The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

classified U

The Sound of Sci-Fi


Please note: This was screened in April 2018

Robert Wise
Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe
88 mins, 1951, USA

The quintessential alien visitation tale of its era, Robert Wise’s Sci-Fi classic has had an incalculable influence on big-screen science-fiction with its state of the art effects and its otherworldly and indispensable, theremin-laced score by composer Bernard Herrmann.

When Klaatu (Michael Rennie), an alien ambassador, lands his spaceship in America and warns humanity that Earth risks imminent destruction by an interplanetary alliance unless it abandons its warlike ways, his message clearly doesn’t come across all that well as he is promptly shot by nervous military troops. Wounded, Klaatu is then forced to live among humans, but his powerful ten-foot servant robot Gort (Lock Martin), upon seeing this act of aggression, renders all of Earth's weapons useless allowing Klaatu to deliver an ultimatum to the world: stop fighting or be destroyed.

One of influential composer Bernard Herrmann’s earliest film scores, its pioneering use of the Theremin added a menacing atmosphere that would become a trademark in 1950s sci-fi soundtracks. Its iconic tones remain to this day terrifically eerie, still capable of making your hair stand on end.

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