Jul 10, 2014

How Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet influenced Star Wars

robby the robot

How Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet influenced the development of C3PO 

We've covered the influences that films and novels have had over George Lucas but Kitbashed found a great one in the form of the movie Forbidden Planet. I particularly enjoyed to discovering how the famous 'Robby the Robot' had an influence on the robot that became C3PO.

While we have previously discussed how Ralph McQuarrie's design for C3PO was inspired by the Maschinenmensch from Fritz Lang's famous film, Metropolis and that his comedy duo act with his foil R2D2 came from The Hidden Fortress, it's Robby the Robot that sets the tone of the golden rod. 

Early C3PO design sketch
Early C3PO design sketch
How many times in the Star Wars movies does C3PO mention that he is a protocol droid that is capable of speaking some 6 gabillion languages? A thousand? Robbie the Robot did it first as he was being introduced to the human space travelers:

"If you do not speak English, I am at your disposal with 187 other languages, dialects and sub-tongues"

Kitbashed cleverly notes that this example means that Robby the Robot is effectively a proto-protocol droid.

Word on the street has it that George Lucas has stated that the lumbering robot was not a direct inspiration for C3PO. This is not wholly true. In the documentary about science fiction films of the 1950's a, Look at the Sky! discussion is had with the directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas about Forbidden Planet.

Spielberg suggests that Lucas must have been inspired by Robby as he developed C3P0′s character. Lucas naturally suggested he was more influenced by Metropolis. That may be so for the 'look' of C3PO but Lucas totally stole the protocol droid idea whether he admits it or not!

There's a further reference to Robby in A New Hope. At a point in Forbidden Planet the character Alta tries several times to summon Robby with her remote control, he excuses his absence with having been busy taking an 'oil bath'.

What does C3PO do when he gets to Luke's moisture farm? He has an oil bath and he exclaims "Thank the maker! This oil bath is going to feel so good."

And now that we know Darth Vader is C3PO's maker, the line is doubly clever.

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