The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 1951 American science fiction film directed by Robert Wise has become a classic genre film. Written by Edmund H. North, based on the short story “Farewell to the Master” (1940) by Harry Bates, the film stars Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Sam Jaffe, and Hugh Marlowe. In the film, a humanoid alien visitor comes to Earth, accompanied by a powerful robot, to issue humanity with an ultimatum.
One of the most impressive robots in screen history is Gort in “The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951),” A giant, gleaming silver machine that lumbers deliberately and purposefully to the commands of his master, Klaatu.
The robot, named “GORT” (Genetically Organized Robotic Technology) by the United States government, and Klaatu come to Earth in a sleek flying saucer, and are faced by United States armed forces. Humanoid Klaatu, in a space suit, walks down the ramp from his ship and before you know it a soldier accidentally shoots him. In response, Gort makes his entrance and shoots an energy beam from his eyes that makes all the weapons disappear.
The wounded Klaatu is taken to hospital but quickly escapes. He lives secretly among humanity as a normal human being and finds us unworthy. We are certainly too violent to control and use atomic weapons. What worries the aliens is that with our atomic weapons combined with rockets we will extend our warlike behavior beyond our planet.
At the climax of the movie, in a stadium of light, Klaatu tells the world and its leaders that if we don’t behave ourselves in the near future he will return with more than a cosmic telling off:
“If you threaten to extend your violence, this earth of yours will be reduced to a burnt-out cinder.”
There is a wish fulfilment behind this film that we can return to the certainty of a past Golden Age of certainty. Instead of flying saucers bringing frightening invaders that threaten to change or destroy our lives, the visitors in The Day the Earth Stood Still show that there is an order to the Universe. We human beings are the ones who are violent and disruptive, while life beyond our world is really orderly and peaceful. If we can suppress our war-like emotion and feuding, we can truly become citizens of the Universe.
The Day the Earth Stood Still 2008, the remake of the 1951 film classic, follows the 1951 screenplay adaptation of Edmund H. North, and is directed by Scott Derrickson, with Keanu Reeves starring as Klaatu (the alien observer) in this version. Unlike its 1951 predecessor, this version replaces the Cold War theme of global nuclear destruction with a the contemporary issue of humankind’s environmental damage to the planet, following Klaatu, as an alien observers sent to determine if mankind can change its inherent human behavior of destroying the planets environment, or whether it would be best to eradicate them from the face of the planet.
The film was originally scheduled for release on 9 May 2008, but was instead released on a ‘roll-out (gradual)’ schedule beginning 12 December 2008, screening in both conventional and IMAX theaters. The critical reviews were mostly negative, with only about a 21% of positive rating; most claiming that the film was found to be too “heavy on special effects, and without a coherent story at its base”. Yet, on its opening week, the film took the number one spot at the U.S. box office and grossing over $233 million worldwide. The Day the Earth Stood Still 2008, was released on DVD in April 2009.