The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Genre: Drama, Science, Fiction
Starring: Patricia Neal
This is one of my favorite movies of all time and it happens to be one awesome science fiction film. The film has a simple premise, but limitless possibilities within the ideas it presents. It’s about this alien named Klaatu who comes to Earth and tells people they need to find a way to work together in peace for the sake of the survival of the human race. (Of course there is more to it, but watch the movie and find out the rest)
Given that this movie comes out less than a decade after the end of World War 2 and at the beginning of the nuclear age and the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, it is a brilliant idea to promote. I love science fiction that takes a real world problem and proposes an idea to fix it. Granted, they didn’t detail the plans for peace, but the idea is important, especially in the tumultuous years of its release (Those ideas are still valuable is today). This movie has so much to like, but I wouldn’t say it has a lot of household names. If you know movies and I say the name Spencer Tracy, you know who I mean.
I loved the character played by Patricia Neal as Helen Benson because she isn’t a dainty southern belle who is absolutely useless unless a man is around. While she still holds on to some of those generic 1950’s female traits, she also has passion and courage to make things happen and listen to what she believes. This was one of the earliest films I watched where it wasn’t completely supporting the idea of “Women and minorities stay back: you are incapable of solving this problem. Let us, the strong manly white men handle all the important work.” I loathe that way of thinking and that’s why I loved that this movie allowed a female figure to have more of an impact on events that could alter world history.
I also love that towards the end there is the suggestion that Klaatu’s speech about peace and unity isn’t just referring to warring countries with varying political and social identities, but also here in America in accepting people of all creeds, races, and sex. These ideas set forth in this movie are still not reality all these years later, but I think it is a fine principle to live by. Treat people with love, equality, and on the basis of peace and understanding. We have all seen recently that the world doesn’t quite work like that. Still, I try in my own life the best I can to live up to the ideas represented within this movie and that is why I will likely always cherish it.
This movie was great and despite it being released in 1951, it didn’t need a remake (a horrible remake at that). Watch the original and let it seep into you. The script is solid and so is the acting. The story is engaging and the ideas represented within still apply today. Watch and enjoy.