Louis and Bebe Barron's Forbidden Planet: A Film Score Guide

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Scarecrow Press, Jun 30, 2005 - Music - 200 pages
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Forbidden Planet is a product of the MGM studio, which at the time of the production of this film was hardly in the business of making science-fiction films. Originally planned as a "B" picture, the 1956 Forbidden Planet was praised for its spectacular special effects and brilliant color cinematography. The plot practically tingles with sexual innuendo and the dialogue is rich in references to Freudian psychology. However, in spite of all this, the film was marketed to a juvenile audience.

Notwithstanding its uncommon look and "feel," perhaps the most unusual aspect of the film is the way it sounds. Never before had a major Hollywood effort utilized a score generated entirely by electronic means, yet seldom does one find commentary on how Louis and Bebe Barron's score again and again challenges Hollywood norms.

In addition to placing the composers and film in historical context, James Wierzbicki's study offers a deep and thorough analysis of not only the music as used in the film, but also of the decontextualized music as presented by the Barrons on the 1977 "original soundtrack album." The text is generously illustrated with transcriptions and graphs, and can serve as a model for the examination of other extended works of electronic music for which no written score has ever existed.

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Origins and Connections
Compositional Techniques
Historical and Critical Contexts
The Music
The Film Score
About the Author

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About the author (2005)

James Wierzbicki teaches musicology at the University of Michigan and serves as executive editor of the American Musicological Society's MUSA (Music of the United States of America) series of critical editions.

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