Forbidden Planet

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Forbidden Planet Movie Poster Image
Classic '50s sci-fi flick is campy fun.
  • NR
  • 1956
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Speculative notions of space travel and life on another planet are more imaginative than educational, but give a glimpse of 1950s-era space fantasies and special effects. The invisible monster, the Id, takes its name and nature from Freud's concept of the id, which Dr. Morbius briefly explains.  

Positive Messages

Human emotions like anger and jealousy are powerful destructive forces. Also, be careful what you create with science -- if it gets out of control, it can destroy its creator. Commander Adams sees Dr. Morbius' undoing as a cautionary tale, reminding us that "after all, we are not God." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Commander Adams is a typically brave leader of his spaceship. Dr. Morbius is a flawed scientific genius and jealous father.  

Violence & Scariness

A ray gun is fired at a pouncing tiger, which immediately disintegrates. Astronauts fire ray guns at a giant invisible monster. 

Sexy Stuff

A male astronaut offers to teach a pretty girl who has only lived with her father on an isolated planet how to hug and kiss. Some '50s-style insinuations are made about "the view from where I'm standing" as an astronaut looks over at the pretty girl in a short skirt. The commander of the ship lectures her about not wearing skimpy clothes to avoid "exciting" his fellow astronauts, who have been on a lonely spaceship for the past year. 

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The spaceship's cook discovers that a robot living on the "forbidden planet" can create anything he wants, so he shows the robot a bottle of bourbon, takes a large sip, then passes it to the robot, who also takes a giant sip to determine its chemical composition. Then the robot makes 50 gallons of it. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Forbidden Planet is a classic B-movie sci-fi film originally released in 1956. For all its "futuristic" speculation on mankind's adventures in outer space in the early 24th century, the attitudes and gender roles are rooted in the Eisenhower era. There's some kissing and a few sexual innuendos as the all-male crew of astronauts encounters the first woman they've seen in a year, but it's all pretty tame, especially by today's standards. There are brief moments of violence -- ray guns shooting at invisible aliens and such -- but they're also tame relative to the level found in current movies. The spaceship's cook has a robot make him 50 gallons of bourbon, some of which he drinks. Overall, this film is a slice of quaint kitsch from the onset of the Space Age. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byvexel January 24, 2012

A science fiction classic that may scare the youngest ones

This science fiction classic movie is a must-see. However, at 40, I still remember it as one of the movies that scared me the most as a young kid. Of course, it... Continue reading
Parent of a 10 year old Written bySANJO September 15, 2013

Not just a harmless cult movie for us...

This may be a famous cult movie but its not appropriate for young kids as it has some pretty awful messages about women deserving whatever they get if they look... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 23, 2012

The most influential film of the 50s'

nothing in this film is innapropriate. But some of the scenes near the end might scare kids under 5. No one in the film gets killed but the film has good specia... Continue reading

What's the story?

It's the year 2381, and Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen) directs his spaceship to an Earth-like planet called Altair-4 in search of a former Earth colony that's been out of contact for many years. The ship receives a transmission from Dr. Morbius, telling the crew to go away, but they insist on landing. A huge robot named Robby brings Adams and two crew members to the home of Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon). Morbius tells them that, with the exception of Morbius and his wife, everyone else in the colony was violently killed by an unseen force, which then disappeared. Now widowed, he lives with his daughter, Alta (Anne Francis), and Robby. Alta has never seen any human other than her father. Morbius explains that a great race once lived on the planet, and he has studied their artifacts. In an attempt to use their minds and spirits to create something, he inadvertently created a creature made up of their fears and anger. It is called the Id. It reappeared when the colonists arrived, out of their subconscious urges. And, with the arrival of the crew from Earth, it has come back again. The invisible being damages the spacecraft and kills three of the crewmen before Morbius, realizing that the Id came from within him, renounces that part of himself, destroying both of them. Adams and Alta escape with the crew before the planet explodes.

Is it any good?

The gadgets and special effects seem quaint to us now, but the movie is still fun to watch for younger children, and it still raises some important questions for older ones. FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) was the first science-fiction movie set entirely on another planet. It's loosely based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, the story of Prospero the Sorcerer and his daughter Miranda, who are alone on an island until a storm brings their former countrymen to them. Robby the Robot is the obedient Ariel. And the Id is the powerful and angry Caliban.

The Id, of course, is named for Freud's famous concept of the id, the instincts and impulses of the unconscious mind. Morbius says that he and his wife survived because they were the only ones who loved the planet and wanted to stay, that the monster was created from the fears and jealousies of the other colonists. The implication is that Morbius' jealousy when Alta falls in love with Adams brings the Id's destructiveness out again. In a way, this movie is more a way of exploring unconscious feelings we all harbor than it is speculation about life in the future or on other planets.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how science-fiction films about spaceships and aliens have changed since Forbidden Planet. How are contemporary sci-fi movies different? 

  • Do you think we'll ever have robots like Robby? What would be the best thing about having one? Would there be any disadvantages? 

  • Is the rule making it impossible for Robby to harm any rational beings a good one, even though it makes it impossible for him to protect the crew from the Id? Can you think of a better rule?

Movie details

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