The Day the Earth Stood Still: Two-Disc Special Edition Robert Wise

The Day the Earth Stood Still: Two-Disc Special Edition Robert Wise
Given both of the World wars, as well as the one brewing in Korea and Truman's decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is no surprise that North American artistes, who are typically a more liberal-minded and peace-loving crew, would make a sci-fi parable that essentially points out that mankind is puerile and retarded. From the opening moments of The Day the Earth Stood Still, the lesson is clear: humankind's propensity for resolving conflict with brute force is a problem and we must stop or suffer the consequences. This becomes evident when Klaatu (Michael Rennie) lands in Washington, DC and emerges from a flying saucer only to get a bullet in the shoulder. Rather than simply obliterating the planet, much like a human would do, Klaatu decides to spend some time on the planet getting to know the locals, which is convenient, as government officials deny him his wish of gathering all world officials to deliver his inter-stellar message of peace, since teleconferencing wasn't really an option in 1950. Despite some amusing character decisions (sure, strange man, take my ten-year-old son out for some fun) and some speeding up of footage, the film holds up fairly well as a successful narrative with a clear message. The two-disc DVD offers a ridiculous amount of special features, including featurettes on the "History of Flying Saucers" and the allegorical implications of the film ("Decoding Klaatu Barada Nikto"), which are perhaps the more interesting of the offerings, examining political relevance and telling the stories of UFO abductees, who look like the kind of people who would claim to be abductees. Two commentary tracks are available from both the director and some historians (the latter of which is completely unnecessary), in addition to a look at the sounds of the Theremin, a "making of," mini-biographies of novelist Harry Bates and screenwriter Edmund White, and a short 1982 documentary with Burt Lancaster about the evils of nuclear warheads, which features school children singing about peace. Funny. (Fox)