Filmsite Movie Review
Forbidden Planet (1956)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Morbius' Teenaged Daughter Altaira:

Morbius was startled (and displeased) by the appearance of his lovely, doe-eyed 19 year-old daughter Altaira (or "Alta") (Anne Francis), named after the planet, who had been discouraged by her father to attend the hosted luncheon. The barefoot, innocent Eve-like character in the Edenic setting, wearing a flesh-colored miniskirt, had never seen men (other than her father) - and upon seeing three young and eligible male crew members, she was intrigued and marveled:

I've always so terribly wanted to meet a young man, and now three of them at once.

Morbius excused his daughter's sheltered life, since she had been born and raised in the alien world: "Of course, you must make allowances for my daughter, gentlemen. She's never known any human being except her father." She was the second known survivor of the ill-fated colony, who had been saved with her father from a forceful, unknown, nocturnal power or 'creature.'

Among the smitten men, Lieutenant Farman acted very solicitiously, friendly and over-helpful toward the beautiful young female, and joined her to get coffee. "Doc" responded and proactively excused the crewmen's behavior: "I hope you'll make allowances too, sir. We young men have been shut up in hyperspace for well over a year now and right from here, the view looks just like heaven."

Morbius admitted he must one day take his isolated daughter to Earth: "Yes, I suppose one day I shall be obliged to make the trip to Earth with her for the sake of her natural development."

Altaira admitted to Lt. Farman that her father was skeptical of Earthmen, but then noted: "All three of you are such very fine exceptions." Farman tried to play up his own romantic availability and trustworthiness when compared to "Doc" or the Commander (who was noted as being especially suspicious): "I don't feel free to discuss the shortcomings of a fellow officer but - any girl or woman who lets him get her alone, anywhere.....!" But Altaira seemed naively innocent about his own self-interest, flirtations and seductive insinuations: "I'm so glad you don't have any fire in your eyes, Lieutenant."

The overprotective and possessive Morbius falsely emphasized how he had given his daughter "liberty" to leave Altair to visit Earth whenever she wanted: "I've explained to them that you have my permission to visit Earth whenever you choose." He had deliberately kept her confined, extended her infantile childhood and not permitted her to fully mature and venture outward in her life. (She was completely unaware of his research into the Krell technology and its mind-boosting device.)

She responded, however, that she had never felt lonely or confined with the friends she had there:

I have you and Robby and all my friends.

With a high-pitched whistle, she summoned her 'friends' outside in the pastoral setting - two fairly-tame deer and then a docile but fierce-looking, growling striped tiger. Morbius assured the crew members that "outside of the range of my daughter's influence, it's still a deadly wild beast."

[Note: It would later be revealed that the tiger wasn't a real animal, but a manifestation of Morbius' own subconscious - it remained obedient and harmless if she was subservient to his desires.]

A Delay in the Ship's Departure:

At the end of their time together, Adams was contacted by Chief Quinn back at the spaceship. He activated his viewer to prove to the Chief that they were safe and "under no restraint whatsoever." Morbius persuasively urged the visitors that he hoped they could return to Earth as soon as possible: "If I can be of any help to you in your preparations for the homeward voyage...," but Adams informed him that "circumstances" might keep them there for awhile longer. He needed to remain there longer, especially due to the unexpected news of the fatalities and a required change in future instructions. Morbius clearly was reluctant to leave the planet even temporarily.

Commander Adams: My orders don't quite seem to cover the Bellerophon fatalities. I-I'm forced now to contact base for new instructions.
Morbius: But, Commander, suppose these new instructions require my return to Earth for questioning? Two years or more away from my work here. Tell me, just what is involved in your making contact with Earth base?

Morbius was particularly displeased when Adams explained how the crew would have to cannibalize vitally important parts from the ship, in order to create a powerful transmitter and send a signal back to Earth. The ship's nuclear energy core (along with some of the ship's electronic equipment) would need to be removed and taken outside of the ship, to create a communications relay-signal or transmitter that had enough power to make contact with the base. It would prove to be a monumental feat to signal and to receive responses from the Commander's superiors - at a distance of over 16 light years. It was also problematic that the crew lacked a lead-shielded bunker (dug into the ground, a time-consuming task) that would be required to shield the energy core, in order to protect them from exposure to radiation:

Commander Adams: Well, fundamentally, it's a question of crude power. How to short-circuit the continuum on a five- or six-parsec level. Of course, a transmitter of that sort isn't exactly standard equipment. To build one, we'd have to cannibalize about two-thirds of the ship's electronic gear, and then unship the main drive to juice it. Just to construct a bunker to house the core would take about 10 days.
Morbius: Disabled here for 10 days and nights? Tell me, would, uh, 2-inch lead shielding do as well?
Commander Adams: It'd be better if we have to be carrying about a hundred square yards of the stuff.

Anxious to expedite their departure, Morbius volunteered the services of Robby, who could synthesize any material. The robot could provide them with the needed 2-inch lead shielding. Morbius didn't consider himself "obliging," but only concerned that they could safely depart the planet - as he gestured to a cemetery in the far distance:

Look out there, Commander. The Bellerophon party. Nineteen years ago, I dug those graves with my own hands. And I have, believe me, no wish to repeat that experience.

The men were chauffeured back to their spacecraft by Robby's vehicle, as Morbius (with his arm around his daughter's waist) and Altaira watched them leave.

The Next Day - At the Spacecraft:

The next morning, the crew carefully removed the nuclear energy core from the spacecraft, remarking: "It has to get us home." Using a tractor vehicle and a magnetic hoist-puller, they transported it to a distance away from the ship to avoid interference and contamination. As a practical joke, the Cook was picked up with the magnetic hoist by the crane operator.

Accompanied by Altaira riding along with him in the Jeep-like vehicle, Robby arrived at the construction site with the solid-lead shielding in the form of rectangular stacks of large grayish slabs (composed of isotope 217, a theoretical substance that has never existed or been created). He easily carried the slabs with his left arm, and explained that with his superhuman strength, he could lift extremely heavy objects, such as the shielding: "Common lead would have crushed the vehicle, sir. This is my morning's run of isotope 217. The whole thing hardly comes to 10 tons."

[Note: Robby's assumption was that "common lead" would have been too heavy for a single trip. Therefore, he had synthesized and brought along a special 217 isotope as a lighter-weight substitute. But in actual scientific fact, the isotope 217 would have been about 4-5% more massive than common lead (at an atomic weight of 208) - and more likely to crush the vehicle, as well as being very unsafe and also radioactive.]

Lt. Farman found an opportunity to speak to Altaira by walking away from the saucer with her to find a private place alone. Commander Adams and "Doc" were distracted by Chief, to check on his assembly of the monitor unit for the klystron transmitter. He noted how he had borrowed some of the condensers from the accelerator circuits and some of the solenoids from the gyrostabilizers. Plans were to complete the assembly and transmit communications to the base the next day.

Meanwhile, the ship's Cook led Robby aside to ask if the robot knew where to acquire some "real stuff...just for cooking purposes." He produced an almost-empty small bottle of bourbon ("genuine ancient rocket bourbon") from inside his shirt and took a swig. Robby grabbed the bottle, emptied it into his built-in chemical laboratory for analysis, and reported on its contents, and the quantity of potent brew he could reproduce: "Relatively simple alcohol molecules with traces of fusel oil. Would 60 gallons be sufficient?" The Cook was amazed: "I've been from here to there in this galaxy, and I want you to know you're the most understanding soul I ever met up with."

Lt. Farman and Altaira - Kissing Lessons:

Not far from the saucer's landing area, Lt. Farman was teaching Altaira about how to kiss and its health benefits:

Farman: It's nothing really personal. It's just a kiss.
Altaira: But why should people wanna kiss each other?
Farman: Oh, it's an old custom. All of the really high civilizations go in for it.
Altaira: But it's so silly.
Farman: But it's good for you, though. It stimulates the whole system. As a matter of fact, you can't be in tiptop health without it.
Altaira: Really? I didn't know that.
Farman: I'd be only too happy to show you.
Altaira: Well, thank you very much, lieutenant. No trouble at all. (They kissed) Is that all there is to it?
Farman: Well, you - you've sort of got to stick with it. (They kissed again) Hmm.
Altaira: Just once more. Do you mind?
Farman: Oh, not at all. (He obliged her)
Altaira: I don't know, lieutenant. There must be something seriously the matter with me because, honestly, I haven't noticed the least bit of stimulation.
Farman: Honey, let's do this thing right. Now here. (They continued with a longer kiss)

The two were interrupted by high-ranking officer Adams who disguised his jealousy by immediately dismissing Farman - to return to the ship to attend to "a lot of pressing duties." Farman was reprimanded for using his rank to take his "kind of advantages." Adams then turned his agitated rebuke and anger onto Altaira for dressing in an inappropriate, short mini-skirt, and for leading on the 'space wolf' lieutenant:

Well, what do you expect? Well, don't you understand, Alta?...Well, look at yourself. You see, you can't run around like that in front of men. Particularly not a space wolf like Farman. So for Pete's sake, go home and put on something that'll, uh - anything.

She took offense at his criticisms of her dress: "I designed them myself. Stop looking at me that way. I don't think I like it." She claimed they were merely getting "a little healthy stimulation from hugging and kissing, that's all," and didn't understand the underlying reason for his flustered hurt when he insulted her for her naively-innocent provocations. He warned her of the hormonal urges of his male, sex-deprived crew, and that it would have 'served her right' if her flirtations ended up in sex. Ultimately, Adams lost patience with her and ordered her away:

It's so easy for you, isn't it? There's no feelings, no emotions, you - nothing human would ever enter your mind. Well, it so happens that I'm in command of 18 competitively-selected, super-perfect physical specimens with an average age of 24.6 who have been locked up in hyperspace for 378 days. It would have served you right if I hadn't...Oh, go on. Get out of here before I have you run out of the area under guard. And then I'll put more guards on the guards.

[Note: Calculations provided their spaceship's overall speed. The journey was 378 days / 365.2422 days = 1.0349 years. Since the ship's destination, the star system Altair, was 16.7 light-years from Earth, that meant that their average speed was 16.7 / 1.0349 = 16.1368, or a bit over 16 times the speed of light. Thus, they had experienced a transluminal speed achieved through the hyperdrive. The C-57D spaceship's average speed on the voyage to Altair was 16.1368 times the speed of light.]

Altaira's Romantic Ploy to Entrap Commander Adams:

Later that day, Altaira informed her father of her confrontation with the Commander, quoting what he had said to her: ("And then I'll put more guards on the guards"). She was furious (and embarrassed) about Adams' condescending treatment toward her for being romantic with Lt. Farman:

I don't like him. I just don't like him. The way he kept looking at me. Then he shouted....It was awful. I was only trying to be nice about kissing the lieutenant...He was furious. He seemed to think that all that about biology had something to do with me. Personally, I mean. Never been so nervous in all my life. And I hope I don't see him again if I live to be 400 million.

Morbius retreated to his study, while Altaira summoned Robby, who arrived late and gave a humorous excuse:

I was giving myself an oil job.

She had thought up a coy way to sexually entice AND entrap Adams by fulfilling his suggestion of a less revealing dress - she requested that the robot produce one by the next morning -- "Absolutely nothing must show, below, above or through... Eye-proof....It must be the loveliest, softest thing you've ever made for me. And fit in all the right places with lots and lots of star sapphires." To save time, Robby suggested diamonds or emeralds instead, and Altaira agreed, although she specified that they had to be "large enough" - at five, 10, and 15 carats.

The First Appearance of an Unseen Presence:

It wasn't a coincidence that after Morbius was informed of the sexual tension developing between the sex-starved officers of the spacecraft and his daughter, that there would be retaliation.

[Note: There was a creepy, incestuous subtext in the film, Freudian in nature, that Morbius had a subconscious, protective desire and jealous longing for his only daughter, once she had become desirous of other males' attention.]

That evening, two posted sentry-guards - crew members Strong (James Drury) and Grey (Robert Dix) stood watch outside the spacecraft, and marveled at the planet's two moons. Grey sensed that the ship was entered by an unseen force after he heard the sound of "big breathing." The camera tracked up the craft's exterior staircase, while the electronic score emphasized each footstep of an invisible being. Inexplicably, the inner hatch into the spacecraft opened, and an object was moved within the command center while one of the sleeping crew members in his bunk, Youngerford (Jimmy Thompson), stirred but then went back to sleep.

The next morning, furious Commander Adams reported sabotage of vital communications gear (including the klystron transmitter) inside the ship, even though the spacecraft was being guarded: "This ship was entered and valuable government property was sabotaged.... the heavy-duty hatch was raised and latched back....Grey - you heard breathing. And Youngerford, let me see, you were asleep in your bunk and you think you had a dream." The three crew members involved were punished by being deprived of space pay and privileges.

Quinn assured the Commander that most of the damaged equipment could be repaired: "Half of this gear we can replace out of stores, and the rest we can patch up one way or another. Except this special klystron frequency modulator. Now, with every facility of the ship, I think I might be able to rebuild it. But frankly, the book says no. It came packed in liquid boron in a suspended gravity."

Before leaving to question and confront Morbius about the incident, Adams put Lt. Farman in command, and ordered the establishment of a protective perimeter of pylons around the ship, with "Class-A alert." Adams set off with "Doc" Ostrow in the ship's tractor-vehicle for Morbius' home.

Commander Adams and Altaira - Romantic Feelings:

Inside Morbius' home, while Robby was arranging flowers, a mischievous and pesky 'monkey' pet was attempting to steal fruit from a bowl, and was stung or zapped by Robby's laser ray for being disobedient. When Adams and "Doc" arrived at Morbius' home, Robby informed them that Morbius was busy in his study and not to be disturbed until his door opened. While waiting inside, Adams caught a quick glance of Altaira swimming outside in a pool - appearing to be nude. When she urged him to join her, he responded: "Didn't bring my bathing suit," and she asked innocently:

What's a bathing suit?

She deliberately teased him into thinking she was naked. Adams became flustered and unsettled, and averted his gaze when she emerged from the water. It was revealed that she was not nude, but wearing a nearly-nude, flesh-colored suit. While seductively drying off behind a bush, she told him that she was planning to surprise him by putting on her new dress: "Well, don't worry, you're not gonna have to look at me anymore from now on. You'll see..." Altaira was still smarting over his rude treatment of her: "I sure didn't expect to see you today after the way you spoke to me yesterday." After he apologized ("I was sort of bothered"), she stepped out and revealed her new long, non-transparent dress - inspired by his criticisms of her short, infantile mini-skirt:

Altaira: You can look now. Nothing shows through, does it? I had it made especially for you.
Adams: Oh, I thought you weren't expecting me today.
Altaira: I wasn't. I don't know, I guess there's something about me personally you don't like.

She continued to be inviting, flirtatious and encouraging when he called her beautiful: "Why don't you kiss me like everybody else does?" and played up her assets, including theoretical biology: "I have had poetry, mathematics, logic, physics, geology and bi- ology?" Intrigued and irresistibly attracted to each other, he stepped forward and they embraced and passionately kissed. Suddenly and without warning, Altaira's pet tiger appeared and growled at them. Altaira assured Adams: "He's my friend," but the fierce animal jumped toward both of them. Adams shot and disintegrated the beast in mid-air with his blaster-gun, and she was truly astonished and mystified that her pet animal had turned against her: "But he didn't recognize me. He would have killed me. Why?"

[Note: After romantic attraction and sexual feelings had emerged in his daughter, the tiger emerged from Morbius' beastly, incestuous, possessive subconscious as a killer.]

When Adams rejoined "Doc" Ostrow in Morbius' home, the philologist still hadn't emerged. Adams hinted to "Doc" that there was a new complication - he had begun a relationship with Altaira: "Something new has been added."

Morbius' Tale of the Krell and a Tour of Their Technological Wonders:

They entered his study door to find that Morbius was absent. The windowless room featured a curved desk, a backdrop of the universe, a chalkboard with calculations, and a large globe of the constellations. Adams suspected that Morbius was "up to something." At that moment, Morbius entered behind them through a hidden, triangular-shaped doorway and saw them inspecting a sheet of paper on his desk with hieroglyphic writings. He indirectly confronted them with outrage, and accused them of being thieves:

You'll find the silver in the dining room and my daughter's jewelry on her table.

Adams notified Morbius of the damage to their transmitting equipment: "Last night our klystron monitor was sabotaged," and Morbius concluded that he was a suspect: "And you suspect me?"

Morbius felt that it was time to explain to them his great discoveries of the Krell, a highly evolved civilization and their miraculous achievements and technology. He began a long explanation about how the planet of Altair IV had been inhabited by an advanced race of beings known as the Krell. They had explored Earth millions of years ago and brought back Earth's animals, such as the tiger, to their world there:

In times long past, this planet was the home of a mighty and noble race of beings which called themselves the Krell. Ethically and well as technologically, they were a million years ahead of humankind, for in unlocking the mysteries of nature, they had conquered even their baser selves. And when, in the course of eons, they had abolished sickness and insanity, and crime and all injustice, they turned, still with high benevolence, outward towards space. Long before the dawn of man's history, they had walked our Earth and brought back many biological specimens...

He then explained how the entire superintelligent and wise race was apparently wiped out in a single night some 200,000 years earlier by a mysterious catastrophic force, when they were on the verge of some crowning achievement or great break-through. The vast advancements of their once great race 2,000 centuries earlier, including highly-sophisticated machinery far beyond anything yet discovered in the 23rd century, were left behind after their disappearance, but functioning only deep beneath the surface of the planet:

The heights they had reached, but then, seemingly on the threshold of some supreme accomplishment, which was to have crowned their entire history, this all but divine race perished in a single night. In the 2,000 centuries since that unexplained catastrophe, even their cloud-piercing towers of glass and porcelain and adamantine steel have crumbled back into the soil of Altair-IV and nothing, absolutely nothing, remains above ground.

When asked about their physical appearance, Morbius continued his account, surmising that there was a hint of their shape in the triangular doorways:

No record of their physical nature has survived. Except, perhaps, in the form of this characteristic arch. I suggest you consider it in comparison to one of our functionally-designed human doorways.

He played a recording for the two officers of their strange, dissonant and haunting music, recorded by Krell musicians a half-million years ago. He then conducted them on an extended tour to view "other remaining artifacts" and wonders of the Krell culture and race. As he led them, he encouraged Adams to shoot his blaster at one of the Krell metal doorways - the blast was completely ineffective, not even molten or warm, as he extolled the remarkable substance: "The molecules are many times more densely interlocked than in earthly steel. Yet it drinks up energy like a sponge."

Morbius manipulated some door controls that opened up a secret doorway to a corridor that brought them into one of the Krell laboratories. Much of the equipment looked familiar - "though designed for non-human technicians." He activated a viewing screen that displayed much of the Krell's accumulated scientific knowledge, similar to a "library":

On this screen may be projected the total scientific knowledge of the Krell from its primitive beginning to the day of its annihilation. A sheer bulk surpassing many million earthly libraries.

Their advanced technological and sophisticated civilization from 2,000 centuries earlier had been the subject of Morbius' research for the past 20 years, and he had devoted his life to recovering their lost knowledge for mankind. He had inadvertently tapped into their technological knowledge in the early days of his research and after piecing things together, he had expanded his intelligence (as a simple philologist) through their Krell resources - enabling him to build Robby the robot:

Twenty years ago I began here with this page of geometrical theorems. Eventually, I was able to deduce most of their huge logical alphabet I began to learn. The first practical result was that robot of mine which you gentlemen appear to find so remarkable. Child's play. I've come here every day now for two decades, painfully picking up a few of the least difficult fragments of their knowledge.

When asked by "Doc" Ostrow, Morbius showed off one of the Krell's mechanical wonders - an I.Q. measuring device known as a "plastic educator" that was powered by the electromagnetic waves of the brain. He also called the three-pronged, cranium head-set device a plaything for visualizing images. He had greatly increased his own mental prowess and psychic powers through the Krell's I.Q. machine:

They used it to condition and test their young, in much the same way as we once employed finger-painting among our children. I often play with it myself for relaxation...Now, you can see that this headset was designed for something much bulkier than my human cranium. Now, over here you see the electromagnetic waves of my brain sending that indicator up about halfway. I gather that one of their own young, comparable to a seven-year-old child, was normally expected to send that all the way to the top - which by Krell standards classifies me as a low-grade moron. [Note: An IQ in the 51-70 range] Yet I have an officially recorded IQ of 183. Now then, for the primary function...

The Krell had developed the instrument to convert their very thoughts formed in the mind into physical forms. He demonstrated the visualization power by displaying from his own mind a three-dimensional holographic image - and in a semi-perverse way, he selected for visualization his own daughter Altaira:

I'll choose a familiar subject to start with to save time. (He thought of Altaira) Simply a three-dimensional image, Commander... because my daughter is alive in my brain from microsecond to microsecond while I manipulate.

[Note: This sequence was paid homage in Star Wars, when Princess Leia was brought up as a 3D hologram.]

"Doc" marveled that the device was a magical and miraculous scientific invention: "Aladdin's lamp in a physics laboratory."

When both "Doc" and Adams took the Krell IQ test, their results registered lower than expected scores. Morbius described his own first effort to use the machine when he barely survived the intense mental stimulation. [Note: He also briefly mentioned, in a foreshadowing, how Bellerophon's captain tried the machine and was instantly killed.]:

In my first attempt at creating an image here, my brain pattern there was scarcely any larger than yours. Afterwards, I lay unconscious for a day and a night....But you can imagine my joy when I discovered that the shock had permanently, permanently doubled my intellectual capacity. Otherwise, my researchs here would've come to nothing, poor as they have been.

Morbius further described one of the Krell's final projects before their annihilation. The Krell's last invention was designed as a major improvement over their simple 'matter replicator' - the kind that was built into Robby:

One which they actually seemed to hope might somehow free them once and for all from any dependence on physical instrumentalities.

The objective of this new invention for the highly-evolved Krell was to bypass the step of providing and feeding a sample of actual matter into a machine for analysis and replication. Now, they could imagine anything deep in their subconscious mind - and they could instantly give form, energy and substance to it. They could also transport themselves to any place on the planet - to be freed of the physical limitations of their bodies.

[Note: The destructive implications of their desire to be freed of physicality, and to give form and substance to every subconscious imagining was left unexplored and dropped.]

Commander Adams questioned why none of the ancient equipment in the laboratory showed signs of aging or wear. Morbius gave a simple explanation: "Young man, these devices, self-serviced, self-maintained, have stood exactly as you see them for 2,000 centuries." Adams asked a follow-up question: "What was the power source?" Morbius answered cryptically by showing off a large series of power measurement gauges, each registering ten times the previous one:

Their calibrations appear to indicate that they are set in decimal series. Each division recording exactly 10 times as many amperes as the one preceding it. Ten times 10, times 10, times 10, times 10, times 10, on and on and on, row after row, gauge after gauge, but there is no direct wiring that I could discover....The number 10 raised almost literally to the power of infinity.

"Doc" realized the tremendous potential of exponential power increases:

Why, the total potential here must be nothing less than astronomical.

A shuttle car ride took the group deeper into the underground to view more Krell wonders - beginning with the vast and intricate Krell ventilation system. Morbius prepared his visitors for what they would see - a giant vent system of shafts that led to the core of the planet. Their tiny figures walked out onto a platform of one shaft, engulfed and swallowed up by the immense Krell machinery surrounding them on all sides. He described how the system (buried far underground) was cubic in shape - it measured 20 miles per side. There were a total of 400 deep cubic shafts (with "78 hundred levels" in each cube), for a total of 8,000 cubic miles:

Prepare your minds for a new scale of physical scientific values, gentlemen. Twenty miles...Circuits opening and closing. And they never rest. This is one of their ventilator shafts. You can feel the warm air rising. Look down here....7,800 levels and 400 other shafts like this one. Yes, a single machine. A cube 20 miles on each side. For 2,000 centuries, it has waited patiently here, tuning and lubricating itself, replacing worn parts.

The ventilation shafts serviced a vast, self-repairing machine, powered by untold amounts of energy derived from the planet's core. He offhandedly mentioned what had happened 16 years earlier - there was a reaction to an event that had happened in the past (possibly the destruction of the Bellerophon?). There was also a slight reaction when their United Planets cruiser approached and registered a disturbance on the environment's instruments:

I have reason to believe that 16 years ago, a minor alteration was performed throughout the entire 8,000 cubic miles of its own fabric....Nearly a whole dial became active when your ship first approached from deep space.

He also showed off a section of one of the thermonuclear power units (one of a total of 9,200 thermonuclear reactors), still functioning. Two screens were illuminated - a visual representation of the planet's "harnessed power":

These units are sunk in the body of the planet, 50 miles right below our feet. Now, be sure and look only in the mirror. Man does not behold the face of the Gorgon and live. Ninety-two hundred thermonuclear reactors in tandem. The harnessed power of an exploding planetary system.

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