on March 23, 2000
I know of only two films that are "haunted" by their film music: Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, and this one, Forbidden Planet. By "haunted," I mean that the film music forms an independent subtext about off-screen events, communicated directly to the viewer, which expresses something more profound than the emotions and experiences of the on-screen characters. In this film, the music is used to evoke a dead race, the Krell, that live on in their machines. We never see the Krell, but the ethereal music stands in for them. Listened to separate from the film, this score for Forbidden Planet has a visceral effect on the listener. Some of the tracks are loud and jarring; others lend themselves to quiet meditation. It's not film music in the traditional sense, but it's fun to listen to while the conscious mind is occupied elsewhere, say in reading or working.
on December 24, 2002
This was a clever film, a sci fi rendition of Shakespeare's "The Tempest." A trekkie whom I dated in my single days referred to the film as a prototype of Star Trek.
So the film, shot when I was just a boy, was a prototype, in many ways ahead of its time. So, thusly, is the music.
While electronics have become a way of life in the "developed" world now--How long has it been since you've heard a phone "ring?"--in the mid 1950s, they were still fantasy. The film works simulataneously at three levels, the interstellar voyage of the characters, the far more advanced technology/prehistory of the Krell, and the subliminal, and very animal, instinctive id. The composers did a clever job of mixing electronic sound effects with a "musical" tone, some later mimicked by a number of minimalist composers, to develop the ambiance of these levels.
If you haven't seen the film, maybe that description will entice you to see it. And the soundtrack will remind you of they mystery and intrigue of the story.
on July 30, 2005
Louis & Bebe Baron, pioneers in electronic film music.
It is clearly stated in the album's liner notes that no theremin was used in the creation of this landmark score and with good reason, the artists actually created by hand specialty circuits (in keeping with the basis of cybernetics) to create either individual sounds or sometimes even a huge long circuit board for a complete musical piece, it took them almost a year to do the entire score.
Worth owning just for the historical significance but IMO it definitely has a musical flow to it that has artistic merit.
on June 7, 2007
Yes, this is music! But I'm not surprised if there are doubts about it. Back in 1956 when I saw the movie (numerous times) in theaters, I didn't recognize the sounds as music either. I thought the Spacecruiser C-57D actually was supposed to sound like that when it landed. I thought the Krell power station emitted those sounds. I thought the id monster roared like that during its attacks. Even Louis and Bebe Barron weren't sure they were making music back when they started doing their first experiments, composing with electronic circuits and recording the results on tape. Even the movie credits state that they only provided "electronic tonalities". But that was because the studio feared union protest. The Barrons were not union members and didn't employ any players. But in the end this is a great filmscore. As soon as I take delivery of the Forbidden Planet Film Score Guide (search) I will begin trying to figure out how it might have been conceived. Louis was responsible for generating the sound elements; Bebe was the tape archivist and effective composer. But no notations of theirs have been published. The "film score guide" is an after-the-fact writeup by someone else.
This is excellent film background and has a great deal of importance in generating the emotional impact of the movie.
on March 24, 2001
Oh, my god.
What a great and eerie soundtrack! Wow! I am really, REALLY into weird, atmospheric, creepy horror soundtracks, and the more 70's-synthesized-sounding, the better (I could literally die happy tomorrow if they would just release the soundtracks to the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS! But that's never gonna happen, so...)
I first heard this soundtrack whilst listening to a Live365 internet horror radio station late one night while doing some web surfing. It immediately floored me and stopped me cold! I thought I had heard it all as far as horror soundtracks went. I hadn't. I still don't know how this one ever escaped my attention all these years, but it did. Thank god I've discovered it now...finally! This music is what I'm all about. This is weird, bizarre stuff, not quite "music" per se, really, but more of a startlingly freaky and twisted sonic landscape that slowly creeps up on you and envelopes you. It oozes. Assaults your senses with vicious frontal attacks. It floats around your head like a storm cloud. It's just beautiful! A real raw, primal, analogue synth production that just knocks my socks off every time I listen to it.
First track I ever heard off this soundtrack on that fateful Autumn night near Halloween of 2000 (fittingly), was, Track One, Main Title (Overture). I sat there in awe with my jaw hanging open, wondering what the heck this music was and where it came from! It sounded so fresh, so, I don't know; MODERN, that you can imagine my shock when I found out this was the soundtrack to a film dating back to 1956!! I couldn't believe it and had to double-check my sources. It still sends my mind reeling to think this soundtrack is that old. Man.
Stunning, eerie standouts are: Track One, of course. Track 9, An Invisible Monster Approaches (the creeping feeling of isolation and dread is just devastaing!). And Track 16, Giant Footprints In The Sand, just to name a few (ALL the tracks have a similar vibe, really). If you're looking for something really strange, really wierd and yes, scary, don't hesitate to pick this up. Some hear it and hate it and find it too sound-effecty, shrill, and un-musical (and it is), but if you can appreciate its unique sound and realize that this is more of an audio LANDSCAPE, as opposed to a "soundtrack", then I think you're gonna love it. This is now one of my favorite horror/sci-fi soundtracks of all-time! Thank you, Louis and Bebe Barron!!
on July 4, 1999
I was about 12 when "Forbidden Planet," MGM's fabulous 50s blend of space opera, Shakespeare and Freud, was released. I first saw it from the third or fourth row of a palatial Washington DC theater, surrounded by a huge CinemaScope screen and enveloped in magnetic stereo sound. Needless to say, it made an lasting impression, and the eerie "electronic tonalities" -- a frontrunner to today synthesized music -- created by the Barons knocked me out. (Desperate, I even tried once to record the film's main title sequence over the phone from a theater to a tape recorded set up at home -- didn't work.) There was no available recording of the score until a LP disc on the Planet label in the 70s or early 80s, and this is the first CD issue. It's a must have for fans to the film and sci-fi generally, and its historic value is not to be undervalued. Although it's pretty musical for an electronic score (with recognizable motifs for major characters and incidents), it's more musical special effects than music per se, and not everyone will find it endlessly listenable. In fact, some might say it's a perfect disc to put on to clear out unwanted hanger-ons at a late-night party. But people who don't know exactly what they are getting aren't likely to buy this in the first place, so warnings don't seem applicable. (By the way, whoever entered the tracks on the computer is way off; there aren't repeated tracks, and it's not "Once around again," it's "Once around Altair."
on January 19, 2013
It's revolutionary that it was the first purely electronic score for a film. It works wonderfully in tandem with the movie. You couldn't ask for better to set the tone and atmosphere for the film. Does it stand on it's own though? I don't think it does completely. That in no way is a slam for it in the fact it is perfect for what it is. Listening to the soundtrack itself though can be underwhelming and definitely have to be in the right mood and setting to enjoy it. For me it's just not that often. It's worth having though and I'm glad I bought it.
on June 3, 2015
Unconventional to say the least, Forbidden Planet is less a score than a series of sound effects. Made up of random noise repeated endlessly with absolutely no recognizable themes involved, it's not unlike listening to a demented pinball machine angrily letting off steam with a grinding of gears, some serious squeals and sirens galore. The din provided is frequently forlorn, a collection of clamor. Sometimes it feels like something sinister is percolating aimlessly, about to find a direction for its created malice. It is truly creepy and otherworldly, and yes, very evocative of an alien life form.
I found this soundtrack utterly fascinating and just had to have it. It's unlike anything I've heard before or since. Fantastic!
on November 8, 2013
The only thing that I feel compelled to mention is that the opening track Main Titles-Overture is literally that. We hear the MGM lion roar over the beginning of the music. This may have been the only sound elements available for all that I know. The last track Overture Reprise was performed differently, so that doesn't save the situation. In the end we have to be thankful that this music soundtrack is even available.
on August 26, 2015
This is the grand daddy of all electronic movie scores. Avoiding the use of the Theremin the husband and wife couple of Louis and Bebe Barron utilized various electronic devices to make ethereal sounds that seem both haunting and futuristic. This is the very FIRST all electronic soundtrack, predating the Moog Synthesizer and the current electronic revolution.. In the liner notes, Bebe Barron notes that many people over the years have told her that she and her husband captured the sound of their dreams. That is the perfect description, this album sounds like that haunting , otherworldly music of our subconscious. Creatures from the Id indeed!