OK, Robbie. Just point the camera and hit the record button… It’s easy…
FORBIDDEN PLANET is probably my favorite movie. (Dr. Strangelove is a close second).
But you can’t beat Forbidden Planet for plot. Made in 1956 in an era of cheese Sci Fi, the movie stands out not just for major production values (for its time) but also for a great story line. Starring Walter Pigeon as Dr. Morbius and Leslie Nielsen (surprisingly) as Commander John Adams (before his Airplane days, when he was still playing it straight), its actually a take-off on The Tempest, by Shakespeare.
In short, Nielsen and his crew travel 100 million light years or so to the planet Altair IV, where the only survivors of an earlier expedition are an archaeologist, Dr. Morbius (Pigeon) and his 21 year old daughter Altaira,
The incredibly advanced and sophisticated Krell Civilization, which inhabited the planet, were apparently wiped out overnight in one catastrophic evening. It takes a while to figure out what happened, but the Krell were working on a massive ‘final project’ when they vanished. The final project, it turns out, was a gigantic machine buried in the planet that had the power to turn any thought, any wish, into physical reality instantly.
And, at no cost, apparently.
What the Krell forgot to factor in was their own deep dark primitive drives. Once the machine was turned on, every hatred, jealously, anger was immediately translated into a living, breathing real killing machine that wiped out the whole lot of them overnight. (Someone, one would think, should have turned off the machine perhaps!)
In any event, it was ‘monsters from the id that killed the Krell’ and soon will wipe out Leslie Neilsen’s crew as well if they don’t get the heck out of there.
The amazing yet deadly machine that the Krell built, it seems to me, is not so different from the amazing yet potentially deadly machine we have built with the Internet.
Like the Krell Reactors, it too has the power to deliver, on demand, just about anything we want, any time, and for no cost (apparently). OK. it can only deliver intellectual content at the moment, but still, that’s a pretty fair chunk of our own culture. Movies. TV Shows. News. Videos. Music. Books. Arcane legal tracts. Blueprints for nuclear weapons. On demand. All the time. Any Time. To anyone. No cost. No delay. No trips to the library.
Pretty good huh?
The Krell probably though the same thing.
What will the impact be of a culture in which you can get pretty much anything (anything that is digitalizable – if that is word), on demand, in an instant, and for free.
It’s gotta have a very disruptive influence.
Something we probably are as ill prepared for as were the Krell for the consequences of their own machine.
The new machine will wipe out whole swaths of industry, whole swaths of business. It will change not only distribution but also valuations. In short, like the Krell, it runs the very real risk of destroying our society – at least the one we have known up till now.
What will replace it?
Ah… figure that one out, and you too can own your own Youtube, or at least the next iteration.
In Forbidden Planet, Nielsen and the crew are able to pack up the ship and fly away from the Krell Machine before (just incidentally) blowing up the planet. Back here on earth, we don’t have anywhere else to go.
Here are some outtakes: