Movie review of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”
American cinematography in the 50s operated on full power. Especially there were many films about aliens and terrifying nightmarish monsters. I expected something like before watching “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Fortunately, my expectations were not met.
This film is something special it's like a pearl, which emerged in the ocean of paranoia, of primitive fantasies and propaganda. All these characteristics, joined together, gave this film immense tenderness and care. Every decade has one or two iconic films that stand out from the crowd of movies released. “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is just one of them. The film, ahead of its era, still has not lost its relevance. Rather complicated for its time, but no less unique.
Its plot is of a little difference from science fiction films of those years – a spaceship in the middle of a workday arrives at Washington, it alone can cope with the whole army and is completely invulnerable. On the ship, there is only one passenger – captain Klaatu and his assistant – a robot. And there is only one requirement to people: gather a group of leaders to convey them important information. However, as usual, because of narrow thinking of militaries of those years an alien envoy encounters many obstacles on his way to conveying the message.
The film became a proper response of American society on a gradually accelerating Cold War. The main thesis of the picture – is the humanity ready to stop doing childish things and realize that gravity of a problem that is imposed on the mankind at large by the nuclear weapons? The answer, as we have seen from the movie, is “No”. Already developed bipolar world did not wish to listen to the reasonable request of an extraterrestrial civilization to stop nuclear escalation, though the visitor represented a wiser world that for a long time has passed that stage of development, at which are earthlings were.
It is not a coincidence that the only listeners of Klaatu were scientists, for whom, in principle, there are no borders in the world perception. And whose inquisitive mind and thirst for knowledge are able to overcome any obstacles. Robert Earl Wise, the director of the movie, didn`t have to emphasize on the destructive strength of atomic bombs through providing the viewers with sets of data, digits and statistics. This issue was in the air at that moment, and everyone in the US, young and old knew consequences of nuclear bombings of Japan in 1945 and repercussions of nuclear weapon testing in the remote deserts of Nevada. Instead of this, the director strives to conduct feelings of the main character – of the alien, grave concern of scientists and sincere emotions of Helen Benson, the main defender of the stranger. This makes the film surprisingly harmonious and beautiful, and, at the same moment, does not turn the main purpose of it into anti-militaristic propaganda. The relationships between the main characters are full of tenderness and friendship.
War and weapons have always been among the top priorities for a man. Over the time, they have been only improving and bringing more victims. The director wanted to show that there is always a space for negotiations, chance to stop a militarization and unjustified deaths. People only need to step over their selfishness and ambitions and, hopefully, there will not be a need in armaments any longer.
The Day the Earth Stood Still. Dir. Robert Earl Wise. Perf. Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal and Hugh Marlowe. 20th Century Fox, 1951. Film.