Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top 20 Movies That Influenced My Life #19

I consider Forbidden Planet to be the Father of Star Trek. This 1956 gem had all that a young boy's imagination needed to fuel a sense of wonderment and adventure. It had a dashing young captain, played by a pre-Airplane very straight leading man, Leslie Nielson. It had a beautiful nymph of a young woman, played by a gorgeous, young Anne Francis that had me dreaming of what it would be like to be older for many nights. It had a very intelligent but mysterious scientist, played by Walter Pidgeon who introduced me to the idea that science was needed to understand the questions of the universe and that brute force would lead to disaster. It had the mysterious Krell who were never seen, but play a major role like ghosts in the machine. Finally it had Robbie the Robot, who was both savior and comedian. What was there not to like by an 11 year old boy?
One of the themes I will return to throughout this series of movies that influenced my life is the theme that what makes a movie stand out is that it speaks to me (and perhaps to us) differently as we grow up. So it is with Forbidden Planet. What I saw and understood as a young boy, though engaging and full of wonder, did not come to full fruition until many years later when I understood some of the more thought provoking aspects of this film.
I first saw this on an afternoon on a black and white television. I remember being mesmerized by the dashing and chivalrous captain as he both sought to understand the mysteries of Altair IV, protect his crew, and protect the girl. I was too young to notice the over-acting being displayed. (It set me up perfectly for Captain Kirk when he showed up a few years later.)
Robbie the Robot was both cool and at the same time funny. The "monster" created by the Disney folks for this was both frightening and mysterious.
When I finally got to see this a few years later in a theatre on a summer afternoon, I was truly in popcorn heaven. I loved it it even more. Seeing it on the big screen and in Technicolor was way too cool. When Star Trek came around a few years later, I was primed and ready to go.
Watching it again years later as an adult, I was still able to evoke that innocent childlike sense of adventure but became impressed by the messages and deeper (though not too deep) meaning. Of course, basing anything on Shakespeare is nearly a guarantee that what is presented will be thought provoking. I may not have "gotten it" the first time I saw it, but one of the main themes of the movie is that "thoughts are powerful and can be destructive". The machines of the Krell literally make this true.
So here's to powerful thoughts, beautiful young women, dashing young captains and Robbie the Robot. May we always have adventures of the mind that are thought provoking and never lose a sense of fun!

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