"Forbidden Planet" movie Comparison to Shakespeare's The Tempest

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA-, January 1996

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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. Indeed, the technology presented in Forbidden Planet is not meant to be understood by the audience, but rather is, for all intents and purposes, magic. This is undoubtedly in part because the technology doesn't exist and therefore cannot be explained to us.

What is more important, however, is that how the technology works is irrelevant for the purpose of the movie, which is to entertain and to teach us a lesson about man's control over the elements and over his own technological creations.

At this point a brief synopsis of the movie would seem to be in order, with special attention as to how it relates to The Tempest.

In The Tempest, a man named Prospero and his daughter Miranda have been exiled to a remote island which is completely uninhabited, save for an evil monster and her son Caliban, and which is in a state of primal chaos. Using the magical powers he has cultivated all his life, Prospero gradually brings the forces of nature on the island under his control, and manages to somehow enslave Caliban, whose mother has died in the...