Mysteries of the Krell:

Making the Sci-Fi Epic "Forbidden Planet" (1956)

Presented by the Academy's Science and Technology Council


Forbidden Planet

Hosted by Craig Barron and Ben Burtt

A celebration of the technology behind "Forbidden Planet" which featured a screening and a three-week display highlighting the production methods used to create the sci-fi classic.

In the 1950s, when science fiction films were usually cheaply produced B-movies, one production was light-years ahead: "Forbidden Planet." The 1956 release, MGM’s first major venture into science fiction, was a big-budget production directed by Fred M. Wilcox that conjured another world, with crowd-pleasing flourishes that included the now-iconic Robby the Robot.

Set in the 23rd century, "Forbidden Planet" tells the story of a United Planets mission to the mysterious planet Altair-4. The crew soon discovers that the planet’s only inhabitants, Dr. Morbius and his daughter Altaira, are the lone survivors of an earlier expedition, and they have uncovered the secrets of the planet’s vanished race, the godlike Krells.

Prior to the screening, Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Craig Barron and Oscar-winning sound designer Ben Burtt investigated some of the secrets behind the making of the film. Barron examined the film’s breakthrough effects sequences that used miniatures and matte paintings, as well as explored how Joshua Meador created his animated "id monster" effect and combined it with live-action photography. Burtt explained how the electronic score was created, using newly discovered source tapes from the film’s composers, Louis and Bebe Barron (no relation to Craig). Special guest Robby the Robot also made an appearance.

Forbidden Planet
Starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Richard Anderson, Earl Holliman. Directed by Fred McLeod Wilcox. Produced by Nicholas Nayfack. Screenplay Cyril Hume. Story Irving Block, Allen Adler. Cinematography George J. Folsey. Film Editing Ferris Webster. Art Direction Cedric Gibbons, Arthur Lonergan. Set Decoration Edwin B. Willis, Hugh Hunt. Electronic Tonalities Louis Barron, Bebe Barron. Recording Supervisor Wesley C. Miller (Supervising). Sound James Brock. Sound Editors John Lipow, Kurt Hernfeld, Kendrick Kinney. Special Effects A. Arnold Gillespie, Warren Newcombe, Irving G. Ries, Joshua Meador. Costumes Helen Rose, Walter Plunkett. Makeup William Tuttle. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 1956. 98 minutes.

Digital version courtesy of Warner Bros. 98 minutes.

Academy Award nominee: Special Effects (Gillespie, Ries, Miller)

 

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Videos

Ben Burtts's Sound lab for 'Forbidden Planet': Artifacts from the Krell
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Ben Burtt's Sound Lab for "Forbidden Planet": Artifacts from the Krell

 

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Craig Barron on 'Forbidden Planet': Artifacts from the Krell
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Craig Barron on "Forbidden Planet": Artifacts from the Krell

 

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Event Information

When
Saturday, July 16, 7 p.m.
Where
Linwood Dunn Theater
Don't Show Again