Saturday, September 20, 2014

So Why The Day the Earth Stood Still

First published Sunday, March 8, 2009

   It's a great film, by a great, and hugely eclectic director, Robert Wise (who made one other of my favorite films, The Haunting). Considered one of the three classic Sci Fi films from the 50s (the two others being, The War of the Worlds and Forbidden Planet), which by a remarkable coincidence happened to be the decade of my birth, I grew up watching this film, over and over again, whenever it came on TV. I thought Gort was so cool, so enigmatic, so powerful, so... precise. I thought the spaceship was so cool, so enigmatic, so powerful and precise. The way it opened up, and closed. No seams to be found, nothing to cut into. Gort, so unconcerned about what the mere humans were doing all around him, so stoic, yet fatefully aware. Klaatu and his mission to bring an everlasting peace to our world, despite ourselves. So cool that a film with this vision having been made a few years before I was even born. A true achievement.
   Yet as I grew older and continued to review the film often, I noticed certain easily rectifiable problems that began to annoy me more every time I thought about them.
   The science in the film being the main bug up my behind. The first occupation I ever thought about getting into was that of astronomer, so I studied up on the subject, and continue to do so to this day. I soon learned however that math was required, so I had to move on to other fields, but the little I did know of the subject allowed me to identify certain anachronisms within the movie that just screamed at me every time I watched it, and which should have been readily apparent to the film makers at the time of production. I couldn't understand how Wise could have allowed the film to be so inaccurate in such simple, but blazingly obvious errors. Such as:
   Klaatu states he has traveled several months, over 250,000,000 miles to get to Earth. Well that's all well and good. That's about the same amount of speed our own spacecraft currently travel about the solar system at. However, 250,000,000 miles? There's nothing out there! 250,000,000 outward from the Earth would be somewhere in our asteroid belt (conversely, 250,000,000 sunward from the Earth would go straight through the sun, out the far side, and wind up about 33,000,000 miles beyond the orbit of Mars), where there is nothing, as far as we can currently tell, that would be able to support a civilization capable of building the spaceship and Gort. Nothing.
   There were other things that bothered me as well that might not have been obvious, or available to the filmmakers at the time of production. Such as:
   Klaatu is human. The movie portrays Klaatu as being of extraterrestrial origen, and being human, without explanation. Now every school child knows (those that haven't had Intelligent Design crammed down their poor little school children throats) that the odds of every particular accident, twist and turn of our evolutionary history being duplicated on any other planet in this galaxy, perhaps the entire universe, are exceptionally small. Itsy bitsy small. Astronomical, if you will. It just wouldn't happen, despite Star Trek.
   It had to be explained.
   As well as other little items, like how could our pathetic little atomic arsenal be a real threat to other planets without a viable delivery system; how Klaatu escaped so easily from the military, why there was no attempt to shoot down the spaceship even as it approached our nation's capital, etc.
   So that is why I endeavored to write a remake of Robert Wise's masterwork, The Day the Earth Stood Still. My long time love and respect for the original, and my desire to, not make it better, but to update it in the attempt to make it a bit more palatable and relevant for our modern, Attention Deficit Disorder audience's.
   I will not at this time make any reference or criticism of the latest remake of TDTESS, staring Keanu Reeves, and my favorite contemporary actress, Jennifer Connelly. My screenplay (my first) was written at least a year and a half before I ever heard the remake was being contemplated (Why didn't I submit my screenplay after it was finished? I had, and still do not have any idea of how to submit a screenplay. I'm just a guy who lives in a box... with low self esteem) I leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide your own preference.
   So here it is then, my version of The Day the Earth the Stood Still.

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