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DVD Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still (2-Disc Special Edition)


I've been looking forward to seeing another big budget sci-fi flick, and although the previews don't really make The Day The Earth Stood look like a mega-fantastic film, we sci-fi fanatics don't really have a whole lot of choices at the moment. So in preparation, I figured I'd check out the original The Day The Earth Stood Still. I'm sure I saw it as a kid, but don't remember a thing about it. Luckily, a new two-disc edition of the original has just been released, so I went with that one.

Okay, so although this is a sci-fi movie involving aliens, there are no spaceship fights or invasions or anything like that. In fact, there's very little action here at all, and is mostly just a commentary about the fear, distrust, and paranoia found in the American people during the 1950s. Of course, with a little push from government and other paranoid idiots, these feels can consume pretty much any society during any time period, but that's a discussion for another day.

The movie finds an alien spacecraft landing on Earth, but whomever is inside takes several hours to come out, allowing the military plenty of time to surround the craft, doing what they do best... pointing guns. When the craft finally does open, everyone gets jittery. They're also surprised when out walks a perfectly normal-looking human dude. So Klaatu steps out of the craft and walks up to a military dude in charge. Wow, first contact....

Mr. Alien then reaches in this coat and pulls out some device, an action which causes a nervous soldier to end up shooting him. What the hell, dumbass?! Aren't these guys supposed to be trained? But to be fair, what the hell was Klaatu thinking, reaching into his coat and pulling out some strange device without any kind of warning or explanation for what he was gonna do, especially while a whole bunch of guns were pointed straight at him.

Okay, so luckily Mr. Alien is a quick healer, and is good as new in no time at all. Now, he has a very important message for the entire world, but it won't say what it is. Apparently, it's SOOOO important that it must be told to all world leaders at once. He's told that won't be possible, but Mr. Alien is adamant. So the government dudes try, but as they suspected, none of the world leaders can agree on where to meet, so it's a no go.

Now you'd think that an alien spacecraft landing in Washing D.C. would encourage a few of these folks to put aside some of their pettiness, but I guess not. And you'd think that if this message was so damn important, he would just start telling anyone who would listen, but nope, he doesn't like repeating himself so he's gonna be an ass and not tell anybody. He's not quite ready to give up yet, however, so he slips out of the hospital and decides to live among the people to learn more about them. And that's what the meat of this movie is about. We get a bit of suspense towards the end, but really it's all about his experience living in a paranoid community.

I'm sure it was great for it's time, but nowadays it seems rather bland. At least to me. There is very little sci-fi here, a few special effects, and one minor chase sequence. It was interesting to watch mainly for just seeing a piece of sci-fi history. So yeah, I liked seeing it, but no, I don't think it was a great sci-fi flick. This two-disc set comes with a bunch of extra features, the best of which are located on disc two. There you'll find a bunch of featurettes about the movie, the times in which it was made, and sci-fi in general. These are all pretty interesting in the same way as the movie... in the historical sense. If I were still a teenager, I probably would care, but now that I am more interested in history, I'd say it's worth checking out.

Disc1

  • Main Movie (with commentary)
  • The Making of The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still Main Title Live Performance by Peter Pringle
  • Farewell to the Master: A Reading by Jamieson K. Price
  • Fox Movietone News (1951)

Disc 2

  • Decoding "Klaatu Barada Nikto": Science Fiction as Metaphor
  • A Brief History of Flying Saucers
  • The Astounding Harry Bates
  • Edmund North: The Man Who Made The Earth Stand Still
  • Race to Oblivion: A Documentary Short Written & Produced By Edmund North

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