“The Day the Earth Stood Still” is a science fiction film of 1951 directed by Robert Wise. The film is considered a classic of the genre and has had a lasting impact on popular culture.
The plot of the film revolves around a alien named Klaatu (played by Michael Rennie) who comes to Earth with a message of peace for humanity. However, when he is wounded by a soldier, he is taken to a hospital and then arrested by the US government. Klaatu tries to speak at the United Nations to deliver his message, but is hindered by human hostility and distrust.
The film is known for its strong criticism of militarism and warfare, as well as its positive portrayal of aliens. Rennie’s performance was highly praised, as were the film’s special effects, which were state-of-the-art for the time.
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” was a huge commercial success upon its release and has continued to have a passionate following over the years. The film was also the subject of a remake in 2008, but the original film is still considered a classic of the genre.
The plot of the film “The Day the Earth Stood Still” revolves around Klaatu, an alien who lands on Earth with a message of peace for mankind. Klaatu arrives in Washington DC with his robot Gort and is immediately shot by a soldier when he tries to deliver a peaceful message to the president of the United States. Klaatu is then taken to a military hospital, where Dr. Helen Benson (played by Patricia Neal) discovers the patient is actually an alien.
Klaatu reveals his purpose on Earth to Helen: he wants to speak at the United Nations to urge them to stop the nuclear arms race and work for peace. However, Klaatu is thwarted by the United States government, who fear his message could be a pretext for hostile action. Meanwhile, Gort becomes a threat to humanity, destroying the weapons the men seek to use against Klaatu.
Klaatu eventually manages to escape from the hospital and speak at the United Nations, but his message is ignored and he is deemed a threat to national security. Klaatu then decides to prove his might by ordering Gort to destroy all electrical devices in the world for a short period of time. Klaatu reveals that this demonstration is only a small part of their strength, and that if humans continue to pursue war and destruction, there will be dire consequences for all of Earth.
Eventually, humanity decides to listen to Klaatu’s message, and he leaves Earth with the promise to return if humans once again pose a threat to the rest of the universe. The story ends with Helen and her son watching Klaatu and Gort board their space shuttle and depart into the universe.
Here are the main characters of the film “The Day the Earth Stood Still”:
Klaatu: The alien who comes to Earth with a message of peace for humanity. Klaatu is played by Michael Rennie and is the protagonist of the film.
Helen Benson: A female doctor working at a military hospital who discovers Klaatu’s identity. Helen is played by Patricia Neal and is one of the few people who believes in Klaatu’s peaceful mission.
Gort: Klaatu’s robot, who is tasked with protecting Klaatu and his space shuttle. Gort is played by Lock Martin and is one of the most iconic characters in the film.
Tom Stevens: An agent of the United States government who is assigned to investigate Klaatu’s presence on Earth. Tom is played by Hugh Marlowe and is one of the main antagonists of the film.
Bobby Benson: Helen’s son, an inquisitive and intelligent child who develops a strong friendship with Klaatu. Bobby is played by Billy Gray.
The President of the United States: A character not seen in the film, but who plays an important role in the plot. The president is portrayed as a leader concerned about national security and disinclined to listen to Klaatu’s message.
The film “The Day the Earth Stood Still” was produced by 20th Century Fox and was directed by Robert Wise. The screenplay was written by Edmund H. North, who was inspired by the short story “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates.
The film was shot primarily at 20th Century Fox studios in Hollywood, with some scenes filmed in Washington D.C. and near Mono Lake, California.
The production of the film was characterized by some difficulties, among which the fact that the film was shot during the Cold War and that the climate of fear and tension between the United States and the Soviet Union influenced the plot of the film.
Nonetheless, the film was a major box office success, grossing more than $1.2 million upon its US debut, and receiving positive reviews from critics. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” was one of the first science fiction films to present a pacifist message and a positive view of aliens, and it had a lasting impact on popular culture. The film is considered a classic of the genre and has been the subject of several remakes and adaptations over the years.
Distribution and Reception
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” was released in theaters across the United States on September 28, 1951. The film was a huge hit with audiences, grossing more than $1.2 million on its debut, making it one of the biggest hits of 1951.
Critics welcomed the film, appreciating its original plot and pacifist message. “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is “a 20th century science fiction classic, with a pacifist message that still remains relevant today”.
The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, but the award was won by “An American in Paris”. However, the film had a great impact on popular culture and became a classic of the sci-fi genre.
In the following years, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” has been the subject of several remakes and adaptations, including a 2008 remake directed by Scott Derrickson with Keanu Reeves in the role of Klaatu. Nonetheless, the original 1951 film remains one of the most important and influential science fiction films cinema history.
The style of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is typical of 1950s science fiction films, with a strong emphasis on moralistic and political messages. The film presents a utopian vision of the future and the world, where aliens are seen as bringers of peace and progress.
Directed by Robert Wise is characterized by a slow and methodical pace, which allows the viewer to appreciate the atmosphere and emotions of the characters. The cinematography of the film, curated by Leo Tover, is characterized by a dark and cold tone, which underlines the atmosphere of tension and danger.
The film also uses numerous special effects, including the representation of Klaatu’s space shuttle and the robot Gort, which were made with stop-motion animation techniques. The film’s special effects were considered highly advanced for its time and helped make “The Day the Earth Stood Still” one of the most innovative and influential science fiction films in the history of cinema.
In general, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” represents one of the best examples of science fiction films of the 50s, with an intelligent plot, well-developed characters and a strong moral message that is still relevant today.
The director of ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’, Robert Wise, was one of the most important and influential American filmmakers of the 20th century. Born in 1914, Wise began his career as an editor, working on such films as Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane and William Wyler’s Roman Holiday.
In the 1950s, Wise began directing his own films, including “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1956) and “West Side Story” (1961), for which he won two Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture.
Wise continued to direct successful films in the 1960s and 1970s, including “The Sound of Music” (1965), “Rabbit Hill” (1975), and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979). Throughout his career, Wise has won four Academy Awards and directed some of the most important and influential films in the history of cinema.
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” is one of the most important films of Wise’s career, and helped solidify his reputation as one of the most innovative and creative directors of his time. His ability to direct films of different genres, from science fiction to musicals, has demonstrated his versatility and talent as a director.