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444 of 459 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember back when nothing "happened" in movies?, May 29, 2003
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This review is from: The Day the Earth Stood Still (DVD)
Watching this recently, it amazed me how little action there is in this movie, and yet it remains as captivating and enthralling as ever. There are none of the set pieces we have come to expect in modern genre films: no explosions, no gory deaths, one small chase scene. Tension is developed through character development and the wonderful performances of Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie, with some wonderful supporting work from Sam Jaffe and Frances Bavier (Mayberry's Aunt Bea!)
There are very few special effects: the odd tank disappears in a glow of light, but other than that, this is a film driven by character development. Taut direction by Robert Wise, straightforward writing from Edmund North and impressive cinematography by Leo Tower create an intelligent, literate, adult science fiction film that appeals to all ages.
Special mention must be made of Bernard Herrmann's haunting score. One of the first film scores to use Leon Theremin's eerie and eponymous electronic instrument, which unfortunately became a genre cliché, the music adds immeasurably to the tense and unsettling atmosphere.
Modern audiences may find the film's message heavy handed and obvious, relying on 1950's atomic paranoia and the absolute power it brought. In fact, Klaatu's proffered peaceful solution borders on totalianarianism. But these are minor considerations considering this is a simple story stunningly told.
The DVD contains many interesting extras of interest to film buffs and collectors, including a shooting script, extended discussions on the evolution of the film from idea to release, and an odd look at the people fascinated with collecting 1950's sci-fi film props and paraphernalia.
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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 13, 2008 7:35:22 AM PDT
it's says:
Great comment, except it's called "Totalitarianism". And I'd take Klaatu and Gort's Totalitarianism any day over Bush's administration and the state of the world today.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2008 6:46:43 PM PST
That's a funny spelling-nazi kinda comment coming from a guy who writes a review with the word "gr8". This is a remarkably erudite review, and you don't HAVE to be a tool.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 8:07:46 AM PST
I agree completely with your review, very well done, and insightful. I can't imagine that remaking this film is possible, since many of the themes established in the original played off the strong fear and paranoia of the time. Nice review.

Posted on Dec 9, 2008 5:59:37 PM PST
Gene D. Noah says:
Review is not of this version so is of limited value, thanks to Amazon's misleading policy of lifting reviews from one disc and putting them on another.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 11, 2008 8:36:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 11, 2008 8:37:11 PM PST
The movie is thought-provoking, however the thought of embracing totalitarianism over our nation's current administration (at least what is publicly acknowledged) is ridiculous. Freedom of expression is a golden liberty in this nation and the intellectually dishonest play with smoke and mirrors as they bandy about dispensing with our basic freedoms to please Europe and the Middle East, all the while openly condemning an administration with which they do not agree. Peace through strength is the ultimate theme of the movie, however such wisdom is lost on those who want to leave the United States' national neck exposed. The soft-pedaled socialism we are now facing is doomed to fail, however I'm sure that short-sighted commentary will obscure all of the details once again, confusing the issue rather than adding light to it. I'm sure Gort would want to melt down those who promote such dishonesty!

Posted on Jan 11, 2009 6:06:07 PM PST
Mr. Brennan's thoughful review is much appreciated and I agree that Bernard Herrmann composed a wonderful score for "The Day the Earth Stood Still." However it was not among the first films to use the electronic instrument called the Theremin, named after its Russian inventor, Lev (Leon) Theremin. The Alfred Hitchcock movie "Spellbound" released six years earlier in 1945 used it in several places including the opening credit roll.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 11, 2009 6:49:51 PM PST
Bph71085 says:
The score to the 1931 Russian film "Odna" (Alone) composed by the famous Russian composer Dimitry Shostakovitch was, to my knowledge, the first film score to use the Theremin. Brilliant score, as one would expect. ( Cheers!

Posted on Mar 24, 2010 9:40:45 AM PDT
Jaybrennan, I like your review except for one point: the comparison to totalitarianism. What you seem to have forgotten is that Klattu and his people are equally vulnerable to Gort's terrible powers, and those of the robot "race" of policemen who Gort is one of.

This perfectly corresponds to the notion of karma, as a blind force that punish only wrong-doers.

Posted on May 13, 2010 10:19:05 PM PDT
Great review, Michael. The fact that there are 340 five-star reviews renews my faith in mankind. The remake is in reverse. It had something like 139 one-star reviews and 57 five-star reviews. I love it when Hollywood falls flat on its face. They certainly screwed up the remake, and the reviews here at amazon proves it. I hope the producer of the remake is fired for such arrogant ignorance. Jesus, any fan of the old movie could have done a better job with the story.

Hollywood can shrivel up and die as far as I'm concerned. All they seem to know how to do anymore is shovel manure in our faces.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2011 12:02:18 PM PDT
Rick Bishop says:
I agree, but; would like to add that the message is not a political one. It is concerning violence. We are told that what we do on our own planet is our business, but; that we are about to move into space and should we continue with violence in space we will be oblitorated :o)
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