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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Forbidden Planet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2183  Wednesday, 29 November 2000

[1]     From:   Lisa Hopkins <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 14:13:04 +0000
        Subj:   Forbidden Planet

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 15:12:21 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2171 Re: Forbidden Planet

[3]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 08:42:06 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 11.2171 Re: Forbidden Planet

[4]     From:   John Ramsay <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 18:17:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2154 Forbidden Planet/Forbidden Attribution


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lisa Hopkins <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 14:13:04 +0000
Subject:        Forbidden Planet

At the ESSE conference in Helsinki this summer Judith Buchanan of the
University of York gave a very interesting paper on The Forbidden Planet
in which she argued that the parallel with The Tempest was not
'discovered' until some time after the film was made.  It certainly
wasn't mentioned in the early posters for the film.  I will forward the
discussion so far to her and see if she would like to comment further.

Lisa Hopkins
Sheffield Hallam University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 15:12:21 -0000
Subject: 11.2171 Re: Forbidden Planet
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2171 Re: Forbidden Planet

The film Forbidden Planet improves on Shakespeare's play in at least one
respect. The arrivals at the outpost of Morbius and his daughter are
sent there by their superiors, not made abandon ship by the likeness of
a storm.  One would think, then, that there's no tempest and the main
link with Shakespeare's play lost. But the tempest is retained in an
oddly attenuated form: an awkward moment of muted collective panic when
the navigator mismanages the deceleration from lightspeed. Intellectual
hubris forms the major theme of the film and, in an allusion to the
mythical Greek Icarus, the navigator's error brings the spaceship too
close to the sun.

In Forbidden Planet, as in Derek Jarman's film (in which the storm is
dreamt of by Prospero) the arch-creator is subject to forces of which he
is unaware. The 'monster' in Forbidden Planet is a manifestation of
Morbius/Prospero's id and, artificially enhanced, it threatens to
destroy all. The arrivals on the island discover this and leave smugly
edified about their own human limitations. But they don't connect this
lesson to the brush with disaster they'd experienced upon arrival and
are therefore likely to repeat the error. They understand being told not
to (forbidden) but do not appreciate being proleptically warned
(fore-bidden).

Gabriel Egan

PS Like a woodcut in the early modern printshop, stock storm footage
circulates freely. Jarman's storm images appeared 20 years earlier to
accompany Tony Hancock's voyage to Baffin Land (BBC TV Hancock's Half
Hour "The Emigrant").

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 08:42:06 -0800
Subject: Re: Forbidden Planet
Comment:        SHK 11.2171 Re: Forbidden Planet

Carol Morley,

You wrote that you

> don't see how you can miss the deliberate use of a scenario with B-movie
> parallels to Prospero, Miranda, Ferdinand, Ariel and Caliban for
> starters.

I grant you Prospero, Miranda, and Ariel up to a point, but not the
others.  I'll explain.

Mobius, his daughter, and Robbie the Robot do roughly correspond to
Prospero/Miranda/Ariel.  I can see that.  But I don't see how the id
monster resembles Caliban except as a placeholder.  Its function in the
story is entirely different.  In fact, the relationship between Mobius
and child is entirely different than the relationship between Prospero
and Miranda, as are the plots.  Prospero wants to wed Miranda to
Ferdinand to bring stability when he returns as Duke of Milan after he
leaves the island.  Mobius would prefer the space cowboys didn't know
his daughter is on the planet, though they find out because, as Raymond
Chandler wrote, Hollywood only knows how to tell love stories.  Mobius
does not want to leave the planet, as Prospero does the island, and he
somehow creates the id monster so no one can.  There is a very light
parallel in that both have a love of learning and both renounce their
power in the end.

There is a kind of correspondence between the two clowns in The Tempest
and the FP cook's addiction to bourbon.  Kiss the book.  Of course the
Ariel character becomes his supplier.  There is also something near the
end about forgiveness, very vague.  That covers all the correspondences
I noticed, so the connection seems dubious to me.  By extracting those
relatively few similarities, I have made the two seem much closer than
they play.  Let's add that most of the plot points from The Tempest are
missing from FP, and most of the plot points in FP are not in The
Tempest.

Have you noticed how much FP resembles Star Trek?  That is actually a
much closer analog than The Tempest, especially to the first Star Trek
pilot which is very much about a keeper (or keepers) preventing others
from leaving the planet.  You even have the captain, the doctor, the
prominence of the second in command.  It is easier for me to imagine
Roddenberry swiping from FP, then FP swiping from The Tempest.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 18:17:54 -0500
Subject: 11.2154 Forbidden Planet/Forbidden Attribution
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2154 Forbidden Planet/Forbidden Attribution

Try using the Internet Movie Database. The entry for Forbidden Planet
lists the authors, including Shakespeare.

John Ramsay
Welland Ontario
 

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