“Id Id Id Id id Id!” says Dr. Edward Morbius in the face of “Doc” Ostrow’s death-bed revelation of the “horror” in the movie Forbidden Planet. A movie often challenged by film spectacle, but never surpassed. It is, after all, based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest, hence a glowing example of the intertextuality done so well and so important to SF.
I don’t know enough about psychiatry or psychology to understand why Freud’s theories are shuffled to the shadow. I always figured it was a matter of praxis in treatment and not one of structure. I do understand why they are challenging. A dive into depth psychology and the unconscious, at the least as metaphor, is of interest and value to me.
The scene following Ostrow’s death, Commander Adams as he confronts a anguished Doctor Morbius, is one that stays with me. The full shock of recognition on Morbius’ face, as he realizes what he could not understand by himself; the reason he told United Planets Cruiser C-57D not to make planetfall; the reason his wife and fellow crewmates were mashed to pulp; the reason his magnificent Krell fell in one night of unreasoning terror. Monsters from the Id. Monsters created by his self.
In the heat of the denouement Morris cries, “Guilty, guilty, my evil self is at that door, and I have no power to stop it!” Monsters offered up by Freudian theory in a complex of archaic conflict.
Oh, haven’t we all been there on some dark night of our soul. The terrible moment when we begin to get a glimmering of how twisted and destructive we can be. The concept is challenging and often not very appealing. It is at the root of all our demons. Like the face of the Medusa something we cannot endure viewing without a mediating mirror intervening. The horror is that thing in the basement of our psyche, multi-tendrilled, oozing slime, and eldritch. The doubt by which we set out to destroy ourselves. Mucking up the fine established image we have taken a lifetime to build. Takes us right out of our comfort zone.
Many a horror film dissolves when you get a glimpse of the made-up creature that haunts the storyline. There is the reason the music has to swell to a thrumming pitch, and the “thing” has to jump out to shock you, because exposed to the light, the filmmaker’s vision of horror unravels. Fades to the ludicrous. Cannot have the power of our confrontation with our own atavism. For the same reason many a creature that resides within the pages of a book, described in a tale around the campfire, or listened to on the tribal tom-tom of the radio, is not so easily dispelled. They ride in the dark and snarl when they are uncovered. Your imagination leaves you naked to confront them.
Id id id id id it is.
—Joe Coluccio, Parsec President