dayearthstoodstillbluThere have been many timeless classic films over the years and in 1951 director Robert Wise would direct the sci-fi classic ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’. Real life events would add to the film giving it even more luster in the 50’s. Those events I am referring to are World War II and the flying saucer/aliens phenomenon. The film would open in theaters to a US box office gross of $3.7 million dollars.

The story of the film revolves around a short story released in 1940 by the name of ‘Farewell to the Master’ by Harry Bates. This story would tell a tale of what would happen if there was a flying saucer that landed in Washington, D.C. This is how ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ would open up. An alien Klaatu (Michael Rennie) lands in Washington, D.C. in his spacecraft with his silver robotic looking friend Gort (Lock Martin). The military do not take to well to the robot, so they shoot at him. The military does not know that Klaatu has brought him along as a gift.

Klaatu requests that a meeting be held with all the political leaders of the Earth. He has a message that needs to be delivered to them that is very important. In the meantime, Klaatu has been taken to a hospital for testing purposes. He finds out that a meeting of this magnitude is not possible due to the issues at hand with the political world. Klaatu decides to sneak out of the hospital and go by the name of Carpenter. So his mission begins to find out what these Earth people are all about. Klaatu would meet Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and her son Bobby (Billy Gray) making friends with them.

‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ is a very good science fiction film that isn’t about a threat coming to Earth and attacking. It is more about an impending attack that the Earthlings must be aware of that’s coming. The message here is that an alien race could be on the way. In today’s science fiction films, it is more about all the hoopla with action taking center stage.

In some ways the film doesn’t hold up to well from a special effects stand point in 2008. This movie is not about the special effects, it is about the story that Robert Wise is trying to tell. You will see a few wires frames in some scenes, yet they aren’t as distracting as some may make them out to be. In one scene Gort actually carries Patricia Neal as you see the wires. Again, this is not what this film is about which some people will not appreciate what this is all about.

The acting in this film is superb especially with Michael Rennie. He makes the Klaatu character a very interesting one in the way he portrays him. At the time Rennie was a relative unknown in Hollywood. The rest of his career he would be kind of stuck with this role in people’s minds.
Movie Content: 4.5/5

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Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.33 full-screen aspect ratio. ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ has never looked this good. This is an excellent remastering of the film as it has never looked better. Black and White films have translated very well over to high definition and this is no different. This is a fairly clean transfer, so some of the imperfections that I mentioned above are fairly visible. All print damage from the previous DVD releases have been cleaned up to the best that FOX engineers could clean this almost 60 year old film. There are still some specks of dirt that are apparent in various scenes. Details are superb throughout. There is some grain in this print, but very subtle.
Video Quality: 3.5/5

The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix. ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ is mainly front centered since the original mix was mono. Bernard Herrmann’s score and some of the sound effects take a slight advantage of the rears. Concentration is still towards the front. Dialogue is well channeled through the center sounding very crisp. There were instances where the dialogue did sound scratch like throughout.
Audio Quality: 3.5/5

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Special Features

  • Interactive Theremin: Create Your Own Score feature
  • Commentary by Director Robert Wise and Director Nicholas Meyer
  • All New Commentary by Film and Music Historians John Morgan, Steven Smith, William Stromberg, and Nick Redman
  • Isolated Score Track
  • The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin Featurette
  • Main Title Live Performance by Peter Pringle Featurette
    The Making of The Day the Earth Stood Still Featurette
  • Decoding “Klaatu Barada Nikto”: Science Fiction as a Metaphor Featurette
  • A Brief History of Flying Saucers Featurette
  • The Astounding Harry Bates Featurette
  • Edmund North: The Man who Made The Earth Stand Still Featurette
  • Race to Oblivion: A Documentary Short
  • Farewell to a Master: A Reading by Jamieson K. Price of the Original Harry Bates Short Story
  • Fox Movietonews
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Still Galleries
  • Gort Command! (Interactive game)

The amount of special features offered here with the Blu-ray release of ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ is very impressive. I am glad that FOX has given a classic science fiction film like this the royal treatment.
Special Features: 5/5

Final Thoughts:

I have viewed ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ several times over the years and this is the best presentation of the film on Blu-ray. The video quality is superb with a few apparent flaws and the plethora of extras is astonishing. The remake with Keanu Reeves releases on December 12, will it be able to match the finesse and beauty of the original tale? For fans of early science fiction that lacked in special effects and the story told the tale, this is one film that I highly recommend.
Overall Rating: 4/5 (Purchase)