November 14, 2006
Forbidden Planet: Special Anniversary Edition
Considered the sci-fi film given a large budget by a film studio, Forbidden Planet (nominated for a Best Special Effects Oscar in 1957, which it lost - to Ten Commandments!) is famous for being "the film with Robbie the Robot" - but there's much more to it than that. The film's plot is actually inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, transposed to outer space: a ship, helmed by a pre-comedic Leslie Nielsen, is sent to rescue a lost expedition on desolate planet Altair-4. There they discover scientist Dr. Morbius (longtime MGM star Walter Pidgeon) and his lovely daughter Alta (Anne Francis, who co-starred with Pigeon in Funny Girl a decade later), living alive and well in a utopic existence along side the robotic servant (slave) Robby. But something sinister is also among them...
The new two-disc special Anniversary Edition DVD is a sight for sore eyes: a new transfer with digitally cleaned-up color, image and encoding - a marked improvement over the previous DVD. Extras abound, too: A new documentary rounds up Anne France as well alongside a number of critics and experts such as Dennis Muren, effects guru Phil Tippett and Bill Warren who reveal why Forbidden Planet was such a touchstone for future effects-laden genre pictures; the TCM doc "Watch the Skies!" offers preeminent modern sci-fi directors Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Carpenter, Ridley Scott and James Cameron talking about both the film's influence and 50s Sci-Fi; another featurette on the design and construction of Robby the Robot (too bad there's no interview with R2-D2 discussing Robby's influence); and, perhaps most oddly, an entire episode of "The Thin Man" TV series, in which Robby makes a guest cameo (the disc also offers a second feature with Robby, 1957's "The Invisible Boy.") All in all, Forbidden Planet celebrates its anniversary in style with this delightful new DVD package.
Note: I haven't seen it up close and personal, but MGM is also releasing a special "Ultimate Collector's Edition" being released at the same time as the above. It's got the same two discs, but apparently also comes in a special collectible tin box, and comes with a Robby the Robot figurine along with other goodies. Geek out!
Posted by cphillips at November 14, 2006 3:14 PM