The Day the Earth Stood Still

Title: The Day the Earth Stood Still
Year: 1951
Director: Robert Wise
Writer: Edmund H. North, based on a story by Harry Bates
Starring: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Distinctions: currently #222 on IMDb’s Top 250
Synopsis: an alien visitor wants humans to live in peace
Length: 92 minutes
How I saw it: on video (rented from Netflix), October 2008
Subjective Rating: 6/10 (Okay).
Objective Rating: 9/10 (1 point off for cinematography) c. 3.2/4 (Very good).

It’s about as dated as a movie can get, but very well done overall. Klaatu (the lead character) is interesting and surprisingly subtle. I thought the special effects looked pretty good, although maybe I would feel otherwise if I hadn’t spent all those hours watching classic Doctor Who. The music is the quintessential 50’s sci-fi score – probably groundbreaking, too. The plot is roughly the same as half the sci-fi short stories ever written, but it’s one of the only movies I know of that treats that plot the way the stories do. So, even though I wasn’t crazy about the movie, as a fan of classic science fiction, I have a sort of reverence for it.


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