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“Forbidden Planet”: National Film Registry 30/30

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The following is part of a 30-post series on the Library’s Now See Hear! blog celebrating 30 years of our National Film Registry, which selects 25 films each year showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation. The 30th National Film Registry selections will be announced next month. This post was written by Cary O’Dell, boards assistant to the National Film Preservation Board and the National Recording Preservation Board.

Poster for "Forbidden Planet"We are only days away from the latest announcement about the newest 25 films being  added to the National Film Registry.  That big reveal will occur on December 12, 2018.  In the meantime, take a new look at “Forbidden Planet,” the classic MGM science fiction film that was named to the Registry in 2013.

Based loosely on “The Tempest,” and the film debut of Robby the Robot–soon to have a long career on both film and television–author Ian Olney recaps the film and gives some of the reasons it earned its spot on the Registry by saying:

Visually stunning and thematically rich, Fred M.Wilcox’s ‘Forbidden Planet’ is a landmark film in science-fiction cinema. Set in the twenty-third century, it tells the story of a United Planets space cruiser sent to the distant world of Altair IV to investigate the fate of a group of colonists with whom Earth has lost contact. Upon landing, the ship’s commander J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) and his crew learn that most of the colonists are dead, the victims of a mysterious planetary force. The sole survivors are a scientist, Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), and his teenage daughter Altaira (Anne Francis), who live comfortably in a fortified home, their needs tended to by a mechanical servant, Robby the Robot. Morbius insists that he and Altaira are perfectly safe and demands that their would-be rescuers leave them in peace.

Read the rest of the Olney “Forbidden Planet” (PDF) essay.

Title:  “Forbidden Planet”
Year of Release:  1956
Year Added to the National Film Registry:  2013
See a sortable list of all films on the National Film Registry.
Trivia:  This film was the debut feature film of Leslie Nielsen.

Subscribe to the Now See Hear! blog and read about another great film every day up until Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announces the 30th anniversary National Film Registry selections on December 12, 2018.

Comments (3)

  1. Ironically, my main association with Forbidden Planet is the opening song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is itself on the National Film Registry.

  2. Walter Pigeon was great in this movie. His character had no idea it was he himself causing the destruction.

  3. Forbidden Planet is a cool Sci-fi story, but the most important and unbelievable thing for the Captain of the ship, is to commit the first act of industrial pollution on Altair-4, and after smoking a cigarette (astronauts smoke in the future), he drops it down onto the ground. It was the culmination of billions of years of Altair-4’s evolution, and an earthman drops his cigarette butt into Altair-4’s dirt! (p.68 of the Bantam Books 1956 edition) Only an earthman would do that!

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