Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review Tuesday: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

An alien visits Earth with a grim warning.
After the sighting of a "flying saucer" at Roswell, New Mexico, the imagination of the United States had been overwhelmed with the concept of alien visitors. One of the most famous movies to come from that era was THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

A flying saucer was tracked as it entered our atmosphere and traveled around the planet over all of the superpowers at 4,000 miles per hour until it settle down and land in Washington, DC. The alien exited the craft with a giant menacing robot, stated he was there for peaceful purposes, then pulls some odd looking object and aims it at the military personnel on the scene. He he was shot for making such a provocative-seeming gesture. [In the real world a tank commander would not have taken that leap unless directly ordered to do so.] The alien was brought into custody to heal his wounds while the robot is left with the saucer. 

The alien was very human in appearance, so he escaped the clutches of the violent military to slip amongst the general populace so that he would witness human's basic violent and mistrusting nature first hand. In the end the alien makes his way back to his saucer to make an announcement that humans better learn to live peacefully or be destroyed. How kind, generous and benevolent of this alien race! They came to this violent planet and order us to be peaceful or we'll be destroyed! 

Like so many science fiction stories, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL was another cautionary tale. This one focused on the futility of building up of military power to force peace through fear. 

While I find such stories fun to watch unfold, and observe the world it reflected at the time, I felt more than a bit of annoyance with the message. The bungling Keystone-cops military who can't seem to get anything right and seem to be truly in control with the world. The writing was CLEARLY anti-military in a Cold War world. The liberal taint of anti-military feelings is stamped all over this movie. While this depicted a progressive feeling that was already evident in 1951, that sentiment would continue on for decades, even up through modern day despite how a strong president like Ronald Reagan forced the collapse of the Iron Curtain by beefing up our military. But why inject facts and truth into anything?

Despite the political undertones, this was a fun movie to finally sit down and watch. There's a reason why it's a classic.