QUOTE: “For our policemen, we created a race of robots… In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us… At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor.”
—The alien Klaatu, describing his robotic companion.
Call it the Alien vs. Predator of its day; a sci-fi movie that took three of the most tantalizing sci-fi concepts — flying saucers, aliens and robots — and fused them all together in a movie about the planet brought to the brink of destruction in a single day.
Landing in Washington, a mysterious spacecraft holds two occupants: Klaatu, an alien, and Gort, a robot. As the ship opens its doors, Klaatu flees, determined to hide among the people in hopes of learning about the human race. Gort, meanwhile, stands guard — a silent, silver sentinel. The American military approach him with fear and suspicion because — surprise, surprise — they believe these creatures came to hurt humans and that the spacecraft can mean nothing but doom for all. Considering Klaatu the enemy, the military opens fire when the alien returns to the spaceship, and Gort responds to the attack by firing a death ray before Klaatu intervenes.
Released shortly after the end of World War II, in the midst of America’s Cold War tensions that would influence so many sci-fi films to come, the message of The Day the Earth Stood Still is steeped in a fear for the future of our own species and destructive earthly ways. As for Gort, he is a peaceful alien who is misunderstood — but when provoked, he is not above protecting his own, even if that means killing us all.
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