“The Day the Earth Stood Still”(1958)

Klaatu and Gort

klaatu barada nikto

final speech

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7 Responses to ““The Day the Earth Stood Still”(1958)”

  1. John Aromolaran Says:

    This film had very interesting ideas of what the term “other” can possibly refer to. Because when we think if the term “other” we automatically think of another creature that looks vastly different from us on earth, i.e, aliens. However in this film it almost seem as though they were trying portray what the earth would be in the future. For example,insinuating that we would start to use diamonds as a currency. Carpenter looked completely human. He only seemed to be a lot more mentally advance and technologically sound. So in other words maybe the term “other” can also refer to us humans in years to come.

  2. this is a good point. “Other” does also mean “unfamiliar.” if you interpret the film this way, then, you interpret the whole message it proposes in very positive terms. instead of threatening destruction for the human kind, it could try and imagine a world where wars are absent and Robots such as Gort are making sure that no violence and no crime are perpetrated.

  3. Also. Why do you think that Klaatu was purposely portrayed as human?
    is it because he is meant to represent the future?
    or is it because he is not really representing a threat, but just a “warning” for the human existence and the spokesperson of a critique of the world’s 1950s society?

  4. Andrew Rodo Says:

    I feel as though Klaatu was portrayed as human to eliminate the already extreme differences between the “alien” and “man”. With Klaatu resembling a human, the audience and other characters in the film could easily relate in a sense to a similar species rather than a robot i.e. Gort. A perfect example of this would be when Klaatu exits his spaceship and tension amongst the crowd rises. The fear of the unknown is quickly diminished as the figure is identified as resembling a human. However, even with such a similarity he is still attacked by humans. His vulnerability is evident when he is shot, which also makes him more human to the crowd. Had he been a machine and was unharmed after being shot at, chaos would ensue as humans would realize that they were powerless in defeating this unknown creature. This would also eliminate the possibility for any type of message to be acknowledged. Therefore, he is more a “spokesperson” rather than a threat and is sent to explain the dangers that will be created if humans continue acting the way they currently were in the 1950’s.

  5. In an era where multi-million dollar CGI and ‘special effects’ in major motion pictures have become so prominent and appealing to its audience, it comes as a surprise that Robert Wise’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is still a film one can tastefully enjoy.

    Although Wise’s use of special effects is limited, its purpose is simple and effective. From the beginning, we see the planet Earth, presumably somewhere in the 1950s, and as the event of “otherness” spreads throughout the world, we are not only shown humanities attentiveness to the broadcast of such news, but in addition, we are shown these people paused.. or ‘standing still’ ..in the midst of their everyday activities. This, I think, is crucial and essential to the relation of the course, the time period it reflects, as well as the movie as a whole: as it shows the simple interruption of “normal” society and the “invasion” of a new one. In addition, this is also exemplified in the scene where Klaatu emits the EMP and yet again disrupts the “normal” life displaying various cuts of what seemed to be everyday activities.

    Besides the more visual aspect of the film, another element that has become significantly prominent in Wise’s film is that of its audio/theatrical score. Being one of the more earlier work in the science-fiction film genre, the audio can sometimes do more than the actors/actress’ words. In the beginning of the movie, we come to terms with what seems to be a set of strings and instruments that create a collaborated ‘eerie’ sounding ambiance. This is used to situate that something strange or odd is happening or about to happen. This demonstrates that the music in this film accompanies the emotions felt by that of the “normal”–whether it are the normalized characters in the film, or the audience themselves. For example, this ‘eerie’ sound is used for the discovery, broadcast, and sight of the “other” because it is an odd sound, especially for the time period, and is an uncommon sound to hear in reality. Throughout the movie, I found that the low pitch sounds signifies and accompanies the actions of mystery and/or trouble, and possibly danger, for the “norm” and that the higher pitches are accompanied by the actions of something strange or humanly absurd.

    –SeanC

  6. Jenn Rickert Says:

    Drawing from the communism scare of the 50’s, having Klaatu look like everyday mankind (aka human) relates very well to the idea that communists look just like everyone else, and thus, just like Klaatu can infiltrate unseen and manipulate the citizens around them. Just like the reds, he is seen as a fugitive, one who must be tracked down and captured for the good of society. What’s most interesting, however, about this film, is that instead of taking the negative side of things and making Klaatu out to be an opposing force, he is very much portrayed as a bringer of change and of peace.

    He comes to try and teach society to learn to live with each other, accept each other and look beyond petty squabbles in order to save the entire world. Even this sentiment seems very much like a watered down (and prettied up) version of communism. If anything the director is trying to say that there is no reason to fear the unknown but rather to accept, and try to understand it. Don’t react with fear or aggression, but rather with general inquisition and peace.

    Klaatu is so like mankind, yet there is enough that makes him different to send a message to the audience. The genius “ending” adds to this message. Having him leave saying that it is up to us whether or not we can live together at peace and save our world and cutting to credits not only causes the audience to think, but also brings them directly into the story. We are the ending, it is up to us to learn from what he came to each mankind. It’s unlikely he would have the same relate-ability if he was a 9-legged ooze monster from Planet Nebulan. But that’s just my opinion :).

  7. I think Klaatu was represented in human form for two reasons. One of them being fairly obvious, and the other subtly connoting 1950s cold-war tensions in attempt to critique it. Obviously, a reason why he could have been represented as a human is because of cost constraints. Portraying him as a human is not so outrageous, and a certainly feasible element of the story.
    The more portrayal of him as a human is both to relate, and to identify with Klaatu. Being able to relate to this inter-galactic being, allows him, and the movie, to impose their critique of cold war tensions, to both characters within the movie, and moviegoers by offering a glimpse of the potential humans are capable of. Even though Klaatu closely resembles the people of Earth, at this time in society, his values and beliefs are almost completely foreign to the Westerners he encounters, such as through the inference of peace, or equality. Likewise, it seems as though the people, although able to connect to on an emotional level, still cannot totally understand Klaatu, as an inter-galactic being, or the ideology, and subsequent beliefs and values that he represents.

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