Critical reviews of a recent Sci-fi film:
A science fiction film (Sci-fi) is a movie that encompasses an extreme sense of science and imaginary picture design. At most, they use advanced technology For Example devices, robots, and spacecraft assumed to grace the world in the future. A number of Science fiction films tend to travel in the future, outer space or introduce supernatural beings from other planets. This paper will review the movie ‘the day the earth stood still’ comparing it with the ‘Invasion of the body snatcher’ of 1956 as a Sci-fi film. In addition, the paper intends to connect and explain the themes and the iconographies used by the director in the movie.
Directed by Scott Derrickson, ‘the day the earth stood still’ is a science fiction film (Sci-fi) created in the 2008. The setting of the film is the present year of its creation. For the mere fact that it encompasses elements of terror and extreme science in it, the movie genre can be described as a science fiction film (Sci-fi)/horror film (O’Connor and Jackson 204). The reason for the genre type is that the film brings in the concept of aliens invading the planet and inhabiting and replicate the human body (O’Connor and Jackson 207). The film is about a giant round spaceship landing on earth, the passenger on board (Klaatu Barada Nikto) steps out and gets shot (Ebert par 1). However, the storyline is an exploration of an imaginary extension of the war and chaos in the world. ‘The day the earth stood still’ starts with a man camping in a non-disclosed location. The individual (Keanu Reeves), gets distracted by movements and unfamiliar lights outside. He walks out and over the mountain; he sees more light that he decides to follow. The man climbs the mountain and on arrival at the scene of the light and touching the source of it; he collapses. A few seconds later, he wakes up, checks around, but sees nothing, although he notices something on this hand. The same man is then introduced back into the movie as a man from the spaceship ‘Klaatu’ (Ebert par 1). The film brings the question ‘what if’ to the views, thereby provoking speculations in the existence of the aliens with such power as the metal man ‘Gort’ (Sci-fi slide 15).
The film uses the theme of crafts from outer space (spaceship and aliens) that take control of the human mind and body who later threatens the existence of humanity using Gort (Sci-fi slide 16). With the director, empowering the metal man with extreme intelligence higher than that of the human mind, the film out rightly depicts aliens as a threat to human beings (Ebert par 1). On the same point, the aliens have the power to shut electricity using their eyes (O’Connor and Jackson 206).
The director uses another typology when he introduces the spherical spaceships all over the world. (Ebert par 3). At this point, the director shows that the world is expandable and that the aliens were to take over because humans are destroying the only planet that can sustain life.
‘The day the earth stood still’ is a continuation of the 50s motif of the paranoid tradition. The original film was produced in 1551, however; the 2008 movie depicts the paranoia in the decade of its production. The movie takes a symbolic shape, which was the collective paranoia that was pertaining to the issues of war and the chaos in the world (Ebert par 1). In the film, the secretary of the state while explaining why Klaatu needs to be interrogated said, “history has lessons the last civilization is us.” he finds the residents of his town in “mass hysteria.” According to O’Connor and Jackson, the residents of Santa Mara find themselves obsessing that their relatives, friends, and family members are not who they claim to be (205). O’Connor and Jackson in his book say, “Despite the outward calm of Santa Mira, there is a creeping contagion of fear and paranoia of wives not knowing their husbands ” (O’Connor and Jackson 205).
The fact that the residents were obsessing about other people claiming they are different showed a sigh or paranoids in the film. Evidently, paranoia in the day the earth stood still is shown when everyone talks of the world is ending with no one having a solution. According to O’Connor and Jackson, in the 50s individuals felt like they were prisoners of their land, they did not have options and their choices about issues were limited (213). The film presents the paranoia feeling when; Dr. Benson had to beg Klaatu to give humans time to change their ways. Paranoia continues shown by O’Connor and Jackson when they talk of the motif of the 50s being conformity, alienation, and paranoia. In the film, the world has no one to turn to save it a role clearly left to Dr. Benson (Ebert par 5). The film uses darkness to increase the feeling of fear to the viewers. Individuals always associate darkness to threat and light to protect. The director uses the spheres together with Gort to capture the attention of the viewers and creates paranoia to them.
Writing and directing of Films or movies arise from ideologies either real or fictional. These ideologies come from different concepts relating from normal daily happenings or just the mind trying to ask and answer “A what if” situation or aspect. The daily happening ideologies in films are shaped by the myths, concepts, images, or historical, political, social, or cultural events.
‘The day the earth stood still’ is no different from other movies for it plays in the present depicting the political and cultural situation (Ebert par 2). The film creates the cultural picture of the world by using symbolism, consciously imitating myths, beliefs, and uses the social-political situation at the time of its release. Therefore, the film deals with a subject that is identifiable to the 50s and the present. During this period, the U.S led by President Bush had the military in the Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, there was global warming that created social and cultural unrest all around the world. Therefore, it would be correct to state that the movie deals with these issues. However, ‘The day the earth stood still’ takes a different turn and deals with a fictional concept that mirrored the society’s fears and problems (O’Connor and Jackson 205).
At the time of the movie production, there was an election in America, and the race was between Al Gore and George Bush. Just like when the invasion of the body snatchers, the events of the film mirror the cultural and political atmosphere in the 50s the day the earth stood still mirrors the events of 2001-2010. For example, when the pods in the movie discover that Miles and Becky are purely human, the “people” of the Santa Mira decide to catch them. “In The day the earth stood still,” Klaatu says tells Dr. Benson that earth cannot survive with humans in it and if the people die the earth can survive.
During that time, conformity, paranoia, and alienation dominated the 50s just as war and global warming dominated the late 90 and early 2000. The world needed peace, and something had to be done to curb the effects of global warming. In the movie, compliancy displays itself when the Klaatu the “human” sees everything as dispassionately and acts without emotions (Ebert par 6). During the decade, there were too much-dismissed fears of climatic change and its repercussions. In the 50s, communism meant that people were not to think as individuals rather they were to think as a group. Dr. Benson takes Klaatu to meet a friend who tries to negotiate on behalf of the world. The film shows that there is not time to waste and that stopping the aliens was the most important thing, but no one understands that better than Dr. Benson does. Mirroring that to the political atmosphere in that decade, one would say that the saving the U.S from going into war meant electing Al Gore to the presidency and stopping global warming. Klaatu in the end says in the end, “Your professor was right. At the precipice, we change.” Meaning the world can change if only humans get a solution to the problem. Caldwell says that the original version of the day the earth stood still engaged with the political issues of that era back in the 50s. He goes on to say, “It is by no means as good as the original but by taking the central premise of the original and maintaining its core ideology in order to address contemporary issues, this remake ”. (Caldwell par 1). Bradshaw sees things differently by saying, “The lack of obvious political subtext makes Derrickson’s film look like it’s lowering the highbrow tone that Wise did so well to raise out of the genre’s pulpy roots” (par 7).
Bradshaw, Paul. Is It Just me? Or Is The Day The Earth Stood Still Remake Equal To The Original? Gamesradar.com. 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2014.
Caldwell, Thomas. Film Review - The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008). 2008. Web. 22 Nov. 2014.
Ebert, Roger. The Day the Earth Stood Still Movie Review Roger Ebert'. Rogerebert.com. 2008. Web. 22 Nov. 2014.
O'Connor, John E, and Martin A Jackson. American History/American Film. New York, NY: Ungar, 1979. Print.
Science fiction 1: class notes.