Monster of the Day #27

The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all, or no one is secure. Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them. We, of the other planets, have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our policemen, we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked. At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. 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. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts. 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.”

  • I wonder if modern Europeans would like this movie more than modern Americans. The thought of an inflexible ruling class that keeps us all safe so long as we toe the line chills me to the core.

  • Ericb

    Oops, sorry Keanu, I thought you were one of those dirty humans for a second.

  • David Fullam

    Gort. HELL YES!

  • Gamera

    Loved the film when I was younger but these days I like Sandy I find the idea… troubling…

    I suppose at the time though it was assumed that if you have nukes they’d be used at some point. I’m still amazed how well MAD (Muturally Assured Destruction) worked.

    Still fantastic movie and Gort was one of the coolest robots in film.

    I don’t remember if it was on this site or another where someone commented on the changes from the short story ‘Farewell to the Master’ on which the film was based. I recently read FttM and it’s interesting (SPOILER) that the story is almost the same but the whole disarmament plot was added. In the story Klaatu was shot by humans and the robot spent the rest of the story using his advanced science to bring back his ‘pet’.

  • BeckoningChasm

    Awesome robot, excellent Bernard Herrmann score…there’s a lot to like in DTESS.

  • John Nowak

    Yeah, Day the Earth Stood Still is an intelligent movie, and I think it’s one of Ken’s “Keystone Films.” It clearly inspired movies from Santo and the Martian Invasion to Plan 9 itself.

    It’s always amused me that Plan 9 was the only one which actually justified the aliens’ concern. Solaranite probably can’t work, but it can’t just be brushed off with, “Dude, space is like… big.”

    And yeah, the moral doesn’t play particularly well with me personally. Funny how the original short story understood this, and every film version didn’t get it.

  • This was one of the best sci-fis of the 1950s. It had one of my favorite movie lines, spoken by Sam Jaffe. “Sit down. I have several thousand questions I’d like to ask you.”

    One thing I’ve always wondered though, is the wisdom of having a race of Gort robots you cannot turn off policing the universe. Just how sentient are they? Will they someday percieve all organic life as a threat and go Terminator on everyone? I realize they have a verbal override command, but could they figure out how to override the override command? The whole thing sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

    Still, a good film.

  • Rock Baker

    One of the most chilling speeches in cinema history. Somehow, I just don’t buy the “we live in peace” bit. If he had said that they live in fear, I’d believe that. For the sake of the other planets, I hope the policebots all have a master shutdown switch located at a single HQ on a space station or something, and I’d like to think that some rebels got fed up enough with the system to break onto the station and throw the switch. (Hey, there’s a sequel right there…)