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The Day The Earth Stood Still
The arrival in New York's Central Park of a giant sphere from another world may have dire consequences for our planet.

Photo credit: WETA.
™ and © 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

Movie Info


PG-13 for sci-fi disaster images and violence


December 12, 2008


Science Fiction


Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, John Cleese, Jon Hamm, Kyle Chandler, Kathy Bates


David Scarpa (screenplay); based on screenplay by Edmund H. North


Scott Derrickson


Twentieth Century Fox

Official Movie Web site


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The Day The Earth Stood Still: A Call to Change

By Laura J. Bagby Sr. Producer

Like the original, the 2008 The Day The Earth Stood Still is really less about battling aliens and spaceships and state-of-the-art technologies and more of a philosophical and social commentary about the state of humanity and the crises we face.

“I loved the idea of being able to tell basically the same story [as the original movie] but bring in these new social issues that we have now, these new interesting messes that we have gotten ourselves into,” said the movie's director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), when explaining why he decided to tackle a remake of the 1951 sci-fi success.

“We are uniquely recognizing that sometimes you have to get yourself in a bind before you find the strength to rise above that and change and become better than you were in the first place,” he said.

And that strength to change happens in a microcosmic way with scientist Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) who is dealing with the death of her husband, her angry and estranged stepson Jacob (Jaden Smith), and the global threat of annihilation by alien Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) and his robot friend Gort if humanity doesn’t learn to curb their violent ways. Heavily weighed down by personal and global responsibility, she begs with all sincerity, “But we can change!”

All this talk of internally motivated change points to just how radically different this film is from so many other sci-fi thrillers. Instead of blaming exterior things – like aliens and spaceships – for our global predicament, the movie intentionally points the finger back at us. As the famous saying goes, “We have seen the enemy; and it is us.” The struggle ultimately then isn’t alien versus human. Rather it is man versus a greater global existence, man versus himself, and even a bit of man versus the environment.

But make no mistake: Though this movie is the first green film produced by Twentieth Century Fox, Derrickson isn’t taking a strong stand on environmental conservation. He isn’t saying to audience members, “Hey, go green.”

“The earth matters to God, deeply. He is going to redeem it – period – just as He is going to redeem my body – period. So I have to treat it as a divine thing. What I certainly haven’t done publicly and haven’t done with this movie is take any kind of position other than that.”

No, the change the movie calls for isn’t so much environmental as it is the call to change our character from a cold hardness to an ability to show warmth and compassion once again, to end the fighting amongst ourselves and live in peace with each other.

Klaatu ultimately recognizes that humans aren’t just bent on destruction. They, in fact, are much more complex and loving than he had first imagined. And it is this understanding that convinces the alien to save the Earth from destruction.

Perhaps if there is one lesson to learn from The Day The Earth Stood Still, it is this: not only do we have the power to change once we recognize the depth of the predicament we are in and take personal responsibility for it, but if we want to succeed as a species, we absolutely must change for the better.

Speaking of changing for the better, want to know more about the parallels between Klaatu and Jesus? Read Klaatu as Christ Figure.

Visit the official movie site for The Day The Earth Stood Still.

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