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The lost movie of the week: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Science-fiction can have great influences on people. Jules Verne, Back to the Future, Star Trek etc have influenced generations of people and scientists. Great Science-fiction tries to be a motor of change, projects the fear and explain the repercussions of the actions of mankind.

An alien (Klaatu) with his mighty robot (Gort) land their spacecraft on Cold War-era Earth just after the end of World War II. They bring an important message to the planet that Klaatu wishes to tell to representatives of all nations. However, communication turns out to be difficult, so, after learning something about the natives, Klaatu decides on an alternative approach.

Robert Wise (“The Sound of Music”, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, “West Side Story”)  is a very versatile director who directed some of the greatest films (winning four Oscars in the process). “The Day the Earth Stood Still“ was an incredible eye-opener for many at the time and is considered as one of the greatest science fiction film of all time that influenced generations of filmmakers.  The film main goal is to look at mankind through the eyes of an outsider, a perfect rational being and see all the calamities we bring on to each other and the world. The story is told with a prophetic voice.  It is a very human story at heart despite the fact that the ending is quiet controversial.

The film has a very ethical message brought by an enlightened-alien. The film was perceived as a critique of Cold-War paranoia of the time.

The film is based on the short story: “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates. In 2008 a remake was released which received a much harsher reception.

The producer Julian Blaustein, said in a New York Times piece that his goal was to support a strong United Nations (which had just been created in 1945).

The film received a Golden Globe for “Best Film Promoting International Understanding” a curious award that doesn’t exist anymore. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.

In 1995, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”[

Stanley Berenboom

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