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File:The Day the Earth Stood Still 2508.jpg

The Day The Earth Stood Still is a 1951 black-and-white science fiction movie based on the short story Farewell to the Master. The Human Alien Klaatu lands in Washington DC (in a classic Flying Saucer) during the Cold War era. The paranoid military shoots him, prompting his robot Gort to go on a rampage. Klaatu stops Gort, then tells the President of a message for all the world's leaders (who can't agree on a meeting place). Klaatu later escapes to live among the people of Earth and learns of their penchant for war -- but also of their message of peace and understanding.

As a demonstration of power, Klaatu freezes everything mechanical in the entire world (except for airplanes in flight and hospital electronics) for exactly half an hour. (This is the event referred to in the title, though nobody calls it such within the story.) The military takes this as a sign of hostile intent and responds by hunting Klaatu down and killing him. Shortly before they catch up with him, Klaatu gives one of his newfound human friends, Helen, a message to deliver to Gort in his own language: "Klaatu Barada Nikto." Gort re-activates upon Klaatu's death and begins destroying the city, but Helen's message diverts Gort into retrieving Klaatu's body. The robot temporarily revives Klaatu, who tells the people of Earth of Gort's true purpose: he, and other robots like him, were built to enforce peace in the galaxy -- and if humans bring their warlike ways into space, they will be destroyed. Klaatu leaves Earth with a simple phrase to mull over: "The choice is yours."

This film's plot was copied in the extremely similar (yet hilarious) Plan 9 from Outer Space.

A 2008 remake starred Keanu Reeves in the role of Klaatu; you can see the plot of the remake as recapped by a Bum in this video on Bum Reviews.


The Day The Earth Stood Still provides examples of the following tropes:


The following tropes apply specifically to the 2008 remake:

  • Aliens Speaking Mandarin Chinese
  • Aliens Steal Cable: used, but not thoroughly: even though the aliens had been studying the Earth for a while, Klaatu had apparently never heard Bach before.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The aliens are committing genocide against a sentient race to protect a planet which is in no appreciable danger. Even if we wipe ourselves out life will go on, and CO2 and methane scrubbing bacteria will come in and clean up after us. This is instead of just giving us better technology. They had to get to our level of technology, to get to theirs.
  • Avengers Assemble: Gathering the team.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Presumably Klaatu's actions aren't as hypocritical to him as they are to us.
  • Broken Aesop: We're destroying the other species on our planet, and aliens think that's bad. Fine. So why does Helen's love for Jacob change Klaatu's mind? A mother's love for a child of her own species, while charming, doesn't really show anything except a desire to perpetuate her species. It'd be more valid if she showed love for an animal, perhaps something completely dissimilar to humans. Instead, The Power of Love conquers all.
  • The Cameo: Gurrak
  • Fun with Acronyms: The US government decides Klaatu's robot buddy is Genetically Organized Robotic Technology--apparently, just having Klaatu say "Gort" at some point wasn't remakey enough.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We never see anyone getting totally disintegrated by the metal insects that make up Gort. The worst we see is a technician get a nosebleed and then fall over dead.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Mandarin Chinese. Keanu Reeves tries really hard, but still doesn't get it quite right.
  • Grey Goo: How GORT was going to wipe out humanity.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Maybe. The period of time without electricity isn't specified. See its entry on the trope page.
  • Knight Templar: Klaatu
  • Lowered Monster Difficulty: for certain values of "monster"
  • No Conservation of Energy: The space ship must have had some nice phlebotinum to decelerate that fast without creating enough waste heat to completely level the UN.
  • Product Placement: So blatant that it's distracting.
  • The Remake
  • Spheroid Dropship: In the place of the classic movie's Flying Saucer.
  • The Swarm: The metal insects that comprise GORT.
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