Dennis R. Perry
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A paranoid parable of adaptation
Forbidden Planet, Frankenstein, and the atomic age
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While Forbidden Planet draws on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with science standing in for magic, an equally important source during this time of atomic paranoia is Frankenstein, which exposes the Cold War context during the mid-1950s, tying Forbidden Planet to other films concerned with the contemporary debate on how atomic power is to be controlled, and who is to control it. This is a problem Forbidden Planet’s Krell race neglected to consider, and it led to their annihilation. This essay makes a case for the importance of Frankenstein and its popular-culture progeny as important intertexts of Forbidden Planet in terms of the ties between Frankenstein and his monster, atomic scientists and theirs, and Morbius and his id monster. All three pairs embody variants of a process associated with information networks called feedback loops, in these cases connecting creators and creations.

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