Klatu arrives in America in his spacecraft (like you do!)
to persuade the peoples of Earth to change their violent ways
or risk annihilation. With atomic power capability utilised
for bomb-making, the Earth is perceived as a threat to the
peace and stability of other worlds. When the world leaders
fail to agree on a venue, Klatu melts into the populace to
learn a little about everyday life and opinion. He approaches
a renowned professor, who agrees to collect together the leading
minds on the planet. Coupled with this, Klatu organises a
worldwide demonstration of power. But has he reckoned on the
primitive fears of mankind?...
is arguably the best of only a handful of classic science
fiction films to emerge in the fifties. Cold war paranoia
spawned a veritable hoard of tales blaming the Russians in
all but name - and their own atomic testing - for even the
smallest petty ills. However, The Day the Earth Stood Still
is the only example to expose this paranoia for the foolish
and dangerous fright-mongering it truly is, and to leave the
audience with a feeling of positive hope for the future. Even
so, it takes threats on a massive scale to force the leaders
of the world to consider change on a global scale. Who can
blame poor Klatu; if you were shot on your arrival and suffered
worse before your exit, wouldn't you resort to threats to
get your message across? Sometimes you have to talk to people
in the only language they can understand.
The main strength of this picture is its simplicity of style,
which lifts it well above period films of its ilk and ensures
that it still stands up well today. It's a straightforward
story intelligently realised.
Rennie's portrayal of the visitor Klatu is beautifully understated.
He looks and fundamentally acts the same as other men, and
yet he is subtly different. The odd comment here and there
threatens to betray him, but he never seeks to hide his true
feelings and the fact that the citizens of Earth are gearing
towards their own destruction. Everybody
is suspicious of their own shadow; when Klatu first makes
his appearance as Mr Carpenter at the boarding house, even
the boy Bobby believes him to be a government agent searching
for the alien.
Also wisely kept simple are the special effects which, particularly
in this era, can make or break the project. The spacecraft
as it approaches its landing point is shown as a disc of light,
and the model shot of the touchdown is filmed in distance
overhead perspective. The saucer set and its extending ramp
are impressive, and GORT, the robot guardian, is mainly kept
to longshots and extreme close-ups, rendering its presence
large and oppressive.
movie is full of defining moments, such as Klatu completing
complicated mathematical equations on a blackboard as a way
of gaining the professor's attention. There is the poignant
visit to a military graveyard, and the scene where the boy
persuades Mr Carpenter (Klatu) to take him to see the spacecraft.
Not realising his companion is the ship's operator, Bobby
asks about propulsion. A man in the crowd overhears Klatu's
"hypothetical" explanation and ridicules him, to the amusement
of others close-by. The fact that nothing is actively played
for laughs or is overtly ridiculous, means this film succeeds
on all levels. It is undeniably a genre classic.
some nice dvd extras: Commentaries, Remastering Comparisons,
Theatrical Trailer, and Movie Tone News of the time, reporting
on the multi-nation Japanese peace alliance. This might very
well have gained maximum points, but the sound quality could
have been better, and the Region 1 version contains a making-of
documentary, curiously absent from this release. But don't
let these quibbles turn you off.
in a copy now, or your world will be annihilated.
this item online
compare prices online so you get the cheapest
(Please note all prices exclude P&P - although
Streets Online charge a flat £1 fee regardless
of the number of items ordered). Click on the
logo of the desired store below to purchase
All prices correct at time of going to press.