Friday, April 13, 2018

Classic Science Fiction Movies: The Day The Earth Stood Still

Flying Saucer + Giant Robot = GREAT

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Before Data, before R2D2, before Robbie we had Gort.

Putting this movie in context.

It is 1951. Think about 1951 for a little bit. World War II has been over for only six years. In just a few years you have seen the world going from fabric covered biplanes to a world of jet planes, rockets, and nuclear weapons. During World War II you saw cites in Europe bombed into rubble, the Nazi death camps, the rape of Nanking by the Japanese, the death toll of Iwa Jima and Okinawa, the dropping of nuclear weapons on Japan, and the living skeletons coming back from the Japanese POW camps. After World War II and you thought things were going to be great you live through the Berlin Blockade by the Soviet Union, the Reds have the bomb, the fall of China to the communists and you are in the middle of the Korean War. You have seen more death and destruction than just about any generation.  Heck if you are a kid you still have seen way too much death and destruction. People today are worried about a little global warming and these folks have seen millions die! What is so odd is they seemed to have more hope back then than we do now.

The Opening

A flying saucer lands in Washington DC and the Army surrounds it. Out of the flying saucer comes a man in a spacesuit. He pulls out a divice and an nervous soldier shoots him.

The Plot

An advanced civilization trys to make first contact with humanity. Just like Federation from Star Trek this civilization does not bother to make contact until a plant reaches a certian level of development. In this case it is the development of nuclear weapons and rockets.  The pilot of the flying sauser is named Klatu and after being shot and taken to a hospital informs the officials that he must meet with all the leaders of the Earth to give them an imporant message. He is told that is impossible. Klatu escapes the hospital and goes out to learn about humanity. He soon finds a child to be his guide.

My Thoughts

This is considered a class movie with good reason.  Today robots and aliens are common fair but in 1951 they where not common subjects of movies outside of serials like Flash Gordon aimed at kids.  It was all about being rational and honestly practical. In many ways it almost seems like a model for the Federation in the Star Trek universe but in many ways far more pragrmatic. The problem that movie address is that humans seem to be bound and determened to kill our selves with war. While Klatu's people did not want see humanity kill themselves but they really didn't see that it was their business to interfer. What they wanted even less was for us to go out into space and mucking up the galaxy. 

Just Say No!

I really was looking forward to a remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still then I read how they reimagined it. NO!!!!!! They made it a story not about war but about ecology. These aliens are going to kill us because we are trashing the planet which is just dumb!  Gee, they don't have the tech to produce power without putting too much carbon in the atmosphere. I know we could just give them the tech. Naw, let's just kill them all.  Really? While wars are often fought over resources it isn't always the case. Tech might not be a solution for war but it sure as shooting is for environmental problems and these guys have the answers but no they have to kill everyone. They could have kept the original story or reverted to the short story it was based on where the robot was the commander of the mission.  Skip the remake and see the original. 
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