Is it possible to completely put aside preconceived notions held by an entire generation? Regardless of whether you’re a science fiction fan, as a 20-something watching Forbidden Planet from 1956 is sure to remind you of forthcoming popular science fiction films. The plot is just like that of Event Horizon, with a crew searching for a group of vanished humans (minus the torture and Sam Neill’s nasty head).
My skin’s a bit dry.
The ability to beam is one of the most iconic elements of Star Trek. The ability to manifest terrors into reality is used in Sphere. Robby the robot is clearly like R2-D2 from Star Wars, complete with human spunk, as he expresses his displeasure with Alta’s need for new clothes. Even the Barron’s soundtrack, with its squelching, screaming, and decaying electronics, became a heavily recycled style (often by the Barron’s themselves, as Brend writes in The Sound of Tomorrow).
But what would it have been like to see the movie in 1956, without the clichés that would later follow? Would the electronic soundtrack be completely novel, or would it still sound somewhat like the Theremin at times (given that it makes heavy use of vibrato) or other earlier electronic scores? Consider the music from The Thing From Another World.
Of course, the music in The Thing From Another World has more melody than Forbidden Planet as well as a backing orchestra, so this comparison has its limitations. Watching the film nearly 60 years later, it’s hard to overlook extensive sound art that follows, even with the Barron’s one-time friend John Cage. In what ways would the tone of the film have been different? Clearly, there is still intended to be some humor in the film (such as when the cook arrives to find the overflowing pile of full bourbon bottles), but would the tone have been substantially more serious?