Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I wanted to believe...

Following up on my last posting about my science fiction double feature weekend:

In the mid-1950s the world envisioned by futurists was a technological promise on the verge of happening. In our future there were cars that would drive themselves or transform into helicopters, taking us above the traffic. In time there would be video telephones, robots to do our work, rocket ships with atomic motors that would take us to the moon for a vacation. As a young boy my head was full of these marvels. I was very anxious for all of it to finally happen, even asking my mother at one point, "So when is the future going to be here?" as if there was an actual date we'd all be transformed into a brand-new space age world.*

So when I saw Forbidden Planet, with its (then) futuristic sets, the flying saucer-style spaceship and especially Robby the Robot, I was very taken. I knew the rest of the high tech-looking sets were fake, but I believed that Robby was a real, functioning robot. Dad had a good laugh when I told him that. A year later we saw Robby in The Invisible Boy, but by then I wasn't so easily duped by the need of my imagination to make my fantasies reality.

This 1979 issue of Cinefantastique, with its special coverage of the making of Forbidden Planet, is fun to read, to see how they did behind the camera what later turned up on the movie screen.

The centerfold is the artwork for the Forbidden Planet movie poster. I don't know what advertising would have done if they didn't show such a cliché, a monster, a robot, an alien, etc., carrying a limp girl. Just once they couldn't carry a guy...?

The behind-the-scenes photo is of special effects technicians with the robot, and the tech who operated it. The inset is of actress Gale "My Little Margie" Storm with tech Eddie Fisher, who was Robby the Robot.

*In all of those predictions the futurists missed predicting cellular phones and the Internet.

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