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|The movies of Science Fiction Double Feature
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1980 movie)
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Directed by ROBERT WISE (1951)
This disc is very much like the two disc laser version released a few years ago. As well as a restored version of the movie, the disc contains Movietone News reels of the release of the film, a feature length commentary, the orginal trailer, and even a comparison of before and after the restoration process.
The disc is presented in a full frame 1:33 version, rather than true widescreen. A slight disappointment there. Sound is two channel dolby digital, but there is not too much processing there either. As well as English, the additional languages are French, German, Italian and Spanish. Subtitles are available for all those languages with the addition of Dutch as well! Running time is 88 minutes for the main feature.Disc serial number F1-SGB 08738DVD
The US version of the DVD has different artwork on the cover, but the rest of the specifications seem the same for both versions.
A product of the early 1950's, a time of cheap and tacky monster movies, inspired by genuine cold-war paranoia; The Day the Earth Stood Still stands proud as one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, relying on a brilliant story, a tight script and superb performances rather than cheesy effects and corny dialogue.
Michael Rennie excels as extra-terrestrial visitor Klaatu, despatched to Earth, with his gigantic robot sidekick Gort, to offer an ultimatum to the leaders of our world. However, upon arrival he is met with fear and hostility, and promptly shot by a US serviceman with a particularly itchy trigger-finger. With the military on his trail, Klaatu goes on the run, posing as a man named Carpenter, and gains the trust of a young boy (Billy Gray) and his, at first suspicious, mother (Patricia Neal).
Although his mission is ultimately peaceful, the alien fugitive is forced to demonstate the kind of power his own planet possesses by neutralising all the electricity on Earth for exactly thirty minutes (hence the film's title), causing fear, panic and unease across the globe.
Finally, with Klaatu mortally wounded, it falls to Patricia Neal to deliver a secret code to Gort, in an attempt to spare humanity from the robot's overwhelming destructive powers; and we are treated to one of the most memorable lines of dialogue in movie history, "Klaatu barada nikto". Pure magic.
Rich with honest performances and iconic imagery, not to mention faultless direction by Robert Wise, as well as an eerie musical score, which employs the cinema's most effective use of theremin (a most underused instrument, in my opinion), The Day the Earth Stood Still is a thrilling, thought-provoking classic, just as relevant today (if not more so, given the current political climate) as when it was first released more than fifty years ago. They certainly don't make 'em like this any more.
Rob Bagnall (August 2003).
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