Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)


This is one of those movies that I’d heard about since I was a kid. I read about it in books. I’ve seen the poster in a number of 50’s style diners. I’ve even heard portions of the iconic musical score. But being the sci-fi fan that I am, I’ve never seen the movie… until now.


The people of the earth are stunned when a flying saucer lands in Washington D.C. Out of it emerges a mysterious visitor Klaatu (Michael Rennie) and his robot Gort (Lock Martin). Because of some confusion, Klaatu is shot by a soldier and taken into custody. He reveals that he has a special message for the leaders of earth, and will only deliver it to them. When he is told that this is impossible, Klaatu escapes into the city. But his wandering is not pointless; Klaatu is on a mission, to gather information necessary to make a decision that will affect the whole planet. The whole world is about to learn a lesson “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

Good Points

  • An interesting examination of how earth would respond to an alien visitor
  • Bernard Herrmann’s score is a classic – love that Theremin
  • Michael Rennie makes Klaatu both alien and accessible

Bad Points

  • Some may find the visual effects too dated
  • Robert Wise’s direction may be to slow for some viewers
  • The movie’s message is not subtle at all


Yeah, this is a classic for a reason. Sure it’s a message movie with a sci-fi wrapper, but the message still makes sense today. In fact the reaction to Klaatu’s arrival will probably obtain the same result if it happened tomorrow. The cast is solid, and I found Robert Wise’s direction to actually be perfectly suited for the film. In fact watching this movie I realized how much it ended up influencing so many 50’s invasion movies that followed it. All the parts work well and make for a fun evening of Theremin filled entertainment.

Scores (out of 5)

Visuals: 4

Sound: 3

Music: 5

Acting: 4

Script: 4

Direction: 4

Entertainment: 4

Total: 4

Curious about a full review, send me an email and I'll make additional thoughts to this review.

1 comment:

  1. Every movie, like any work of art, needs to be judged in the context of its time. The best ones nonetheless are timeless. This sounds like a contradiction, but it is not. Perhaps it is analogous to a photon being a wave yet a particle.

    This is solid 1950s B-movie scifi. Cue the theremin!