32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
A Sci-Fi Masterclass.,
This review is from: The Day The Earth Stood Still (Steelbook) (2 Disc Cinema Reserve Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)Few films are as iconic as this one - this became the template for sci-fi films...
This film will be 60 years old in just a few years time, and watching it now, you can't help but think that the central message has been conveniently ignored. This film was released only 5 years after the Second World War and the ironic ultimatum of peace or obliteration doesn't look like it's been heeded.
Klaatu the humanoid alien lands in Washington and emerges from his flying saucer in one of cinemas greatest moments. The message of peace seems seems even more relevant the moment you flinch as the nervous soldier shoots our inter-planetary neighbour. Already, you feel the shame of humanity - and just to make us feel even smaller (quite literally!) Gort the eight-foot robot appears and zaps away all the military's weapons without actually hurting anyone.
Michael Rennie is perfectly cast as Klaatu, he is a good looking fella, but with something odd about him. He has an extra-terrestrial air about him, and much of his acting is done through subtle smiles which hints at his superior knowledge, he seems to find some of what he experiences here to be either quaint, or plain silly. He manages to bring charisma in buckets to a role which would have ended up too wooden by many other actors.
Patricia Neal puts in a convincing performance as Helen. Helen isn't your average 50's sci-fi lead lady - she isn't relegated to 'screamer'. Yes, she does have a few moments of over-acting, but that's the charm of the era/genre - and her portrayal is on the whole quite natural. Kudos to Billy Gray, the young lad who befriends Klaatu and enjoys his tales of advanced technology.
The film hasn't dated that badly - you don't cringe at the special effects because they're actually very good, the spaceship is the best I've seen! A smooth metallic structure with no discernable joins, the door opens and the ramp appears from the base in perfect synchronisation. Gort is now a legendary figure in sci-fi history - okay, his suit looks a bit rubber at the end when you see it bending as he walks - but that could be down to the unique metal he is made from, it could flex. Well, it could!
The film focuses on the role of the media in a media-obsessed post-war America. This is another parallel with the modern day, we are media-saturated, but now instead of radio and newspapers - we rely on television and the internet. When the world experiences the 30 minute powercut it brings pandemonium and panic, the world today would be brought to it's knees.
There is a remake planned for this soon, with Keanu Reeves as Klaatu. I'll watch it - to see how bad it is. This is a film perfectly casted, and superbly directed. In short - it does not need remaking. It's unfortunate that many filmgoers refuse to watch an old black and white film, but would rather watch a CGI laden slick flick. This film was made with a genuine passion for the final message, being released so soon after a world war the fear and hope was genuine. The remake is made with a passion for generating revenue; you chose which will stand the test of time.
In a nutshell: Everything from the electronic music, the flying saucer, the robot Gort, the scientist complete with mad-scientist hair, and the special effects have been emulated by many other films since. This is an important film, it gets you to think - the final message isn't one to embrace, it's one to consider. The society as explained by Klaatu of his own planet doesn't seem appealing (zero tolerant nazi-robots who enforce the law in order to force social order), but then, neither does the one we have now. With wars and genocide, if we continue to behave like that off our own planet then we will be destroyed. From the point of view of an alien, our wars do seem petty and childish - maybe we need that perspective to realise that we are in charge of our own destiny. Maybe it will take the discovery of intelligent alien life to view ourselves as a single human race.
"The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all, or no one is secure."
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Mar 2011 10:33:56 GMT
You've hit the proverbial nail squarely on the head! Well done! Your review is absolutely first class, taking into account absolutely everything one needs to make a decision about this film! I have been a fan of the film for ages and was going to write a review, but you've eclipsed anything I could say! Well done and sincere thanks!! Excellent! You are obviously an intelligent thinker and it is impressive to see the film has not been wasted on you!
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Mar 2011 15:46:48 GMT
G. Dudley - thanks for the kind comments! You made my day. ;-)
In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2012 12:23:41 BDT
Good review, thanks. Only film I can sit and watch time and again. Michael Rennie was a wonderful actor. Too good for Hollywood. The remake should have been drowned at birth. Least said about that horrid little boy the better.
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