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The Day the Earth Stood Still

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General Information:
Year Released: 1951
Country: US
Director: Robert Wise
Literary Source: Harry Bates, Farewell to the Master

Live in peace, or be destroyed! This film's aliens are neither fools nor monsters, instead they are intelligent and interested in the preservation of life. Humans are made to look primitive and stupid in this film.

The Promise of Science: Alien Life

In The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951, US), Earth is visited by extraterrestrials, but is not attacked or immediately threatened. Instead, the benevolent visitors have come to warn humans about the problems with Earth's society, and the effects that Earth's actions have on the rest of the universe. Mankind is instructed to take responsibility for its actions -- and if it doesn't, other civilizations will intervene (WAV, 40k). A peaceful demonstration of the visitors' power is made to emphasize this point. This film looks towards contact with extraterrestrials as a way of forcing people and society to modify bad behavior, and it's not the only film to carry the message of "clean up or be destroyed."

Klaatu is carried aboard the space ship by Gort.

The Promise of Science: Robots

Gort patiently waits outside of the space ship for the return of Klaatu.

Robots as police are seen again in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Instead of being man-made or derivative of man, the robot in this film arrives on Earth as a peacekeeper from an alien civilization. It is not capable of being physically violent, even though the earthlings fear him and expect him to attack at any moment. He is strong, powerful and stands his ground, a protector rather than an aggressor. He is capable of renewing life, which we see when he revives his extraterrestrial companion from death. Even though he is peaceful, he has a menacing appearance that reminds us of his strength and his society's superiority.

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. erika . .
. last modified: Aug 14, 2000 .