Saturday, 23 October 2010

Film: The Day the Earth Stood Still,1951 , Robert Wise

This week and part of the narrative lecture, we were shown classic Sci-fi movie, which is often considered a B-Movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still. This film is a Sci-fi Classic and considered one of best sci-fi's of all times. It was directed by Robert Wise and starred actors such as Michael Rennie as the Alien Klaatu and  Patrica Neal as Helen Benson.

The plot of the film starts when a so tranquil American society is invaded by an UFO of an alien race, this happening calls the attention of people, television, army and even the president. While in many films, this invasion is a hostile one, in this one, the only alien invader, Klaatu, assumes a friendly approach, by not only assume an human appearance, but actually to help the human race to evolve in a better. However, the stubborn humans associate Klaatu with an hostile invader and defend against his harmless device. In the same UFO, is Gort, a Robot which is programmed to destroy the all earth if Klaatu fails to transmit his message to the world.
Taken to observation in an hospital, Klaatu asks the scientist in service to help him transmit this important message to the all leaders of the World, though the scientist helps him, it just proves impossible as they would never seat at the same table. Klaatu worried about not being able to inform the world  manages to escape and blend himself with humans, to find a better way to give the information.
Wandering around in the night, he finds a pension to stay for a few days until he can find a better plan, in there he meets Helen Benson, and her son Bobby.
Bobby being a fanatic about sci-fi, and assuming that Klaatu is a FBI agent, draws interest in knowing him better. From time onwards, both of them become good friends. One one hand, Bobby gets fascianted by all the stories Klaatu as to tell, on the other hand, Klaatu is rewarded by asking bobby to show him a bit of the human world.
Meanwhile, Klaatu asks Bobby if he know who is the most intelligent person on the planet, where the kid replies that he knows Professor Jacob Barnhardt, where his mother works.
in order to achieve his mission Klaatu reaches Prof. Jacob and presents him with the part of the situation, after he asks the prof. to gather the most intelligent people of the planet.
Despite, the so well- planned plan does not go the way they want, where Klaatu after long time hidden his found again by the army and shot dead in the middle of the street. However, Helen Benson helps him to get his mission back on track, when she meets the Gort and says some magical words.
The robot itself, saves the alien and helps him to complete his mission, where at the end of the film,  Klaatu explains it is good that the human race is evolving and knowing new means of combustion, but if by any chance, these same means are used to endanger the other races sharing the Universe with humans, he has order to annihilate the planet Earth.

This film is considered one of the best of Sci-fi films of all time, because everything about is just great.
Although, critics often question if this film belongs to a b-movie type of film, the finesse of the graphics and the quality of the script show otherwise.
The plot is so preciously written that everything seems to be in place to engage the audience until the end, it uses well-known term in cinema language, the macguffin, as it doesnt reveal Klatuu's message until the end of the film, which just makes audience engage in the rest of sub-plots easily.
In terms of set design, this factor is often seen in many b-movies where the cheap set designs speak for the pictures, however I do think the in The Day the Earth Stood Still is not outdated at all, although not very expensive sets, they are not also any cardboard models of buildings.
The sound of design, was mastered perfectly to fit the picture, the use of the theremin, to create a spooky yet sci-fi sound and atmosphere to the film, is something to absorb and use in my narrative project.
The acting was really convicing, I shall say that Michael Rennie's version of the Alien was much better Keanu Reeves one in the recent remake, And I shall say that if I ever taught of an alien with an human look it would definitely look similar to him.

Overall, a astonishing film, and really useful to understand the cinema language used insci-fi films, something to take in consideration to my narrative project.

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