Friday, 21 October 2011

Movie Review - The Day The Earth Stood Still

 Robert Wise has created this film to be B-Movie comical, adding all tricks such as the character Helen Benson falling into a pile of deck chairs, the first time she encounters Gort the robot. However there is also enough seriousness in the tone and theme of the film to be credited as a serious Science Fiction film. "Edward H North's intelligent script and Wise's smooth direction are serious without being solemn, while Bernard Herrmann's effectively alien-sounding score reinforces the atmosphere of strangeness and potential menace." (Time Out, 2006) The music does a lot of work to make the viewer believe the cast are in the presence of aliens as Klaatu is human - like in appearance so the decision was made to have the sound create the atmosphere and keep the tone to a science fiction genre. Wise's directing and staging of the characters also implies the seriousness of the situation and how humans would interact with violence to an alien presence they don't fully understand.

Figure 1, (2011), Klaatu and Bobby

Klaatu in the film tries to offer a peaceful solution to the way mankind behaves and doesn't want there violent  nature spreading to other planets. This theme and metaphor links to America and their policy to supposedly make life better in third world countries. "Klaatu's scheme is the template for how the U.S. government prefers to envision it's own interventions (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq). Wise's thoughtful tidiness turns the idea of extraterrestrial extermination into a high minded debate,..." (Croce, 2009) The film reflects some of the behaviour of what America has done and is doing today in third world countries of trying to govern their own   laws of the chaos of terrorists and dictators causing destruction that threatens to spread right across the world. Wise suggests this in his film as the human's primitive violence as a plague that threatens to spread across the universe because the 1950's was the time of atomic energy and space shuttle tests so Klaatu is acting to stop the tragedy before it starts.

Figure 2, (1999), Space ship Interior

One key aspect of the Science Fiction Genre is fear of advancement of technology, In Wise's film it is in the form of the robot Gort. "His giant mechanical assistant, which someone named Lock Martin animates, is also oddly unmenacing for all his grossness and his death-ray eye." (Crowther, 2003) Gort appears human - like in appearance to evoke the cheap budget costume that doesn't seem terrifying. The eye is the crucial part of Gort that creates the fear of an unknown being that could destroy the world and shatters the illusion of the human - like qualities on the surface. Wise decided on Gort shooting a bright laser beam to disintegrates anything in his path which helps the viewer identify that the aliens are much more advanced. The eye is also unnerving and captures a real sense of a robotic form trying to awkwardly look around it's environment. The interior of the ship is another indication with all the typical gadgetry the screams science fiction, the fact they are advanced in medicine and healing strengthens the theme that aliens are peaceful and not interested in war or domination.

Figure 3, (2011), Gort the robot

Illustration List

Figure 1, (2011), Klaatu and Bobby, @, Accessed on:  20th August 2011

Figure 2, (1999), Space ship Interior, @, Accessed on: November 1999


Croce, Fernando, (2009), Urban Cine File  - The Day the Earth stood still, @, Accessed on:  8th December 2009

Crowther, (2003), The New York Times – The Day The Earth stood still, @ , Accessed on: 20th May 2003

Time out, (2006), Time Out London - The Day The Earth Stood Still, @, Accessed on: 26th January 2006


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