BE WARNED: THERE BE SPOILERS IN THESE HERE WATERS!
Before watching a film one begins speculating on the films possibilities. It may have a lot of action, or possibly some laughs thrown in. These possibilities grow into expectations and we measure our expectations up with the final product and see how the film measures up.
When the opening credits began for The Day the Earth Stood Still I began speculating and generating my own ideas of what I was going to witness over the next 90 minutes. I found myself feeling like this was going to be a cheesy, yet classic, 1950s Sci-Fi film. I figured there would be a lot of action filled with silly special effects but what I found was much deeper than that.
The Day the Earth Stood Still is about an alien named Klaatu landing on earth with his giant robot Gort to tell the world they must live peacefully or earth will be destroyed so as not to be a threat to other planets. After being shot at and taken to the hospital he tries to get the worlds leaders together so he can warn them, but he is informed that the leaders will not come together due to their differences. The film progresses with his trying to find a way to let earth know of the impending doom it is about to place upon itself.
I was highly intrigued with Klaatu while watching the film. He is so persistent on saving the world and has so much compassion for the world that it’s unbelievable that anyone could see him as a threat.
I related to this film in a different way than I think many others would. While Klaatu obviously speaks of the world and its petty arguing being juvenile and stupid I felt it on a more personal level. This film isn’t just a critique on war and international relations, but a story of love and compassion for our neighbor. Not only are fear tactics used by our president and the government in general, but they are used in everyday life. “I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason” Klaatu says about the world. This is the case with our nation, but it’s also the case with a wife who has an abusive husband. The wife is substituting fear for reason in the situation if she doesn’t leave him. This can also be said for the homosexual who holds in their true selves out of fear of what others will think, or to be more general, anyone who will not stand up for something they believe in!
In the article Alien Encounters: Science Fiction and The Mysterium in 2001, Solaris and Contact Karl Wessel writes; “At the level of personal psychology the alien can serve as an icon for the experience of loneliness and isolation experienced by many people living in modern or postmodern societies.” With this we see that Klaatu isn’t just here to rid the nations of their bickering, but the people in these nations from their loneliness. If we weren’t so incessantly worried about the affairs of others we may all just be able to be ourselves and love each other for who we are. Christians and gays can run through fields holding hands while bloods and krips have tea parties. Through this we find loneliness and isolation has ended because our belittling of each other will have ended.
With saying that I don’t believe Klaatu’s goal was for us to never argue or have a conflict of any sort. It seems in Klaatu’s final speech he takes a very Libertarian approach. “Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly”, it seems he realizes that we all will not agree and have the freedom to believe whatever we will to believe, just do not infringe it upon others. “The result is, we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war. Free to pursue more... profitable enterprises”, He realizes that freedom is what we should have as a world, but it is impossible to do so with such aggression, not conflict, but when conflict leads to aggression. “It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder”, it is here that we find a puzzling statement. Klaatu just spent the entire film talking about no violence we must live in peace, yet he is threatening to reduce the earth to “a burned-out cinder”. This is where the Libertarian politics fully come into play. We are all to live in peace unless one is protecting ones self. In this we find the root of Klaatu’s reasoning for coming to earth. Until we can realize that when someone is not effecting us their actions should not be a problem we will not have peace. This is the basis of Klaatu’s argument and the conclusion of mine.
“I'm impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it.” Says Klaatu. Mr. Harley responds; “I'm afraid my people haven't. I'm very sorry... I wish it were otherwise.”