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"Forbidden Planet" Movie Comparison To Shakespeare's The Tempest

1470 words - 6 pages

On first glance, Forbidden Planet can easily be seen to parallel many other works relating to technology, nature, or both. One of the most obvious parallels is, of course, to Shakespeare's The Tempest, the story of a man stranded on an island which he has single-handedly brought under his control through the use of magic. Indeed, the characters, plot, and lesson of Forbidden Planet mirror almost exactly those of The Tempest, with the exception that where The Tempest employs magic, Forbidden Planet utilizes technology. At this point, it is useful to recall one of Arthur C. Clarke's more famous ideas, which is that any technology, when sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic. ...view middle of the document...

Eventually, Caliban and other servants plot to overthrow Prospero, but are thwarted and taken back into servitude, thankful to get off that easily.Having summarized The Tempest, it is easy to summarize Forbidden Planet. A man named Dr. Morbius and his daughter Altaira are stranded on a distant planet when a government ship lands there, whose commander falls in love with the beautiful Altaira. The only significant difference in the two works, other then setting, is the conclusion of each. Before we look at the differences there, however, it is necessary to look more closely at the symbolism behind each. In The Tempest, Prospero's magic is a symbol of technology. It lets him tame the island, is completely at his command, and even is understandable by those who take the time to study it. Caliban represents the forces of nature, which Prospero has enslaved using magic, a.k.a. technology. It is worth noting here that Shakespeare perceives "nature" in the form of a wild, hostile environment, not as a "garden of eden" form, a concept he pokes fun at in one of the opening scenes. Eventually, nature rises up and lashes out at Prospero, but (from what one can gather from Marx), his magic saves him. He then accepts Caliban back into servitude. The perfect harmony is thus achieved--man using technology to tame nature, and doing it so well that he achieves the best of both worlds.Forbidden Planet teaches a different lesson, and teaches it in two separate stories. The first is the story of the Krell, a superintelligent race that rose to its peak and then fell 2000 centuries before Dr. Morbius and his daughter set foot on the planet. The Krell had achieved what they considered to be the pinnacle of technology--they had left behind their physical bodies in exchange for computers. Their consciousness resided in computers, which "projected" bodies for them, so to speak. The perfect blending of man (or creature, anyway) and technology. They were, in fact, a version of Hardison's "silicon creature"--they had no physical bodies, save for a series of ones and zeros stored somewhere in the memory of a supercomputer 40 miles long. What the Krell had forgotten to explore, however, was their own psyche. Confronted with the virtually limitless power they had due to the nature of what they had become, all they did was loot, riot, and otherwise engage in self-destructive activity, so that in one day the entire race was destroyed. In this case, technology in the form of the Krell's supercomputer became a slave to the most basic form of nature--the subconscious, where primal emotions rage with all the fury of a physical tempest. As we see, the results when nature controls technology are disastrous.The second story is the story of Dr. Morbius. At the outset, Altaira IV could easily be mistaken for paradise, albeit an arid and lonely one. While the area that the ship is in is a desert like climate, the dwelling place of Morbius and Alta...

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