Monster Marketing, 65 Million Dollars in the Making

Before its release, nothing had roared quite as loudly as Jurassic Park (Spielberg, 1993). The film broke incredible boundaries and delivered something an audience were yet to see so convincingly on-screen, with impressive spectacle that even holds up to modern standards. Perhaps just as impressive as the film was the enormous sum of money it made in the box office – over one billion dollars all-time gross worldwide. While significant money and thought went into the production of the film, significant money and thought also went into the marketing of the film. Peeling away the dinosaurs and the spectacle that emerges from them reveals a Hollywood blockbuster machine chugging away, conjuring up money and fuelling the industrialisation of film. This essay will explore the argument that Jurassic Park is but a feature-length advertisement for branded merchandise and analyse the extraordinary methods within the film’s marketing process; expanding upon this, it will explore the idea that Jurassic Park and other such blockbusters are purely acquisitive and whether any art shines through in the finished product

From the early 1960s, newcomer filmmakers and seasoned European veterans burst the seams of conventional Hollywood creating fresh and incredible pieces of art for film lovers to enjoy, becoming Hollywood’s own ‘auteurs’. Dubbed the Hollywood Renaissance or the ‘American New Wave’, film, at least in Hollywood, had taken a turn for the better. 1975, however, to some marks the unfortunate decline of the Renaissance. This specific year holds significance due to the release of a pair of directly comparable films; November marks the release of Miloš Forman’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, regarded as one of the greatest films of all time according to the AFI (Afi.com). The film follows an in-depth narrative circling an interesting new character that Hollywood had rarely explored before and was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” as it was archived in 1993 in the U.S. National Film Registry for preservation (Cs.cmu.edu). Despite being so highly acclaimed, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’s one-hundred and eight million total domestic gross was trumped by the earlier Spielberg’s Jaws’ two-hundred and sixty million dollars – which also essentially doubled this number thanks to foreign markets (Boxofficemojo.com). This direct comparable is important to consider, due to it perfectly conveying the discrepancy between ‘quality’ and profit in the movie industry, highlighting the importance of spectacle and marketing, and highlighting the power of the release date. From Jaws, Hollywood learned a new way to make films and money and the importance of the spectacle re-emerged from its grave in film history. On top of this, Hollywood had now learned a new time to release films; executives were worried that due to nice weather, no-one would want to visit the cinema during the summer. It wasn’t until the June 20th release of Jaws that Hollywood grasped the potential of summer releases, where children and adults alike had free time to spend at the cinema. In his book Blockbuster (2004), Shone demonstrates this point eloquently by compiling quotes from Jaws itself:

If you want a trenchant analysis of Jawsmania… our best bet has always been to check out Jaws itself. It’s all there, up on the screen – the hysteria bleeding into the hoopla, the hoopla into hype…“We need summer dollars,” pleads the mayor… “We depend on the summer crowds for our very lives. You yell ‘shark’ and we got a panic on our hands on the 4th of July.” Which is when Dreyfuss delivers his great speech. “What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim, eat and make little sharks.” For those who care to see it, there was an allegory there for what was about to happen in Hollywood…

At this point in Hollywood, things began to teeter as the industry was slapped with realisation about the money making opportunities of more Jawses. Spielberg bolstered this notion with Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), proving once again that the scale of the film, the spectacle, makes the money. It goes without saying the phenomenal impact of Star Wars (Lucas, 1977) on this opinion. Flipping back to the side of New Hollywood ‘auteurs’, came the release of Heaven’s Gate (1980). Heaven’s Gate, while still widely considered an impressive film by Michael Cimino, it is infamous for being an unfortunate flop – wasting over forty million dollars of its forty-four million dollar budget in such a prosperous time for the industry, with blockbusters tearing down box office records with their spectacle. This box office tragedy, many argue heralded the end of Hollywood Auteurism – truly beginning the age of the summer blockbuster. Then came one of the biggest summer blockbusters ever created, Jurassic Park

Advertising and the culture industry merge technically as well as economically. In both cases the same thing can be seen in innumerable places, and the mechanical repetition of the same culture product has come to be the same as that of the propaganda slogan. In both cases the insistent demand for effectiveness makes technology into psycho-technology, into a procedure for manipulating men. In both cases the standards are the striking yet familiar, the easy yet catchy, the skillful yet simple; the object is to overpower the customer, who is conceived as absent-minded or resistant. (Adorno and Horkheimer, 1944)

The words ‘Welcome to Jurassic Park’ accompanied by an overpowering ensemble of brass and strings mark one of the most spectacular scenes in the history of cinema. Never had an audience seen dinosaurs – or much other computer generated imagery – so vividly integrated into our world. It is undeniably phenomenal to see such a rich display of spectacle, but an underlying argument from many critics is that Jurassic Park holds little more than just that, spectacle. Under scrutiny, seams begin to burst and reveal something arguably just as spectacular in its own right at work: an unsinkable marketing machine – a maker of ‘little sharks’. Jurassic Park from the outset was conceived to be a shared international event – a summer blockbuster phenomenon, to make as big a mark as Star Wars. The over sixty million dollar production budget was not only matched, but exceeded by a sixty-five million dollar marketing campaign (Broeske, 1993). As rightly stated by Marcy Magiera, ‘That phenomenon is no accident. Rather, it’s the culmination of a carefully crafted marketing and merchandising plan set in motion in late 1991 for the movie based on Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel.’ (1994). It is evident even from the simplistic initial teaser trailer that the film relied on secrecy to form hype (Universal Studios, 1992, a). Not a single dinosaur appears in the teaser, and mere glimpses of the creatures appear in the trailers that followed (Universal Studios, 1992, b); this strategy is to reserve the big spectacle exclusively for within the movie theatre, thus inducing further hype. Additionally, Jurassic Park formed promotions with one hundred companies, generating one thousand different products of merchandise (Broeske, 1993). This is where, one could argue, the pinnacle of Jurassic Park’s marketing lies – the sense of identity; the film was more than just a film, it had become a brand.

It takes only three colours – red, yellow and white, one minimal drawing – of a fossil, and some blank space – fit for a title to be translated into tens of languages, to create arguably one of the most powerful and recognisable logos ever made. Chip Kidd’s original logo for the original novel of the same name (Crichton, 1991) was so effective in showing so much without showing anything at all (i.e conveying dinosaurs with nothing but the silhouette of a fossil of one), the marketing team for the film used this logo to equal effect. With such a simple image, the film promised so much to the audience. The workings of this logo provided a perfect basis for the workings of the film’s marketing scheme and is almost the quintessential example of the aforementioned ‘striking yet familiar, the easy yet catchy, the skillful yet simple’ Adorno and Horkheimer wrote about forty-seven years earlier. The film’s marketing didn’t stop there, however – it went even further by playing with diegesis. The filmmakers placed the logo diegetically within the world of the film – the park shares the film’s logo. While on the surface this is a mere gimmick, this choice was a monumental and integral part in the strength of the marketing of the film. To immerse the audience in the relatively realistic world of Jurassic Park, the park itself needed merchandise, which the filmmakers put on display within the film. This tactic also epitomises ‘skillful yet simple’, ducking under the thought of the audience, but standing glaringly in full view for every scene this merchandise appears in. Soon after leaving the cinema, viewers would learn the exciting merchandise of the film world was of course also available in the real world. This is arguably the true genius in the marketing of the film, whilst simultaneously being the reason the film itself is harshly criticised when put under scrutiny; with this much thought and care being put into the financial success and promotion of the film, some would argue the film itself is one spectacular feature-length advertisement for the real star of the show – the merchandise, which the film’s genre and appeal lends itself so well to, as Barry Langford explains:

The rise of SF and fantasy moreover offers an obvious showcase for spectacular state- of-the-art technologies of visual, sound and above all special-effects design, the key attractions that provide a summer release with crucial market leverage. The genre is well suited to the construction of simplified, action- oriented narratives with accordingly enhanced worldwide audience appeal, potential for the facile generation of profitable sequels (often, as with the two Jurassic Park sequels (U 1997, 1999), virtual reprises), and ready adaptability into profitable tributary media such as computer games and rides at studio-owned amusement parks. (Langford, 2010)

To say there was not a large-scale industrial capitalisation on this film would be a complete fabrication, as marketing was a huge focus from the get-go of the film’s pre-production. The real discussion comes down to the chicken and the egg of the film – whether the marketing was the primary focus of the film, or whether it came separate, as an additional thought to take advantage of the potential of the tale. Cynically taking all the aforementioned points as reasons for the film being nothing, or close to nothing, but an inventive money making technique puppet-mastered by greedy studios is a fair interpretation that is even further evidenced by the release of the critically acclaimed Schindler’s List (Spielberg, 1993). Releasing the same year, the deep and gritty film was on many occasions implied to be the project Spielberg was more involved in, with post production of Jurassic Park taking more of a back-burner role. Spielberg and George Lucas worked on the post production of the film together, with Spielberg working from Poland while shooting Schindler (Rothman, 1993). It could be argued that Spielberg himself knew of the financial value of the film and needed to release it, where his real passion lay in telling the story of Schindler’s List. Tom Shone agrees with this notion when criticising the film: ‘It doesn’t feel like it has all his enthusiasm, all his energies. As miraculous as some of it still is, it feels a tiny bit like he’s directing it with his left hand.’ (Shone, 2015).

In defence of Jurassic Park, then, it is important to realise the stunning work put into the film. The realism of the combined visual and practical effects contend with modern day effects due to some incredible innovations in filmmaking. While the plot of the film may fall short from the depth and impact of Schindler’s List or even One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, to compare the films is not a fair stance. It could be argued, then, that while being a summer blockbuster, relying on the spectacularity of the film’s visuals and fantastic tale, that the film is a piece of art in its own right; the spectacle of Jurassic Park goes further than ever before, with careful reforging of the source material to appeal to a much wider audience: Keeping the thrills of the novel, whilst dropping most of the violence; keeping the attention to scientific detail the novel holds, whilst simultaneously juggling the hard-to-hate, engaging plots and interesting themes in a comprehensible and easy-to-follow classic cinematic way. One could argue that Jurassic Park was never a fool-proof planned marketing success, as without the film being an engaging, fun and enjoyable one, it wouldn’t have sold to the extent that it did. Even if cinephiles and critics do not hold Jurassic Park as an art piece, the film still was a carefully orchestrated and choreographed piece of media – arguably an art in itself.

To argue that Jurassic Park could have been exclusively made by acquisitive executives who lack the basic knowledge of visual storytelling, that the film could have been made without the vision of Spielberg, the musical prowess of Williams, would simply be false. While Jurassic Park was a marketing goldmine and while the film’s success was down to careful planning, to say anyone could have expected the level of engagement the film captivated worldwide without the art of the film itself is also a complete falsity. And, even if the film was nothing more than a feature-length advertisement for branded merchandise, it should still be credited as a monumental shared international experience, which captivated the minds, hearts and souls of billions of people across the globe; even if it was nothing more than an advert, it was clearly at the very least an incredible one.

Bibliography

Afi.com. AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies. [online] Available at: http://www.afi.com/100Years/movies.aspx [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Boxofficemojo.com. Jaws (1975) – Box Office Mojo. [online] Available at: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=jaws.htm [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Boxofficemojo.com. Jurassic Park Movies at the Box Office – Box Office Mojo. [online] Available at: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?view=main&id=jurassicpark.htm&p=.htm [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Boxofficemojo.com. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – Box Office Mojo. [online] Available at: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=oneflewoverthecuckoosnest.htm [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Broeske, P. (1993). Promoting ‘Jurassic Park’. Entertainment Weekly. [online] Available at: http://ew.com/article/1993/03/12/promoting-jurassic-park/ [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Crichton, M. (1991). Jurassic Park. Orbit.

Cs.cmu.edu. U.S. National Film Registry — Titles. [online] Available at: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/Web/Unofficial/Movies/NFR-Titles.html [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Adorno, T. and Horkheimer, M. (1944). The Dialectic of Enlightenment. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Univ. Press.

Kidd, C. (2012). Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is.. [online] Ted.com. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/chip_kidd_designing_books_is_no_laughing_matter_ok_it_is [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Langford, B. (2010). Post-classical Hollywood. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp.191-218.

Magiera, M. (1994). The “Jurassic Park” logo is a proud centerpiece for Kellogg and Sega…. [online] Adage.com. Available at: http://adage.com/article/news/jurassic-park-logo-a-proud-centerpiece-kellogg-sega-kenner-learned-insatiable-craving-dino-jurassic-park-s-amazing-story-graphic-promotional-marketer-year-spielberg-mca-put-dream-team-herd-jurassic-licensees-happier/88013/ [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Rothman, M. (1993). ILM beams F/X to Spielberg in Poland. Variety. [online] Available at: http://variety.com/1993/film/news/ilm-beams-f-x-to-spielberg-in-poland-105405/ [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Shone, T. (2004). Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer. New York: Free Press.

Shone, T. (2015). Interviewed In How ‘Jurassic Park’ Changed the DNA of Blockbusters.Vice. [online] Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/exqxxp/how-jurassic-park-changed-the-dna-of-blockbusters-456 [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Thompson, K. and Bordwell, D. (2002). Film History. 3rd ed. New York (etc.): McGraw Hill, pp.487-488.

Universal Studios (1992):

  1. Jurassic Park (Initial Teaser).
    Available at: https://youtu.be/-QMue9j_RKg [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

    Available at: https://youtu.be/-QMue9j_RKg [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

  2. Jurassic Park (Trailer). [image] Available at: https://youtu.be/Bim7RtKXv90 [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Filmography

Heaven’s Gate. (1980). Directed by M. Cimino. Hollywood: United Artists.

Jaws. (1975). Directed by S. Spielberg. Hollywood: Universal Pictures.

Jurassic Park. (1993). Directed by S. Spielberg. Hollywood: Universal Pictures.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. (1975). Directed by M. Forman. Hollywood: United Artists.

Schindler’s List. (1993). Directed by S. Spielberg. Hollywood: Universal Pictures.

Star Wars. (1977). Directed by G. Lucas. Hollywood: 20th Century Fox.

America’s Own Id: Forbidden Planet, Communism and Nuclear War

In the 1950s, the United States of America were wading through the bowels of the Cold War, with the threat of nuclear apocalypse constantly dangling in the minds of the public. On top of this, ingrained in their minds: the image of Bibles burning and their country in flames and complete ruin due to the ‘menace of communism’ (Is This Tomorrow, 1947). For a contemporary member of the public, anxieties were high. It is no coincidence that in Hollywood, the Golden Age of science fiction dawned. Barry Langford (2009) states that ‘Fifties science fiction films… offered American cinema a means to explore, in particular, anxieties about the nuclear arms race that had been largely suppressed in official media.’ One could argue that the most quintessential example of this exploitation of the science fiction genre is Fred M. Wilcox’s Forbidden Planet (1956). This post will uncover Wilcox’s imprint on the film and the injection of these societal values and concerns of the Post-war era.
Forbidden Planet on surface level is an impressive science fiction which captivates the imagination, but the influence of societal issues is deeply buried within the countless metaphors the film conveys. The most vivid and apparent piece of imagery is used as the main antagonist of the film, the invisible monster. From the first communication with Altair IV and Morbius, in even the opening ten minutes of the film, the audience are informed of an unknown threat and a promise that no one is guaranteed to be safe. The monster, for the largest part of the movie is nothing more than a whisper in the winds – a rumour, but an everlasting presence which stands tall over the characters shrouded in mystery. It is without a doubt that the writers were affected by the ongoing fear of communism when forming ideas on this antagonist and how it should be represented in the film. The United States particularly, under the pressure of tension between Russia and themselves, were – by the time the film was written – deeply weaved into a tangle of anxiety (History.state.gov, n.d.). The government’s plot to contain the spread of communism rapidly grew into fear-mongering on a large scale. The production of Forbidden Planet fits nicely within the period of the Cold War referred to as the second Red Scare. During this time, Senator Joseph McCarthy began to make bold, yet baseless claims that communism was infiltrating the U.S. Department of State (Storrs, 2014). He picked people blindly, pinning them as communists and causing massive uproar (dubbed ‘McCarthyism’). This fear spread much wider than just McCarthy – suspicions that ‘the reds’ had injected themselves into most industries and sections of American culture ran rampant – even teachers were under scrutiny (American Legion, 1951). This evil wave of unseeable enemies, hidden in plain sight – an invisible force. One could argue that these themes link very tightly to the representation of the Id Monster in Forbidden Planet; to some extent the monster represents the American perspective of communism. Every time the monster is addressed in the film, it is presented as a serious threat – and yet is not only literally invisible, it is also only merely referenced throughout the whole film, which is very similar to the way communism must have been interpreted in America, due to government propaganda and McCarthyism. In the concluding portion of the film, there is only one instance of the invisible creature becoming visible – where the creature is caught in the force field device, which illuminates its features. Despite the force field interference lighting up blue – along with the ray gun rounds, turret shots, etc. – the creature is lit up red. Red is not only the primary colour of the communist party, it is also the nickname of followers (the ‘Reds’). This takes the inference about the monster representing – or at least resembling – the American perspective of communism a step further, as the choice of the colour red seems somewhat groundless otherwise.
McCarthyism also infiltrated the film world, causing the attack on the Hollywood Ten – ten major film industry members who were denounced by the House Un-American Activities Committee. A second interpretation is that the Id Monster is an impressively socially aware, metapolitical representation of the second Red Scare itself (i.e despite the filmmakers themselves being clouded by the Scare) and an antagonisation of McCarthyism. This is alluded to, when the ‘innocent’ men shooting at the monster are picked up by the Id (McCarthy) and are lit up red by its grasp. In this interpretation, the idea that people are picked and made red (communist) is a direct metaphor for McCarthyism. William Lorenzo agrees with this interpretation and infers that the monster is a direct criticism of Senator McCarthy:

This Id Monster is an image of McCarthy’s Red Scare, and it is only fitting that the monster itself is red. As this monster terrorizes Adams’ crew, it picks up and throws aside a few crew members. This moment in the film is crucial to the interpretation of Morbius and the Id Monster. When the Id Monster picks up the two crew members, these individuals actually turn red. They are both engulfed by the monster, which marks them as red and eventually destroys them. This is exactly what happened during the Red Scare. McCarthy’s own Id Monster marked certain Americans as communists and they were, in turn, blacklisted and “destroyed” (Lorenzo, 2016).

One may counter this argument with the statement that this choice was purely aesthetic, though the film is otherwise so thoroughly premeditated in terms of plot – for instance its orbit around Freudian psychology throughout – it is not unreasonable to interpret this trait in the aesthetics of the film also. It is, however, without a doubt that the second Red Scare and McCarthyism affected the movies of the time and Forbidden Planet is no exception to this.
In the 1950s, the threat of nuclear war was exponentially increasing due to the ongoing Korean War and anxieties were high. Even with the knowledge of possible mutually assured destruction, American Generals, including General Douglas MacArthur (who once requested 34 atomic bombs be dropped on North Korea) – and even President Truman himself – did not rule out the use of atomic bombs against China, Russia and North Korea (Nti.org, 2005).

[On the use of the atomic bomb] There has always been active consideration of its use. I don’t want to see it used. It is a terrible weapon, and it should not be used on innocent men, women, and children who have nothing whatever to do with this military aggression (Truman, 1950).

With the nuclear attack on Hiroshima happening a mere ten years previous to it and with all this tension between countries, it is without question that Forbidden Planet, like many fifties science fiction films, was influenced by this. One primary theme within the film is the idea that we are all our own enemies. This is presented very literally by the concluding act, where we learn that the Id monster is a formation of Morbius’ own subconscious – he is his own monster. This theme is one that links very closely to nuclear war, despite being obvious perhaps particularly in hindsight. The concept of Mutually Assured Destruction, while evolving mostly in the sixties, still held its principle during the fifties. The MAD doctrine insisted that if one power were to use nuclear warheads against another, it would amount to suicide, as Josh Clark so eloquently explains:
Because the U.S. and the USSR both had enough nuclear missiles to clear each other from the map, neither side could strike first. A first strike guaranteed a retaliatory counterstrike from the other side. So launching an attack would be tantamount to suicide — the first striking nation could be certain that its people would be annihilated, too (Clark, 2008).
So, while this concept wasn’t explicitly applicable to the early fifties, the time of Forbidden Planet’s production, the destructive power of nuclear weapons, thanks to the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima was undoubtedly frightening for the American public and the filmmakers – particularly with the knowledge that the Soviets had in fact created and detonated its first nuclear bomb (Atomicarchive.com, n.d.). One could argue that the Id monster and its story is an exploration of this theme, with the monster representing the weapons themselves and Morbius representing trigger-finger American powers, for example General Douglas MacArthur, who’s thoughtlessness could have cost vast amounts of innocent lives, not only in enemy territory, but also in home territory due to counter-strikes. The filmmakers play with not only Morbius’ lack of self awareness of the issue, but also his denial. Drawing a parallel between this and, for example once again, General Douglas MacArthur; MacArthur’s treacherous strategies appreciated no consequences and rejected the idea that they would do more damage than good – lack of self awareness and denial. Forbidden Planet’s play on the idea that a human can be their own undoing, one could argue, links very closely to this idea that a real person held a dangerous amount of control of this much power and could easily cause World War III – perhaps not particularly referencing anyone specific, but more the concept of this. A bolstering factor to this interpretation is the monster itself. The monster is very quick to endanger – and kill – ‘innocent’ people (the soldiers from the space-ship). When Morbius uses the Krell machine to unlock new knowledge, which seems to him a good idea, he also lets out the monster within his subconscious – he is the cause of the death of the soldiers directly due to the repercussions of using the machine. The idea that the filmmakers are reflecting the real state of the Korean and Cold War is highly probable.
Forbidden Planet reflects the threat of nuclear apocalypse that contemporary Americans anxiously anticipated much like many other science fiction films of the time, but in a much more subtle way. The Day The Earth Stood Still (Wise, 1951) is a prime, in-your-face example of a criticism of our own dystopia-esque world. The resonating, concluding message of the film, said by the character Klaatu, applies directly to Forbidden Planet also:

It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet. But if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: Join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer; the decision rests with you.

Forbidden Planet, one could argue, presents the same exact message, in a much more subtle and metaphorical way. Where The Day The Earth Stood Still’s plot revolves around this theme, Forbidden Planet buries this theme deep within its lore. The filmmakers present this threat of apocalypse as long forgotten and in the past to give the audience a more third-person perspective on the dangerous teetering society of the Atomic age. Continuing the aforementioned interpretation that the Id Monster represents nuclear weapons, one could argue that the human race is reflected in the remnants of the Krell race. While the audience is given know direct confirmation of anything about the Krell, from what they were to how they disappeared, the common inference is that they suffered a similar fate to Morbius; the Krell destroyed themselves with Id Monsters of their own. One could argue that this, just like other science fiction films of the time, reflects the anxieties of the public about nuclear annihilation of the whole human race. The Krell represent ourselves and that our future follows the same dark path that their species took. While The Day The Earth Stood Still poetically and optimistically ends on the note that there is still time to solve Earth’s problems, Forbidden Planet takes a different stance. One interpretation is that Forbidden Planet gives a much more pessimistic view – that despite the destruction of the Krell, Morbius, fuelled by pride and to an extent greed, follows suit and destroys himself too. This pessimistic approach serves the viewpoint that humans never change and that as a species, we are doomed by our flaws. On the other hand, another interpretation is a bittersweet approach; the final glimmer of hope is that the soldiers and Altaira all manage to escape, learning this lesson from Morbius and the Krell and potentially breaking the circle, which could represent the audience following the film.
Overall Forbidden Planet is certainly greatly affected by social issues of the time, relating to communism – all it entailed – and nuclear war. The filmmakers have clearly been influenced by the threat and anxiety fifties American society faced and this shines strongly through in the final film. The themes the film presents and the composition of its own world carries incredibly similar social issues to the real world of the time. My perspective is that the filmmakers were not only influenced by these issues subconsciously and coincidentally, but have consciously chosen to reflect these values and important messages from the society they inhabited in order to convey their political opinions and viewpoints on the state of their country. I believe that the imagery used is incredibly significant and details, to a potentially unaware audience, the problems of the world around them. In a world of anxiety, threat and terror, where the viewpoints of most were clouded by politics and danger, I believe the filmmakers set out to diffuse some of this anxiety by expressing an awareness of their own surroundings. Much like The Day The Earth Stood Still attempts to present this viewpoint by directly mirroring the world that a fifties American society knew, Forbidden Planet projects this onto another civilisation, another planet, light years away to create a bond between audience and message which could not be achieved through literal means. Forbidden Planet proves to the audience the dark society that surrounds them: the dangers of our own human flaws, the threat of nuclear holocaust and the injustice of McCarthyism by cleverly seating the audience far from the action, in the hopes that they can take this third person perspective on their own culture also.

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