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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Day the Earth Stood Still (Bilingual)
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Showing 1-10 of 28 reviews(4 star)show all reviews
on February 14, 2004
While its anti-war sentiments border on preachy, The Day the Earth Stood Still is, nonetheless, an excellent film and one of the first science fiction films designed for the thinking person.
Michael Rennie is well-cast in the role of Klaato, an alien who carries with him both a message of hope and a warning to the people of the Earth. The military, as usual, is portrayed in a somewhat unfavorable light (trigger-happy). Patricia Neal plays the mother of a boy that Klaato befriends.
I think one of the reasons this movie works so well is the stark black and white photography employed by Robert Wise (who went on to direct Andromeda Strain, among other films). The special effects are very good for the period, although Gort looks, and at times, moves, like an early version of the Michelin Man, or even Barney. The soundtrack is effectively eerie--and most certainly identified with the genre.
Overall, the movie is deservedly a classic. Although it has its faults, it most assuredly is a standard bearer amongst science fiction fans.
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on January 22, 2004
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is a nifty little science fiction film from 1951, low-budget and starkly designed, that I'm sure was not meant to be anything major when released, but has since become to be considered one of the greatest of its genre.
Directed with a spare, documentary-like style by Robert Wise (who would go on to direct such major motion pictures as "The Sound of Music" and "West Side Story"), the film tells the story of a lone visitor (with his robot Gort) to Earth, who comes to warn the inhabitants of this planet against the irresponsible use of atomic power. This movie should be required viewing today, especially by members of our own government, as U.S. policy seems to be shifting ever more toward doing whatever the hell we want and the effects of our actions on world relations be damned. Sadly, the earthlings in the film behave all too predictably (and realistically), instantly assuming the visitors have come to inflict harm and dealing with the situation through excessive military force. Sound familiar?
It's a quick 90-minute film that smartly keeps its plot basic; it knows not to overstretch its modest bounds. Michael Rennie is appropriately otherworldly as Klaatu, the humanoid alien, and Patricia Neal appears in an early role as one of the only level-headed people in Washington D.C.
A terrific and thoughtful movie.
Trivia: Patricia Neal's character is instructed late in the film to say the words "Klaatu, Barada, Nikto" to Gort to prevent him from going on a destructive rampage. George Lucas borrowed these three words and gave them as names to three of Jabba the Hutt's henchman in "Return of the Jedi." A case of one sci-fi film offering homage to another.
Grade: A-
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on July 15, 2003
Two conditions are necessary if you want to see this film: 1) You have to be a sci-fi fan, or at least have an open mind to the genre. 2) You certainly cannot be one of those people who mock at dated special effects. If you meet these two requirements, then you certainly can enjoy "The Day the Earth stood still", one of the capital films made during the Cold War paranoia.
If you're reading this, then you must be a fan already. But just in case you never heard about it before, this is one of those genre pieces everyone knows, even if they've never seen it. It's about an alien visitor who comes to Washington DC in the early 1950's. He brings a message of peace and a warning to the human world, but he gets shot right away when he sets foot off his ship. After escaping the hospital, the alien (Klatuu), who looks exactly like a human, must pass himself as a citizen and stop his robot, Gort, from destroying the Earth in retaliation. In a time of paranoia, tense conflicts and stubborn world leaders (what else is new?), the message that Klatuu brings is, however, difficult to swallow: the only answer to mankind's rule of violence is totalitarism.
The debate about the message continues even today. It doesn't matter if you agree or not, it is as powerful today as it was during the Cold War. Unlike the giant insects movies of the 40's or the silly space serials, "The Day..." tried to make a serious statment using sci-fi form. It certainly suceeded, because the movie became a cult classic right away, and the robot Gort was to be one the most recognizable movie icons of all time. The special effects look silly today, but an intelligent script knows how to extract the juice out of the story and avoid the campy elements (mainly because there is very little action).
Now, Fox surely took a sweet time into releasing the film on DVD, but the edition is well worth the wait. The transfer is nearly spotless, both in video quality and sound. Apart from the special editions of "Psycho" and "Night of the Living Dead", I don't think I've ever seen a B&W restoration this good. I would like to know, however, why it's not in Widescreen format. Maybe somebody else can answer that for me. And the extras surely are great. The disc includes an audio commentary by director Robert Wise, as well a 1 hour documentary about the film and the cult that followed. This documentary includes interviews with the director and producer, among others (and what the heck is Joe Dante doing there anyway?). There's also tons of picture images, including the original posters. One more thing: among the trailers featured on the B-side there was the one from "5 million years BC" (you know, the cavemen movie starring Raquel Welch). Does that mean they're going to release that little jewel on DVD as well? I can't wait!
So, to end this extremely long review, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is getting the DVD edition it deserves. It even has Spanish subtitles. Let's hope other cult classics are as lucky as this one.
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on March 17, 2003
Fox has rereleased this classic mixture of drama and science fiction as part of its Studio Classics DVD collection. The DVD contains a restored and remastered version of the film that's out of this world. Extra features are interesting, but a bit dated -- they debuted on laserdisc in the mid-'90s.
"The Day the Earth Stood Still's" silvery black-and-white images benefit greatly from the film's latest restoration, as demonstrated on one of the extras. The superimposed images of the actors in Washington blend in much better in the fine grain than on the laserdisc version. Night shots are breathtaking. The film is presented full frame (1.33:1).
The restoration gives Bernard Herrmann's brilliant score extra punch, even in simple stereo, with the din of the spaceship's landing pounding out of the subwoofer. Herrmann employed a pair of electronic Theramins to crank up the eerie mood.
Wise does a good job on the commentary, which touches on the edgy political climate back in 1950, camera techniques and working with the great Herrmann. A 70-minute documentary features interviews with Wise, producer Julian Blaustein, actress Patricia Neal and Billy Gray, the former child actor. Gray, in particular, has a great perspective on the film. Other extras include the shooting script, a terrific newsreel from 1951 and extensive still galleries.
Wise talks about how well the film has held up for contemporary viewers, and he's right. My 10 yr. old who loves "Alien" and the like watched this film with rapt attention. "Don't tell me this is anything but way cool," he said.
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on March 17, 2003
"The Day The Earth Stood Still" is a fable for adults, the moral of the story being that mankind is doomed to self destruct unless he mends his ways and chooses peace over war. The film stars Michael Rennie as the human/alien space traveller and Patricia Neal as the earthling who learns his secret. Robert Wise has directed, perhaps, the best sci-fi movie of the decade, with adept concision and wit. This is a classic that still holds its own.
The DVD transfer from FOX is near pristine. Although it is self evident from the main title sequence onward that major restoration work has been done on the film, there is still a considerable amount of video noise present in background information, particularly in the opening scenes where the space ship lands in Washington. Also in this sequence, are nicks, chips and scratches inherent in the original camera negative. Some minor shimmering details are detected but nothing that will terribly distract. The stunning "film noir-ish" photography is, for the most part, beautifully rendered on this DVD. The soundtrack has been remixed to 5.1 and is worthy of mention here.
Extras include a "making-of" documentary that was part of the original laserdisc release some time ago and a restoration comparison that illustrates the extent of work that has been done on this DVD transfer. OVERALL: A very worthwhile disc to add to one's collection.
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on March 12, 2003
I have been a fan of "The Day The Earth Stood Still" for several years. When I first saw it, I was impressed that there was a 50's Sci-Fi that was thoughtful of current events.
It also seemed to set the standard for Sci-Fi for the next 17 years.
But recently I have given it more consideration. Although the film quickly criticizes American and former Soviet Union cold war politics, it totally ignores the politics of Klatuu's society. For example, what type of government does Klatuu's people have? What would it be like to have Giant robots roaming earth waiting to "neutralize" an aggressor? Is that democracy? Socialism? No. That's not even Fascism. It's almost like this film found a way to make us believe that a "Big Brother" society would achieve world peace. After having read George Orwell's "1984", how could we come to this conclusion.
Think of it this way. A husband and wife are having an argument. The husband hits his wife. Would Gort burst through the wall and zap the husband? Would the wife say "Thanks, Gort. I don't think the anger management classes would have worked anyway. Besides, as soon as hit me, I instantly stopped loving him." If we really consider having Robot Policemen in our society we realize that it wouldn't work. Therefore, if it wouldn't work, who is Klatuu to tell us how to run our society?
Ask yourself this: Who would carry out the destruction of earth? If Klatuu destroyed earth, would Gort "neutralize" him? Would some other robot "neutralize" Gort? I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. Klatuu criticizes the very politics that he is using.
Klatuu's hypocritical culture is loosely based off of ours. For example, people find it okay to murder a doctor that performs abortions. There is truth in this movie, but not that Klatuu's culture is superior to our own. The truth is: we fear a culture that is superior in strength. Just like we fear God. But God is guilty of the same crimes as us.
In conclusion, Klatuu's robot police would defiantly end war. But that wouldn't end violence. It would just be somebody else committing the violence.
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on March 8, 2003
The music that accompanies this picture is definitely THE definitive spooky sci-fi music. Patricia Neal was a classic beauty and emminently believeable in this role. The kid who plays her son showed up later as "Bud" in Father Knows Best. Now the bad part: the speechifying Rennie does at the end is a turn-off for people who are politically aware and conservative. Rennie basically advocates turning Earth's sovereignty over to a galactic United Nations, including the threat of complete annihilation if we don't "obey" and "stay within the guidelines" and "play nice with each other". Given the UN's recent performance as an effete and impotent debating society that accomplishes nothing this would seem to be bad advice. I cannot watch the movie anymore without that last soliloquy souring the overall great effect. I know, get over it. Gort is definitely cool, though. Only understands Latin, understated malevolence, the threat of violence to keep you in line, the original Robocop. A UN with actual teeth, a backbone, and true impartiality, unlike anything we have now. Maybe it would work? These are scary times, but it was just as scary back then - it was 1951, we just got out of a war 6 years ago, now we're in Korea providing the men, muscle, and blood for a UN-sanctioned "police action" against an insane Communist dictator running a bellicose North Korea and backed up by China, plus we've just realized we're in a nuclear stare-down with the Soviets. The movie's an interesting look at how all this was spilling over into the culture's entertainment.
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on March 7, 2003
I have waited years for this movie to come out on DVD. I ordered it the minute it was announced. It arrived yesterday and I immediately sat down to watch it, eager to see the restoration. I was incredibly pleased until the scene where Gort picks up Patricia Neal to take her into the spaceship. Suddenly, lines appeared on the print, looking almost like strings attached to Patricia Neal because the robot could not hoist or carry her. It looked like all those cheesy sci-fi films where you can see the strings attached to the flying saucers! I cannot believe the company could release this important film with this important scene in such shoddy condition. What print did they use for the scene? I checked an old video which I had taped off of television and the lines were nowhere to be seen in it. If a crummy tv print is better than a restoration, then the company wasted its time and my money. And there was a noticeable difference in stock quality in a close up of Patricia Neal in the same sequence. It looked as if a third rate print had suddenly been used for this close-up.
It took so long for this film to come out, why couldn't they have taken greater care to make a supposedly pristine print, pristine? I am really disappointed.
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on March 7, 2003
I have waited years for this movie to come out on DVD. I ordered it the minute it was announced. It arrived yesterday and I immediately sat down to watch it, eager to see the restoration. I was incredibly pleased until the scene where Gort picks up Patricia Neal to take her into the spaceship. Suddenly, lines appeared on the print, looking almost like strings attached to Patricia Neal because the robot could not hoist or carry her. It looked like all those cheesy sci-fi films where you can see the strings attached to the flying saucers! I cannot believe the company could release this important film with this important scene in such shoddy condition. What print did they use for the scene? I checked an old video which I had taped off of television and the lines were nowhere to be seen in it. If a crummy tv print is better than a restoration, then the company wasted its time and my money. And there was a noticeable difference in stock quality in a close up of Patricia Neal in the same sequence. It looked as if a third rate print had suddenly been used for this close-up.
It took so long for this film to come out, why couldn't they have taken greater care to make a supposedly pristine print, pristine? I am really disappointed.
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This is one of the best and most intelligent Science-Fiction films of all time. At the time it was made, Cold War paranoia was rampant and the threat of 'the bomb' was more and more becoming a reality. And that is where this film came along, it was made at a time when films 'tried to make a difference' and burried beneath the metallic exterior of 'The Day The Earth...' is a message, a message of peace, but put into sci-fi context; aliens come to earth and warn 'Peace, or else...'. When you take a look at all the pre-70's sci-fi films 'The Day...' stands out like a sore thumb, it is one of the few that have stood the test of time and that continue to captivate people of all ages. But the success of the film not only lies in the material it also features an excellent cast. Michael Rennie is perfect for the part, he has a coldness and a sense of absence of feeling that fits perfectly. Robert Wise also directed with great assurance, adding timeless elements, such as Gort the eight-foot indestructible robot and the important message that Patricia Neal is give to save the earth from destruction; Klatu...Barada...Nikto, those words linger in your mind long afterwards. The metallic electronic score also adds to the effect. From a scale of 1-10 I give this film an 8!
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