The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) is a massively influential sci-fi classic by director Robert Wise. The development of atomic weaponry has made humanity a threat to the stability of the rest of the galaxy. A humanoid alien name Klaatu arrives on earth in a flying saucer with his giant robot servant Gort. He is on earth to warn the nations of the world to desist in there war like ways or be destroyed.
Fig 1: The Arival of Klaatu
Klaatu is looked upon with fear by the majority of humanity after he escapes the custody of the US Government. Klaatu is eventually killed by police but is resurrected by Gort. It is at this point in the story that parallels with the life of Jesus Christ becomes blatant, if it wasn’t already. This was very controversial at the time, the film makers were forced to add a line confirming the existence of god. However the idea of updating the Jesus myth to a 1950’s setting is extremely interesting “Robert Wise looks at the Atomic Age and wonders: What would Jesus do?" Croce (2009).
Fig 2: Klaatu's Final Speech Before Ascending
The film could also be interpreted as a criticism of the way the United States views its own interventions (Korean War). Perhaps Wise is trying to demonstrate the hypocrisy of imposing morality on foreign cultures using threats and intimidation. Or perhaps a less cynical interpretation would be more accurate. Maybe the film is simply attempting to illustrate the importance of global harmony, “the film holds out hope for the United Nations that has yet to be fulfilled” (Canavese, 2008).
The film has some very impressive Special effects for a 1950’s film. The initial flying saucer landing on The National Mall is particularly impressive. The slick, simple and classic design of both the ship and Gort the robot look fantastic.
Fig 3: Flying Saucer on The Mall
Despite a few cheesy dated moments The Day the Earth Stood Still, with its political themes, great story and characters, remains relevant, interesting and entertaining.
Fig 1, Arrival of Klaatu, Available At: http://videarius.eu/s/the%20day%20the%20earth%20stood%20still%20summary
Fig 2, Klaatu's Final Speech Before Ascending, Available At: http://coolalbumreview.com/?p=11471
Fig 3, Flying Saucer on The Mall, Available At: http://silent-volume.blogspot.com/2010/02/day-earth-stood-still-1951.html
Fernando F. Croce, CiniPassion, Dec 8th 2009, Available At: http://www.cinepassion.org/Reviews/d/DayEarthStoodStill.html
Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews, Dec 30th 2008, Available At: http://www.grouchoreviews.com/reviews/3280