono, Latin Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono and Portuguese: Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Spanish, Spanish SDH and Portuguese
Running Time: 98 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Home Video / M-G-M
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: 'Forbidden Planet' is one of those rare science fiction films that are admired even by filmgoers who don't usually enjoy the genre. Though originally intended for younger audiences, Forbidden Planet draws on real sci-fi ideas and boasts a ground-breaking electronic music score that gives it unexpected substance. In fact, the basic storyline is based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest" but it's a free adaptation and if you recognise the source fine, but it's not essential to your enjoyment of the film.
The basic premise of 'Forbidden Planet' would serve as the blueprint for a slew of sci-fi films and TV shows in its wake such as the television series, Star Trek. The film opens with the approach of Cruiser C-57D toward Altira IV, a planet with a strange history. It seems an exploration ship vanished there twenty years earlier. The cruiser's crew commander [Leslie Nielsen] discovers that only two people are left from the previous expedition: the scientist Morbius [Walter Pidgeon] and his beautiful daughter Altaira [Anne Francis]. These two have built a home above the remains of an ancient civilization (one of the benefits of which is their servant Robby the Robot). However, Morbius surprisingly refuses to return to Earth, a decision that becomes all the more mysterious when an invisible force attacks the ship.
'Forbidden Planet' was initially conceived as a much different and decidedly cheaper film. The producer/writer/special effects team of Allen Adler and Irving Block ran a popular optical effects company, working on numerous schlock films but also classics like `The Night of the Hunter' . They came up with the idea for something called Fatal Planet as a potential project for one of the B-movie studios. Instead they pitched it to the high-rollers at M-G-M, a process that required the duo to act out the story, including an impersonation of the invisible monster, for the benefit of the investors. To everybody's surprise, the studio decided to make this their first science fiction film with a budget at $1 million, later expanding it to almost double that amount.
For the script they enlisted novelist Cyril Hume, a descendant of philosopher David Hume whose main claim to film was writing screenplays for the popular Tarzan series, he also worked on the first version of 'Ransom'  and Nicholas Ray's classic melodrama, 'Bigger Than Life' . Luckily, David Hume's script for 'Forbidden Planet' brings unusual depth to what might have been yet another tacky science fiction film. It also has its down side: M-G-M insisted David Hume added several "humorous" scenes revolving around the ship's cook, Cookie [Earl Holliman]. Interestingly enough, a scene where the cook's constant comments about the scarcity of women on the planet are answered by Robby bringing him a female chimp was never filmed.
'Forbidden Planet' was made inside M-G-M studios (except for a handful of shots) and used a 10,000 foot circular painting as a backdrop. One oddity about 'Forbidden Planet' is that the film we see today is more or less an unfinished rough cut. What happened is that experimental composers Louis and Bebe Barron had been asked to supply the music for the film. They'd previously only scored a few avant-garde shorts. It would turn out to be a landmark score, utilising only generated sounds, and no conventional instruments like violins or pianos, and paved the way for both new forms of film scoring and for a more open approach to music. But the studio was a bit uneasy about the eerie score so they arranged a sneak preview to see how audiences would react. The response was so positive that M-G-M decided to release the film as it was, not even letting the editor tighten up the pacing or rework some rough patches.
Robby the Robot was such a hit that he was used again the following year for `The Invisible Boy'  but then vanished from the screen until a cameo in 1984's Gremlins, where he reuses some dialogue from `Forbidden Planet.' The 6-foot, 11-inch creation required a person inside to man the controls as well as some outside electronic manipulation, none of which kept Robby from occasionally toppling over and one popular rumour reported that Robby was a drunk. The robot's voice was supplied by Marvin Miller who did vocal chores on projects ranging from MASH to Electra Woman and Dyna Girl though he also did acting in front of the camera, and he was the guy giving out checks on the TV show The Millionaire. Miller even won two Grammies for audio versions of Dr. Seuss stories.
The mysterious marauding monster was the creation of Walt Disney animators, one of the few times they have ever worked on an outside film. But it's the unique look of the surreal landscapes of Altira IV to the detailed spaceship to the design of the strange underground civilization that earned the film an Academy Award® nomination for Best Special Effects.
If you are a hard-core `Forbidden Planet' fan, here are some more fun trivia facts. For example, actor Harry Harvey Jr., who plays Randall in the film, has also appeared in exploitation classics and ended his career with an uncredited role as a slave in 'Spartacus' . James Drury (future star of the TV series, The Virginian, 1962) and James Best 'Shock Corridor'  also turn up in supporting roles. Also, you might notice a sudden jump in a scene toward the end of the film that looks like something was cut: It was but not by TCM. The filmmakers wanted to speed things up and just clipped out a few seconds thinking nobody would ever care.
To sum up about this classic sci-fi film, jaded viewers with distaste for classic cinema will find plenty to sneer at with this widely influential film, but it's their loss. `Forbidden Planet' is a crowd-pleaser that's quite a bit more intelligent than it lets on at first glance, and even though this is a film that rang in its fiftieth anniversary several years ago, the scale of its ambition and unparalleled craftsmanship never cease to fascinate me. `Forbidden Planet' remains one of the most startlingly imaginative and visually entrancing science fiction films ever produced. This is a seminal work of sci-fi cinema, and it's greatly appreciated to see that Warner Bros. has lavished the film with the treatment on Blu-ray that it so richly deserves very high praise indeed!
Blu-ray Video Quality ' Warner Home Video does right by 'Forbidden Planet,' gracing the film with a strong, sometimes breath-taking, and always filmic beautiful 1080p encoded image and aspect ratio 2.41:1 framed transfer. From even the opening title sequence, the film's signature yellow and rounded credits and viewers will be impressed with the quality of the image. The text is crisp, sharp, and wonderfully coloured, setting a fantastic tone and raising expectations that are at least met and sometimes surpassed throughout the remainder of the film. Although some white speckles and a few stray vertical lines appear intermittently throughout the film, Warner's Blu-ray delivers the goods, retaining a nicely-preserved layer of grain that lends to the picture a handsome film-like texture. Fine detailing is marvellous, whether both the metallic body and the intricate little nuances that make up Robby the Robot, the rocky terrains of Altair, the crew's uniforms, or even the nicely-detailed matte paintings that look great and never stand out as too terribly obvious. Colours are stable and honest, with no hue appearing under saturated or over-boosted. The clarity of the 1080p transfer even reveals a few obvious wire effects throughout the film. Of all the films in Warner's catalogue, Forbidden Planet is one that demands the finest visual presentation possible, and the studio has certainly done right by this important classic.
Blu-ray Audio Quality ' The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds surprisingly defect free in contrast to the image. Louis and Bebe Barron's electronic tonalities are outstanding. They're the most prevalent element within the surrounds, sounding eerie and otherworldly, seemingly throughout the film. Otherwise, there's mild to faint ambiance, particularly creating echo in some of the Krells' cavernous rooms. The dynamics are not consistent, as Walter Pidgeon's voice frequently sounds flat. Most of the dialogue is clear as it plays out the front centre channel, except one scene when Morbius is playing Krell music, which momentarily plays louder than his dialogue, though I wasn't clear if it was intentional. Sounds are positioned across the fronts and there's good imaging when the Star cruiser moves across the frame as the steel shutters of Morbius' home pop up across the building.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: Warner Home Video brings 'Forbidden Planet' to high-definition on this Blu-ray disc housed inside a beautiful designed Limited Edition Embossed SteelBook inside and out. The disc skips the menus and goes right to the film which as stated above is All Regions. All the extras are the same as the 50th Anniversary inferior NTSC DVD that came out in 2006.
Special Feature: Come Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us  [56:00] Narrated by Mark Hamill, this hour long documentary from Turner Classic Movies features Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, James Cameron, and Ridley Scott excitedly discussing their favourite '50s sci-fi flicks and how these films were such a reflection of their times. Forbidden Planet is not surprisingly lavished with quite a bit of attention, and among the other films they touch on are `Destination Moon,' `The Incredible Shrinking Man,' `Them!,' `Rocketship X-M,' `The Monolith Monsters,' `Invaders from Mars,' `The Day the Earth Stood Still,' `The Space Children' and 'War of the Worlds.'
Special Feature: Amazing: Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet  [27:00] This exceptionally well-researched retrospective presents interviews with much of the surviving cast and crew of Forbidden Planet, including stars Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen, as well as a number of sci-fi historians and some of the seminal film's more famous fans. This aptly-titled documentary offers a very comprehensive look at the production of the film, including glimpses of conceptual art, test footage, early monster designs, and unobscured shots of the cell-free Walt Disney animation.
Special Feature: Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon  [14:00] Here we have several of the same interviewees pop up a second time for this documentary, one of several extras anchored around Robby the Robot. The documentary notes Robby's washing machine-inspired design, the role M-G-M's leather department and former Lockheed machinists played in its creation, a run through of how Robby functions by current owner and 'Forbidden Planet' super fan William Malone, as well as the robot's enduring popularity.
Deleted Scenes and Lost Footage  [22:00] There are twenty-two minutes of additional material leftover from filming, although the tantalizingly titled "lost footage" is really just nine minutes of cropped effects plates, offering fans a glimpse of how some of these elements looked in their unfinished states. The thirteen minutes of deleted scenes, properly letterboxed but culled from what looks like 18th-generation VHS, are of far more interest. Some of these aren't actually deleted scenes; there's a good bit of extended dialogue along with an alternate voice for Robby, for instance. One full scene was yanked for its dodgy special effects, following Robby's land cruiser as it races across the alien landscape, and a couple others liken Alta's rapport with her animals to the unicorn myth. This material was justifiably trimmed out of the film, but it's still interesting to see what could have been.
Special Feature: The Invisible Boy Movie: The 1957 "sequel" to `Forbidden Planet' [89:00] Warner Bros. doesn't boast about this on the cover art, but this special edition of 'Forbidden Planet' is actually a double feature, sharing the bill with 1957's `The Invisible Boy.' This endearingly kitschy family flick gave M-G-M a chance to squeeze a little more money out of their hefty investment in 'Forbidden Planet.' Timmy thinks his newfound robot pal Robby is too overprotective, so he uses his scientist pop's supercomputer to strip out a couple of Asimov's laws, unwittingly setting into motion a nefarious plot that threatens the survival of the human race. Oh! Almost forgot: Timmy can turn invisible. `The Invisible Boy' is whimsical and altogether childlike early on, but it takes a darker, more sinister turn as the movie progresses, feeling like more of a "that's armageddon!" 1950s sci-fi film than mindlessly chipper childlike fare. The anamorphic widescreen, black and white presentation is surprisingly good, especially considering that the movie is only being tacked on as an extra.
Special Feature: Excerpts from M-G-M Parade Episodes 7 and 28  [4:3] [7:00] Walter Pidgeon promotes `Forbidden Planet' in these two brief excerpts from the television series MGM Parade. Fun for fans of this classic Hollywood. Too bad they didn't include entire pieces.
Special Feature: The Thin Man: Robot Client [TV Episode]  [26:00] Here is featured here is a full 1958 episode of Peter Lawford's The Thin Man in which Robby the Robot stands accused of gasp! Murder.
Theatrical Trailers: 'Forbidden Planet'  and 'The Invisible Boy' 
Finally, Totally Amazing! Even with more than a half-century having passed since Forbidden Planet first soared into theatres, it remains one of the most dazzlingly imaginative and visually entrancing sci-fi films ever produced. Its ambitious scale and pervasive sense of wonder have rarely been rivalled in the many decades since. Boasting a breathtakingly gorgeous high definition presentation and a slew of worthwhile extras, `Forbidden Planet' is an essential purchase for anyone with even the slightest interest in science fiction. Overall, if you are at all into this genre of 1950's sci-fi classics this ranks up with some of the best like 'This Island Earth,' 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' and `Invasion of the Body Snatchers.' A definite must-own Limited Edition SteelBook Blu-ray that has a great honour to now go into my ever expanding Blu-ray SteelBook Collection. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller ' Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom