The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

First of all, let's point out that this is not the Keanu Reeves shit-bag remake with a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. Alright, so now that's out of the way. Judging by the poster for this film, The Day the Earth Stood Still is about aliens coming to earth and fucking shit up. I was expecting sci-fi end-of the world battles. Just check out how aggressive it looks.

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Well, an alien and his robot do arrive at Earth, but he just wants to lean more about our society and share an important message with us. The bulk of the movie is Klaatu, the alien, exploring DC in an attempt to learn more about us and ultimately share his message with world leaders.

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What I liked most about it was its amount of diversity and pushing of social bounds for 1951. Yeah, the main character is a white man, as are all the government employees. But the supporting actress is a single mother and, unlike lots of these old movies, she doesn't talk about men the whole time. Instead, she's an important part of the story.

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Another important character is the scientist, Professor Jacob Barnhardt. After Klaatu realized earth's shitty politics will never allow him to get an audience with all the world leaders in one place, he seeks him our.

Up until recently, scientists have almost always been portrayed in movies as mad. Dr. Jekyll, Dr. Frankenstein, even Doc from Back to the Future. We've only recently started having noble scientists in movies, like Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar and Matt Damon in The Martian. But in The Day the Earth Stood Still, the scientist was basically just a version of Einstein—yeah, his hair was a little crazy. Be he was respectable and when Earth's leaders fail he's responsible for assembling a team of the world's best scientists to listen to the alien's message.

That's the professor on the left and Klaatu on the right.

That's the professor on the left and Klaatu on the right.

Not only that, but the team of scientists he assembles are pretty diverse.

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The climactic scene was Klaatu's message to the scientists. It's a message of peace. The alien planets have established a system in which peace is always kept, allowing them to work with one another and further their societies. He explains that Earth's aggression and fear of those who are different worries him. But he's going to take off and allow Earth continue to their thing. Should we learn to be peaceful, all will be well. But if we bring our violence into space, if we continue to develop atomic weapons for the wrong reason, it will be the end of us.

This whole movie felt very relevant right now.


You can listen to our discussion of Rope, The Third Man, and The Day the Earth Stood Still on: iTunesSoundCloud

More info: IMDb | Trailer | iTunes

This movie was recommended to me by François-Noél Vanasse who contributes to The Pork Chop Express, a movie review and analysis blog.