All right class, please come to attention. I want to thank you for your patience in allowing me to grade your exams. As you know, “Forbidden Planet” (1956) was the central topic of discussion in this class last semester. We devoted a lot of time to studying the themes in this magnum opus and for very good reason. It influenced generations of film makers and fans alike and continues to do so almost 60 years later.
So as I hand your papers back to you, please refer to the answer key that I am also handing out, so you can see where you made your mistakes. And to those of you who have “See Me” written on your tests, rest assured that we will rectify your lack of knowledge about this sci-fi classic!
Professor Smolen’s Sci-Fi Cinema 101 Mid-Term Examination Answer Key
Part 1: Fill in the Blank (Complete the sentences) (25 points)
1. In the film “Forbidden Planet” (1956) men and women of Earth landed on the moon at the end of the 21ST CENTURY.
2. Space Commander JJ Adams (Leslie Nielson) and his crew are on a deep space rescue mission. Their objective is to reach the planet ALTAIR 4 which is part of the main sequence star ALTAIR.
3. Once in orbit around the forbidden planet, Commander Adams speaks with MORBIUS who was once part of the BELLEROPHON expedition.
4. Once the crew of the C57-D has landed on the planet, they are met by a strange creature that is monitored to respond to the name ROBBY.
5. During their first night on the new planet, the Earth ship is visited by an invisible being that destroys the ship’s KLYSTRON RELAY MODULATOR.
Part 2: Matching (Place the letter of the answer next to the clue) (10 points)
A. Altaira E – Device used by Altair 4 technicians
B. Krell C – Ship’s doctor
C. Ostrow G – Wife
D. Plastic Educator H – Area for transitioning from Light Speed
E. Shuttle Car A – Only female on Forbidden Planet
F. Id I – Bourbon
G. Julia Marsden B – Native Race
H. DC Stations D – Brain Boost
I. 60 Gallons F – Subconscious
J. Hyperdrive J – Allows attainment of the Speed of Light
Part 3: Multiple Choice (Circle the best answer) (25 points)
1. Commander Adams is usually joined on his jaunts around the new planet by two other officers. They are Ostrow (Warren Stevens) and (A) Chief Quinn, (B) the Ship’s Bosun, (C) Lt. Farman, or (D) Crewman Dix.
2. “Another one of those new worlds. No beer, no women, no pool parlors, nothing. Nothing to do but throw rocks at tin cans and we have to bring our own tin cans” were the words spoken by what crewman? (A) Lt Farman, (B) The Cook, (C) Crewman Strong, (D) the Ship’s Bosun
3. The opening narration in “Forbidden Planet” is by a very famous radio voice over artist who also appeared in many other sci-fi movies including “War of the Worlds” (1953). He is: (A) Les Tremayne, (B) Paul Frees, (C) Marvin Miller, (D) Paul Reubens
4. What is Dr. Morbius’s specialty? (A) Astrophysics, (B) Philologist, (C) Microbiology, (D) Alien Civilizations.
5. What was the title of the original script treatment for “Forbidden Planet”? (A) Demon Planet, (B) Horror Planet, (C) Eyes to the Stars, (D) Fatal Planet.
Part 4: True/False (Place a T [for True] or an F [for False] next to the statement) (10 points)
1. Electronic music composers Louis and Bebe Barron never wrote music for another major film. TRUE
2. Actor Walter Pidgeon preferred his role as Admiral Nelson in “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” (1961) more than his role in “Forbidden Planet”. TRUE
3. Robby the Robot is unable to destroy the invisible Id monster because it is really Dr. Morbius. TRUE
4. Actor Marvin Miller was the voice for Robby the Robot. TRUE
5. The Id monster is defeated by the astronaut’s ray guns. FALSE
6. The costumes and props for “Forbidden Planet” were frequently reused on “The Twilight Zone” (1959-1964) TV show. REGRETABLY, ALL TOO TRUE
7. MGM used its own special effects technicians on “Forbidden Planet”. TRUE and FALSE. (MGM technicians included A. Arnold Gillespie and Warren Newcombe, but Joshua Meador (an animator) was on loan from Walt Disney studios).
8. The ultimate goal of the Krell race was to totally free themselves from physical instrumentalities. TRUE
9. Doctor Ostrow gives Commander Adams the key information to put together the cause for all of the mysterious deaths. TRUE
10. Dr. Morbius’s daughter has no idea what a bathing suit is. TRUE
Part 5: Essay (Choose one of the two essay questions and be sure to use examples.) (30 points)
1. Compare and contrast the movie “Forbidden Planet” with William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”. Be sure to cite similarities and differences.
Character in “The Tempest” Equivalent Character in “Forbidden Planet”
A – Prospero A – Dr. Morbius
B – Altaira B – Miranda
C – Ariel C – Robby the Robot
D – Ferdinand D – Commander Adams
E – Stephano E – The Cook
F – Caliban F – The Id Creature
Additional similarities between “Forbidden Planet” and “The Tempest” (must cite at least 3 for full credit)
A. Dr. Morbius’s control of the Krell technology is essentially the same as Prospero’s control of his magic.
B. Dr. Ostrow’s brain boost attempt is the same as Caliban and Stephano’s attempt to steal Prospero’s books of magic.
C. Caliban possess the same primitive, basic urges as the Id creature.
D. The attack by the Id creature mirrors the fierce destructive storm that begins “The Tempest.”
E. The importance of Altaira’s virginity in the film is the same as the importance of Miranda’s virginity in “The Tempest.”
F. The island that Prospero has been exiled to mirrors the planet Altair 4 where Dr. Morbius and Altaira have been marooned.
Differences between “Forbidden Planet” and “The Tempest” (must cite at least 3 for full credit)
A. In “The Tempest”, Caliban is bought under control by Prospero, while the Id Creature in “Forbidden Planet” must be destroyed along with Dr. Morbius.
B. Caliban exhibits helpful behavior before turning to destruction, while the Id Creature is destructive from the onset.
C. Prospero is exiled to the island by his brother Antonio, while Dr. Morbius goes to Altair 4 of his own free will.
D. There is no character equivalent of Gonzalo in “Forbidden Planet.”
E. While Prospero purposefully uses his magic to create chaos, the destruction caused by Dr. Morbius’s ID creature is unintentional (at least by Dr. Morbius’s conscious mind).
F. In the play “The Tempest”, Miranda is only fifteen years old, while Altaira is a few years older.
2. Explain Dr. Morbius’s feelings and motivations towards his daughter, Altaira. What has the Krell machine done to alter his feelings toward her?
Dr. Morbius’s feelings for Altaira are altered by the great Krell machine. While no description of their early life together is mentioned in the film, the philologist is clearly initially portrayed as a kind, loving father. But deep in his sub-conscious mind, his enlarged and altered id seeks to control and dominate all aspects of Altaira’s life. And it is the love that Altaira feels for Commander Adams that sets Morbius’s monstrous id into a rage, since it cannot control the emotions of another human being. His id cannot strike out against her, because of his need to control (and his conscious fatherly love), so the creature begins to destroy those who are trespassing on Morbius’s kingdom.
There are no overt themes of incest in “Forbidden Planet”, however it can be deduced that Morbius’s subconscious need to control all aspects of Altaira life could possibly extend to her sexuality as well. While Morbius the father would be horrified at the idea of an incestuous relationship, his altered subconscious is capable of the most heinous crimes, including tearing a human being “limb from limb”. Therefore, it is in the realm of possibility that Morbius’s subconscious mind would be capable of such an unholy act through the actions of his Id monster.
Bonus Question (5 points): How many Oscars was “Forbidden Planet” nominated for? – ONLY ONE – FOR SPECIAL EFFECTS.
Scorecard – (which character does your score fall under?)
0-60 points – The Cook
Well cookie, what now? I told you time and time again that you needed to pay attention and learn the lessons from this amazing sci-fi classic. While it’s true that you take a lot of pride in your duties, you haven’t shown any pride in yourself and watched this incredible movie over and over again (like me!). I’m afraid I’m going to have to dock your space pay other privileges for the next six months. Oh and by the way, you’d better stay away from that Robert fella. He’s a bad influence on you.
61-70 points – Doc Ostrow
Are you sure you passed your medical boards, Doc? I mean I know you’ve been locked up in hyperspace for 378 days, but that still doesn’t explain your poor showing. I know you’re fascinated with alien worlds, but why haven’t you paid more attention to the fascinating world on display here? I can only assume that your brains got a little scrambled the last time we used the DC station. So maybe you need a little rest and relaxation. Please just promise me one thing – don’t go near the Krell plastic educator, ever. Who knows what could happen?
71-80 points – Robby the Robot
In the words of Connie Francis who’s crying now Robby? While it’s clear that you’ve mastered a fair amount of this classic film, there’s always room for improvement. Maybe you should stop making dresses and genuine Kentucky rocket bourbon and insert the Blu-Ray of this flick in that weird front aperture of yours. After a few more viewings, I’m sure that you would pass the re-test with flying colors. What’s that, you say? Something’s quickly approaching from the West and is now quite close? Quick! Close the metal shutters. Robby? Robby?
81-90 points – Dr. Morbius
Congratulations, professor! Well done. You have been paying attention and you understand the themes and events of this timeless sci-fi masterpiece. I know find it ironic that a simple scholar like yourself with no ambition besides a modest measure of seclusion was obliged to take this exam. I hope you’re not angry with me, Dr. Morbius. Something tells me that even while you’re asleep, you’re someone who shouldn’t be trifled with.
91 – 105 points – Krell
Wow! Your results are simply astonishing! Clearly you belong to a mighty and noble race of beings of amazing intelligence. Ethically and well as technologically, you are a million years ahead of humankind. You and your kind have abolished sickness, insanity and crime. You have visited countless backward planets and bought back many biological specimens. Remarkable! However, you should know that deep down inside your mind, you really, really want to wipe out your entire species in one night.
Gonzalez Campos, MA. Shakespeare in Outer Space: Forbidden Planet as Adaptation of The Tempest. Available at: http://sederi.org/docs/yearbooks/09/09%2025.pdf. Accessed February 27, 2015.
Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties (The 21st Century Edition). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc. 2010.