Quick recap: An alien lands his ship in the middle of Washington DC to declare that his planet is SO done with your shit, Earth. Get it together, you guys.
Fun (?) fact: According to IMDb, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a Christian allegory. It makes sense when you think about it: man comes to Earth preaching peace, gets wounded, resurrects, has super cool killing robot. It all fits! Even the name Klaatu adopts, Carpenter, has religious connotations. Director Robert Wise hadn’t considered any of this which makes me wonder if it is possible to do an accidental allegory.
My thoughts: I’m not a fan of Sci-fi generally, but I make an exception when watching movies from the 1950s. I love how there’s a fine line between a movie becoming a classic, like this one, or fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000. I see why it is such an important film and yet, it’s almost impossible for me not to imagine Tom Servo, Mike and Crooooooow sitting at the bottom of my screen, taking turns with their witty one-liners. It is both a blessing and a curse to live life like this, let me tell you.
Overall, I generally enjoyed the movie. The special effects were impressive and also a little bit cheesy. Gort was my favorite part of the film because his two roles were either KILLING ALL HUMANKIND or cradling Klaatu like a baby in his arms. I think we would be more likely to embrace our robot overlords if they also had a cradling function like Gort did.
As much as I enjoy a good symbolic film, I felt like parts of The Day the Earth Stood Still were a bit heavy handed. Peace for all mankind? I can dig it, but not when you go all preachy on me. Klaatu annoyed me from the very beginning, when he was shot and retorted that he was just giving us a tool to study life on other planets, but we ruined it and this is why we can’t have nice things. He then allows the military to take him to Walter Reed hospital but doesn’t really even need doctors because he has his own fancy salve. I also appreciated the irony that Klaatu refused to speak to the President of the United States about his mission because he wanted to talk to all nations at once so as not to take sides. And yet, he has landed his ship in the middle of Washington DC! We all know we are your favorite, buddy, don’t deny it.
At the end of the film, Klaatu basically says that the only thing that keeps his planet from fighting are these death robots, like Gort. It’s almost like some sort of war…..but no fighting, so it’s cold. It’s like a cold war. Get it? It’s not a bad idea, to have a self-destruct button built into your own planet, but we kind of did that with the nuclear bomb and that didn’t get us very far.
Final review: 4/5, but I’m being generous, I think. I didn’t love it as much as I expected to, but I can certainly appreciate a classic when I see one.
Up next: Blue Velvet