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The Day the Earth Stood Still

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For the remake, see The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008 film).

The Day the Earth Stood Still
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Wise
Screenplay byEdmund H. North
Based onFarewell to the Master
by Harry Bates
Produced byJulian Blaustein
StarringMichael RenniePatricia NealHugh MarloweSam JaffeBilly GrayFrances BavierLock Martin
CinematographyLeo Tover A.S.C.
Edited byWilliam ReynoldsA.C.E.
Music byBernard Herrmann
Color processBlack and white
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dateSeptember 18, 1951
Running time92 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.85 million (US theatrical rentals)[3]
File:Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951 - trailer.ogv

Movie trailer

The Day the Earth Stood Still (a.k.a. Farewell to the Master and Journey to the World) is a 1951 American science fiction film from 20th Century Fox, produced by Julian Blaustein and directed by Robert Wise. The film stars Michael RenniePatricia NealHugh MarloweSam JaffeBilly GrayFrances Bavier and Lock Martin. The screenplay was written by Edmund H. North, based on the 1940 science fiction short story “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates, and the film score was composed by Bernard Herrmann.[4]

Set in the Cold War during the early stages of the nuclear arms race, the film’s storyline involves a humanoid alien visitor who comes to Earth, accompanied by a powerful robot, to deliver an important message that will affect the entire human race.

In 1995, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.[5][6]



When a flying saucer lands in Washington, D.C., the United States Army quickly surrounds it. A humanoid emerges and announces that he comes “in peace and with good will”. When he unexpectedly opens a small device, he is shot and wounded by a nervous soldier. A tall robot emerges from the saucer and quickly disintegrates the Army’s weapons. The alien orders the robot, Gort, to desist. He explains that the now-broken device was a gift for the President of the United States that would have enabled him “to study life on the other planets”.

The alien, Klaatu, is taken to Walter Reed Army Hospital. After surgery, he uses a salve to quickly heal his wound. Meanwhile, the Army tries but is unable to enter the saucer; Gort stands outside, silent and unmoving.

Klaatu tells the President’s secretary, Mr. Harley, that he has a message that must be delivered to all the world’s leaders simultaneously. Harley tells him that in the current world situation this is impossible. Klaatu proposes to spend time among ordinary humans to better understand their “unreasoning suspicions and attitudes”. Harley rejects the proposal and Klaatu is kept under guard.

Klaatu is able to escape and moves into a boarding house as “Mr. Carpenter”, using the name (“Maj. Carpenter”) on the dry cleaner’s tag on a suit he acquired. Among the residents are young widow Helen Benson and her son Bobby. Klaatu becomes a mentor to Bobby. Helen’s suitor, Tom Stevens, becomes jealous of this “Mr. Carpenter”.

The boy takes Klaatu on a tour of the city, including a visit to his father’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery; Klaatu learns that most of the deceased are soldiers killed in wars. They also visit the Lincoln Memorial. Klaatu asks Bobby, “Who is the greatest living person?” Bobby suggests Professor Barnhardt. They visit his home, but he is out. Klaatu enters the house. Barnhardt’s blackboard is covered with equations. Klaatu adds to them and, after being discovered by the housekeeper, leaves his contact information.

That evening, a government agent escorts Klaatu to Barnhardt. Klaatu tells Barnhardt that the people of other planets are concerned, now that humanity has developed rockets and rudimentary atomic power. He states that if his message is ignored, Earth will be “eliminated”. Barnhardt agrees to gather scientists from around the world at the saucer; he also suggests that Klaatu demonstrate his power.

Klaatu returns to his spaceship, unaware that Bobby is following him. Bobby watches as Gort knocks out two guards to help Klaatu reenter the saucer. Bobby runs home and tells Helen. She does not believe him, but Tom is suspicious.

The next day, for half an hour, starting at noon (in Washington), all electrical equipment on Earth ceases to operate, except for essential services, such as hospitals and airplanes in flight.

Klaatu learns that Bobby watched him the previous night. He visits Helen at work, reveals his purpose on Earth, and asks that she not betray him. Helen asks Tom to keep Klaatu’s identity secret, but, already in the process of alerting the military, he refuses to listen.

Helen and Klaatu rush to Barnhardt’s home. They hope that Barnhardt can hide Klaatu until the meeting later that evening. Klaatu tells Helen that, should anything happen to him, she must go to Gort and say, “Klaatu barada nikto“.

The Army tracks them down and hem in their taxi. Klaatu is shot dead, and his body is taken to a nearby police station cell. Helen rushes to the saucer and speaks the phrase. Hearing Klaatu’s words, Gort retrieves Klaatu’s body, and revives him, though Klaatu tells Helen that his revival is only temporary.

Klaatu tells Barnhardt’s assembled scientists that an interplanetary organization has created a police force of invincible robots like Gort. “In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us”. Klaatu concludes, “Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer”. Klaatu and Gort depart in the saucer.


Guy WilliamsRadio operator: “Holy mackerel, call headquarters, get the lieutenant.”
Kenneth KendallBBC news presenter
Elmer Davis“This is Elmer Davis again. We still don’t know what it is or where it comes from …”
Harry Harvey Sr.Taxi driver listening to Elmer Davis on radio
Charles Tannen [voice only]Radio newscaster: “We interrupt this program to give you a bulletin just received …”
H. V. Kaltenborn“This is H. V. Kaltenborn speaking. Here in the nation’s capital there is anxiety and concern …”
Louis Jean HeydtAirforce captain anxiously looking upward at the approaching spaceship
Roy EngelGovernment employee (in fedora) looking upward
Pat AherneGeneral at Pentagon: “Get me the chief of staff”
Wilson WoodOfficial: “Hello … I want to speak to the President …”
Drew Pearson“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, this is Drew Pearson. We bring you this special …”
Harry LauterPlatoon leader at spaceship landing site
Frank ConroyMr. Harley, secretary to the President: “I’ve been told you speak our language …”
Fay RoopeMajor general visiting the site of the spaceship landing: “Oh, Carlson, what’s the report?”
Harlan WardeCarlson, government metallurgist examining the spaceship: “No luck, sir. We’ve tried everything …”
Stuart WhitmanSentry guarding the spaceship
Robert OsterlohMajor White, Klaatu’s physician at Walter Reed Hospital
Lawrence DobkinArmy physician at Walter Reed Hospital examining Klaatu’s X-ray
Edith EvansonMrs. Crockett, proprietress of boarding house where Klaatu rents a room
John BrownMr. Barley, husband of the character played by Frances Bavier, resident at Mrs. Crockett’s
Olan SouleMr. Krull, resident of Mrs. Crockett’s boarding house
Gabriel Heatter [voice only]“And now, on this Sunday morning, we ask some questions that have been haunting …”
James CravenBusinessman among the crowd looking at the spaceship
Tyler McVeyMr. Brady, government agent who comes to see Klaatu at the boarding house
House Peters Jr.Military police captain who arrives with Klaatu at Professor Barnhardt’s house
Franklyn FarnumMan passing Klaatu and Helen Benson in her office building corridor
Wheaton ChambersMr. Bleeker, jeweler to whom Tom Stevens brings Klaatu’s diamond for evaluation
Millard Mitchell [voice only]General at Pentagon meeting
George LynnColonel Ryder at Pentagon meeting who reports Gort was being encased in a block of KL93 plastic
Chet BrandenburgMan unable to start his outboard motor due to the power outage
Carleton YoungColonel in jeep riding towards Klaatu’s boarding house: “Attention all units!”
Snub PollardTaxi driver with Klaatu and Helen Benson as passengers: “Hey, looks like somethin’ big’s goin’ on”
Spencer ChanOne of the world scientists gathered at Professor Barnhardt’s meeting alongside the spaceship

Cast notes
Top broadcast journalists of their time, Elmer DavisH.V. KaltenbornDrew Pearson, and Gabriel Heatter, appeared and/or were heard as themselves in cameo roles. Spencer Tracy and Claude Rains originally were considered for the part of Klaatu.[8][9]


In a 1995 interview, producer Julian Blaustein explained that Joseph Breen, the film censor installed by the Motion Picture Association of America at the Twentieth Century Fox studios, balked at the portrayal of Klaatu’s resurrection and limitless power.[8] At the behest of the MPAA, a line was written into the script; when Helen asks Klaatu whether Gort has unlimited power over life and death, Klaatu explains that Gort has only revived him temporarily: “that power is reserved to the Almighty Spirit”.[8][10] Of the elements that he added to Klaatu’s character, screenwriter Edmund North said, “It was my private little joke. I never discussed this angle with Blaustein or Wise because I didn’t want it expressed. I had originally hoped that the Christ comparison would be subliminal”.[11]

That the question even came up in an interview is proof enough that such comparisons did not remain subliminal, but they are subtle enough so that it is not immediately obvious to all viewers that those elements were intended to compare Klaatu to Jesus Christ.[12] When Klaatu escapes from the hospital, he steals the clothing of a Maj. Carpenter, carpentry being the profession the Bible says Jesus learned from Joseph, his father. He presents himself as John Carpenter, the same initials as Jesus Christ (and borrowing a given name from one of his disciples, John). His previous actions are misunderstood, and he eventually is killed by military authority. At the end of the film, Klaatu, having risen from the dead, ascends into the (night) sky. Other parallels include: his coming to Earth with a message for all mankind; his befriending of a child; possessing wisdom and specialized scientific knowledge beyond any human being; and people being given a sign of his power. At the very start of the film, one of the British radar technicians, upon observing the speed of Klaatu’s spaceship, is heard to exclaim, “Holy Christmas“![13]



Producer Julian Blaustein originally set out to make a film under the working titles of Farewell to the Master and Journey to the World which illustrated the fear and suspicion that characterized the early Cold War and Atomic Age. He reviewed more than two hundred science fiction short stories and novels in search of a storyline that could be used because this film genre was well suited for a metaphorical discussion of such grave issues. Studio head Darryl F. Zanuck gave the go-ahead for this project, and Blaustein hired Edmund North to write the screenplay based on elements from Harry Bates’s 1940 short story “Farewell to the Master“. The revised final screenplay was completed on February 21, 1951. Science fiction writer Raymond F. Jones worked as an uncredited adviser.[14]


The set was designed by Thomas Little and Claude Carpenter. They collaborated with the architect Frank Lloyd Wright for the design of the spacecraft. Paul Laffoley has suggested that the futuristic interior was inspired by Wright’s Johnson Wax Headquarters, completed in 1936. Laffoley quotes Wright and his attempt in designing the exterior: “… to imitate an experimental substance that I have heard about which acts like living tissue. If cut, the rift would appear to heal like a wound, leaving a continuous surface with no scar.”[15]


Principal outdoor photography for The Day the Earth Stood Still was shot on the 20th Century Fox sound stages and on its studio back lot (now located in Century City, California), with a second unit shooting background and other scenes in Washington D.C. and at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. The shooting schedule was from April 9 to May 23, 1951, and the primary actors never traveled to Washington to make the film. Director Robert Wise indicated in the DVD commentary that the United States Department of Defense refused participation in the film based on a reading of the script. The military equipment shown, however, came from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment then stationed at Fort Meade which supplied the vehicles, equipment, and soldiers for the segments depicting Army operations.[16] One of the film’s tanks bears the “Brave Rifles” insignia of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.[17]

The robot Gort was played by Lock Martin, who worked as an usher at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and stood seven feet, seven inches tall. Not used to being in such a confining, heat-inducing costume, he worked carefully while wearing the two oversize, laced-up-the-front-or-back, foamed neoprene suits needed for creating the illusion on screen of a seamless metallic Gort. Wise decided Martin’s on-screen shooting time would be limited to half-hour intervals, so Martin, with his generally weak constitution, would face no more than minor discomfort. These segments, in turn, were then edited together into the film’s final print.[18]

In a commentary track on DVD, interviewed by fellow director Nicholas Meyer, Wise said he wanted the film to appear as realistic and believable as possible, in order to drive home the motion picture’s core message against armed conflict in the real world. Also mentioned in the DVD’s documentary interview was the original title for the film, “The Day the World Stops”. Blaustein said his aim with the film was to promote a “strong United Nations“.[19]

Herrmann’s score

The music score was composed by Bernard Herrmann in August 1951, and was the first film score he composed after moving from New York to Hollywood. Herrmann chose unusual instrumentation for the film: violin, cello, and bass (all three electric), two theremin electronic instruments (played by Dr. Samuel Hoffman and Paul Shure), two Hammond organs, Fox studio’s Wurlitzer organ, three vibraphones, two glockenspiels, marimba, tam-tam, two bass drums, three sets of timpani, two pianos, celesta, two harps, one horn, three trumpets, three trombones, and four tubas.[20] Herrmann’s advances in film scoring included Unison organs, tubas, piano, and bass drum, staggered tritone movement, and glissando in theremins, as well as exploitation of the dissonance between D and E-flat and experimentation with unusual overdubbing and tape-reversal techniques. In using the theremin, Herrmann made an early foray into electronic music, one year before Karlheinz Stockhausen and three years before Edgard Varèse.[21]

Music and soundtrack

Main article: The Day the Earth Stood Still (soundtrack)

The Day the Earth Stood Still
Film score by Bernard Herrmann
RecordedAugust 1951
GenreSoundtracksFilm score
Label20th Century Fox
ProducerNick Redman
Review scores
AllMusic link

20th Century Fox later reused the Bernard Herrmann title theme in the original pilot episode of Irwin Allen‘s 1965 TV series Lost in Space; the music was also used extensively in Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV series in various episodes. Danny Elfman noted The Day the Earth Stood Still‘s score inspired his interest in film composing, and made him a fan of Herrmann.[22]

1.“Twentieth Century Fox Fanfare”0:12
2.“Prelude / Outer Space/Radar”3:45
5.“Gort / The Visor / The Telescope”2:23
7.“Solar Diamonds” (not used in film)1:04
9.“Lincoln Memorial”1:27
10.“Nocturne / The Flashlight / The Robot / Space Control”5:58
11.“The Elevator / Magnetic Pull / The Study / The Conference / The Jewelry Store”4:32
13.“The Glowing / Alone / Gort’s Rage / Nikto / The Captive / Terror”5:11
14.“The Prison”1:42


Critical response[edit]

Variety praised the documentary style of The Day the Earth Stood Still and its reviewer wrote that “the yarn is told interestingly enough and imbued with sufficient science-fiction lures and suspense so that only seldom does its moralistic wordiness get in the way … Cast, although secondary to the story, works well”.[19][23] Harrison’s Reports wrote: “Very good! It is by far the best of the science-fiction pictures yet produced. It holds one’s interest undiminished from start to finish and, although the theme is admittedly fantastic, one is made to feel as if he is seeing a real-life occurrence because of the expert handling of the subject matter and the extremely fine special effects work”.[24] The Los Angeles Times praised the film’s seriousness, though it also found “certain subversive elements”.[19] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote a dismissive review, however, calling the film “tepid entertainment” and describing Gort as “oddly unmenacing”.[25]

The Day the Earth Stood Still was moderately successful when released, accruing US$1,850,000 in distributors’ domestic (U.S. and Canada) rentals, making it the year’s 52nd biggest earner.[26][c]

The Day the Earth Stood Still earned more plaudits overseas: the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave the filmmakers a special Golden Globe Award for “promoting international understanding”. Bernard Herrmann‘s score also received a nomination at the Golden Globes.[27] The French magazine Cahiers du cinéma was impressed, its contributor Pierre Kast called it “almost literally stunning” and praised its “moral relativism”.[19]


The Day the Earth Stood Still received recognition from the American Film Institute and was selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. In 2001, it was ranked number 82 on 100 Years … 100 Thrills, a list of America’s most heart-pounding films.[28] It placed number 67 on a similar list 100 Years … 100 Cheers, a list of America’s most inspiring films.[29] In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its “10 Top 10” – the best ten films in ten “classic” American film genres – after polling more than 1,500 people from the creative community. The Day the Earth Stood Still was acknowledged as the fifth best film in the science fiction genre.[30] The film was also on the ballot for AFI’s other lists including 100 Years … 100 Movies,[31] the tenth anniversary list,[32] 100 Years … 100 Heroes and Villains for Klaatu in the heroes category,[33] 100 Years … 100 Movie Quotes for the famous line “Gort! Klaatu barada nikto[34] and AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores.[35] In 2004, the film was selected by The New York Times as one of The Best 1000 Movies Ever Made.[36]

Lou Cannon and Colin Powell believed the film inspired Ronald Reagan to discuss uniting against an alien invasion when meeting Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985. Two years later, Reagan told the United Nations, “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world”.[19]

The Day the Earth Stood Still is now considered one of the best films released in 1951.[37][38] The Day the Earth Stood Still is in Arthur C. Clarke‘s list of the 12 best science fiction films of all time.[39] The film holds a 95% “Certified Fresh” rating at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 57 reviews, with an average rating of 8.10/10. The consensus states, “Socially minded yet entertaining, The Day the Earth Stood Still imparts its moral of peace and understanding without didacticism.”[40] Tony Magistrale describes the film as one of the best examples of early techno-horror.[41]

Klaatu barada nikto[edit]

Main article: Klaatu barada nikto

Since the release of the film, the phrase “Klaatu barada nikto” has appeared repeatedly in fiction and in popular culture. The Robot Hall of Fame described it as “one of the most famous commands in science fiction”,[42] while Frederick S. Clarke of Cinefantastique called it (in 1970) “the most famous phrase ever spoken by an extraterrestrial”.[43]

Patricia Neal had a problem speaking the phrase, though she was proud of the film overall. “I do think it’s the best science fiction film ever made, although I admit that I sometimes had a difficult time keeping a straight face. Michael would patiently watch me bite my lips to avoid giggling and ask, with true British reserve, ‘Is that the way you intend to play it?'”[44]

Edmund H. North, who wrote The Day the Earth Stood Still, also created the alien language used in the film, including the iconic phrase “Klaatu barada nikto”. The official spelling for the phrase comes directly from the script and provides insight as to its proper pronunciation. No translation was given in the film. Philosophy professor Aeon J. Skoble speculates the famous phrase is a “safe-word” which is part of a fail-safe feature used during diplomatic missions such as the one Klaatu and Gort make to Earth. With the use of the safe-word, Gort’s deadly force can be deactivated in the event the robot is mistakenly triggered into a defensive posture. Skoble observes that the theme has evolved into a “staple of science fiction that the machines charged with protecting us from ourselves will misuse or abuse their power”.[45]

Fantastic Films explored the meaning of “Klaatu barada nikto” in a 1978 article titled “The Language of Klaatu”. The article, written by Tauna Le Marbe, who is listed as its “alien linguistics editor”, attempts to translate all the alien words Klaatu used throughout the film.[46] In the article, the literal translation for Klaatu barada nikto was “Stop Barbarism (I have) death, bind” and the free translation was “I die, repair me, do not retaliate”.[46]

The documentary Decoding “Klaatu Barada Nikto”: Science Fiction as Metaphor examined the phrase “Klaatu barada nikto” with some of the people involved in the production of The Day the Earth Stood StillRobert Wise, the director of the film, conveyed an account of Edmund North telling him, “Well, it’s just something I kind of cooked up. I thought it sounded good”.[47] Billy Gray, who played Bobby Benson in the film, said he believed the message was coming from Klaatu and that “Barada Nikto must mean … save Earth.”[48]

Florence Blaustein, widow of the producer Julian Blaustein, said North had to pass a street called Baroda every day going to work and indicated “I think that’s how that was born.”[49] The film historian Steven Jay Rubin recalled an interview he had with North when he asked the question, “What is the direct translation of Klaatu Barada Nikto, and Edmund North said to me ‘There’s hope for Earth, if the scientists can be reached’.”[50]


The film was dramatized as a radio play on January 4, 1954 for the Lux Radio Theatre; Michael Rennie reprised his lead role as Klaatu with actress Jean Peters as Helen Benson.[51] This production was later re-broadcast on the Hollywood Radio Theater, the re-titled Lux Radio Theatre, which aired on the Armed Forces Radio Service.[52]

The film was remade in 2008. The director was Scott Derrickson and it stars Keanu Reeves as Klaatu. Rather than leaving to humans the chance to collaborate, the remake rests on Klaatu’s decision whether to let humanity be destroyed or saved.[53]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Patricia Neal, who played Helen Benson, was only 12 years older than Billy Gray, who played her son.
  2. ^ Actor Sam Jaffe, who played Professor Barnhardt, had an engineering degree and taught mathematics before turning to acting.[7]
  3. ^ “Rentals” refers to the distributor/studio’s share of the box office gross, which, according to Gebert, is roughly half of the money generated by ticket sales.[26]


  1. ^ The Day the Earth Stood Still (U)”British Board of Film Classification. September 20, 1951. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  2. ^ Solomon 1989, p. 246.
  3. ^ “The Top Box Office Hits of 1951”. Variety, January 2, 1952.
  4. ^ Gianos 1998 p. 23.
  5. ^ “‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’: Award Wins and Nominations.” Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  6. ^ “Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress”Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  7. ^ Flint, Peter B. “Sam Jaffe, a character actor on stage and film, dies at 93.” The New York Times, March 25, 1984.
  8. Jump up to:a b c “Making the Earth Stand Still LaserDisc (Fox Video; 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment): Julian Blaustein, Robert Wise, Patricia Neal, Billy Gray.” IMDb, 1995. Retrieved: 1 February 2015.
  9. ^ “Cult Movies Showcase ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’.” Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  10. ^ Shermer 2001, pp. 74–75.
  11. ^ Matthews 2007, p. 54.
  12. ^ Holloway and Beck 2005, p. 135.
  13. ^ Haspel, Paul. “Future Shock on the National Mall”. Journal of Popular Film & Television, Vol. 34, Issue 2, Summer 2006, pp. 62–71. ISSN 0195-6051.
  14. ^ “DVD: ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ Shooting Script.” Still Galleries, [Fox Video 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment]. Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  15. ^ Laffoley, Paul. “Disco Volante (1949: Hollywood –20th Century Fox, February 3)”. Archived May 6, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, March 14, 2021. Retrieved: May 6, 2021.
  16. ^ “Indoor exhibit. The Cold War: ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’.” Fort George G. Meade Museum. Retrieved: November 22, 2015.
  17. ^ “Original Print information: ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still'”. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  18. ^ Warren 1982, p. 621.
  19. Jump up to:a b c d e Hoberman, J. “The Cold War sci-fi parable that fell to earth.” The New York Times, September 31, 2008.
  20. ^ Wrobel, Bill. “Score analysis.” Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  21. ^ “Howard Goodall’s 20th Century Greats.” Channel 4, December 17, 2004.
  22. ^ “Oscar Roundtable: The composers.” The Hollywood Reporter, December 15, 2008.
  23. ^ Variety’s Complete Science Fiction Reviews. Ed. Donald Willis. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1985. p. 88-89. ISBN 0-8240-6263-9.
  24. ^ “‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal”. Harrison’s Reports: 142. September 8, 1951.
  25. ^ Crowther, Bosley (September 19, 1951). “THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; Emissary From Planet Visits Mayfair Theatre in ‘Day the Earth Stood Still'”The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  26. Jump up to:a b Gebert 1996, p. 156.
  27. ^ “‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’; Award Wins and Nominations”. Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  28. ^ “AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Thrills.” Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  29. ^ “AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Cheers.” Archived November 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  30. ^ “AFI’s 10 Top 10.” Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  31. ^ “AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies: Official Ballot”. Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  32. ^ “AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies (10th Anniversary): Official Ballot.” AFI. Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  33. ^ “AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Heroes and Villains: The 400 Nominated Characters”. Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  34. ^ “AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes: Official Ballot.” Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  35. ^ “AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores: Official Ballot.” Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  36. ^ “The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.” The New York Times, April 29, 2003.
  37. ^ “The Greatest Films of 1951.” AMC Retrieved: May 23, 2010.
  38. ^ “The Best Movies of 1951 by rank”., May 23, 2010.
  39. ^ Spry, Jeff (December 11, 2015). “Childhood’s End author Arthur C. Clarke’s Top 12 sci-fi movies”. SYFY. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  40. ^ “‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ Movie Reviews, Pictures”. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved: June 28, 2021.
  41. ^ Tony MagistraleAbject Terrors: Surveying the Modern and Postmodern Horror Film, 2005 p. 82
  42. ^ “2006 Inductees: Gort.” Archived April 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine The Robot Hall of Fame (Carnegie Mellon University), 2006. The Day the Earth Stood Still
  43. ^ Clarke, Frederick S. Cinefantastique, 1970, p. 2.
  44. ^ Neal, Patricia. As I Am: An AutobiographyISBN 9781451626001
  45. ^ Skoble 2007, p. 91.
  46. Jump up to:a b Le Marbe, Tauna. “The Language of Klaatu.” Fantastic Films, Issue 1, April 1978.
  47. ^ “DVD: Decoding “Klaatu Barada Nikto”: Science Fiction as Metaphor|time = 0:14:05.” Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, December 2, 2008.
  48. ^ “DVD: Decoding “Klaatu Barada Nikto”: Science Fiction as Metaphor|time = 0:14:20.” Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, December 2, 2008.
  49. ^ “DVD: Decoding “Klaatu Barada Nikto”: Science Fiction as Metaphor| time = 0:14:47.” Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, December 2, 2008.
  50. ^ “DVD: Decoding “Klaatu Barada Nikto”: Science Fiction as Metaphor|time = 0:14:55.” Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, December 2, 2008.
  51. ^ “Radio Highlights”The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (New York). January 4, 1954. p. 11. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  52. ^ “Notes: ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’.” Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: February 1, 2015.
  53. ^ Scott, A. O. (December 12, 2008). “It’s All Over, Earthlings (Don’t Flee to New Jersey) (Published 2008)”The New York TimesISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 14, 2021.


  • Gebert, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards (listing of ‘Box Office (Domestic Rentals)’ for 1951, taken from Variety magazine). New York: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 1996. ISBN 0-668-05308-9.
  • Gianos, Phillip L. Politics and Politicians in American Film. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998. ISBN 0-275-96071-4.
  • Holloway, David and John Beck. American Visual Cultures. London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005. ISBN 0-8264-6485-8.
  • Matthews, Melvin E.. Hostile Aliens, Hollywood and Today’s News: 1950s Science Fiction Films and 9/11. New York: Algora Publishing, 2007. ISBN 0-87586-497-X.
  • Shermer, MichaelThe Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-19-514326-4.
  • Skoble, Aeon J. “Technology and Ethics in The Day the Earth Stood Still”. in Sanders, Steven M. The Philosophy of Science Fiction Film. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2007. ISBN 0-8131-2472-7.
  • Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  • Warren, BillKeep Watching The Skies, American Science Fiction Movies of the 1950s, Vol I: 1950–1957. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1982. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
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The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008 film)

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The Day the Earth Stood Still
Theatrical release poster
Directed byScott Derrickson
Screenplay byDavid Scarpa
Based onThe Day the Earth Stood Still
by Edmund H. NorthFarewell to the Master
by Harry Bates
Produced byPaul Harris BoardmanGregory GoodmanErwin Stoff
StarringKeanu ReevesJennifer ConnellyJaden SmithJohn CleeseJon HammKathy Bates
CinematographyDavid Tattersall
Edited byWayne Wahrman
Music byTyler Bates
3 Arts EntertainmentDune Entertainment
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dateDecember 12, 2008
Running time103 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$80 million[2]
Box office$233.1 million[2]

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 2008 American science fiction drama film and a loose adaptation of the 1951 film of the same name. The screenplay by David Scarpa is based on the 1940 science fiction short story “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates and the 1951 screenplay adaptation by Edmund H. North.

Directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, this version replaces the Cold War theme of nuclear warfare with the contemporary issue of humankind’s environmental damage to the planet. It follows Klaatu, an alien sent to try to change human behavior or eradicate humans from Earth.

The film was originally scheduled for release on May 9, 2008, but was released on a roll-out schedule beginning December 12, 2008, screening in both conventional and IMAX theaters.[3][4] The critical reviews were mainly negative, and Rotten Tomatoes calls the film “heavy on special effects, but without a coherent story at its base”.[5] In its opening week, the film took the top spot at the U.S. box office and went on to gross over $233 million worldwide. The Day the Earth Stood Still was released on home video on April 7, 2009.



In 1928, a solitary mountaineer exploring the Karakoram mountains in India encounters a glowing sphere. He loses consciousness and when he wakes, the sphere has gone and there is a scar on his hand where a sample of his DNA has been taken.

In the present day, a rapidly moving object is detected beyond Jupiter‘s orbit and forecast to impact Manhattan. It is moving at 30,000 kilometers per second, fast enough that its impact would destroy all life on Earth. The United States government hastily assembles a group of scientists, including Helen Benson and her friend Michael Granier, to develop a survival plan.

The scientists travel to New York City to await for the object’s collision with Earth. As it nears the planet, the object slows down just before impact. Revealed to be a large spherical spaceship, it lands gently in Central Park and is quickly surrounded by NYPD and heavily armed US military forces. An alien emerges and Helen moves forward to greet it; but amidst the confusion, the alien is shot. A gigantic humanoid robot appears and temporarily disables everything in the vicinity by emitting a high pitched noise before the wounded alien voices the command “Klaatu barada nikto” to shut down the robot’s defensive response.

The alien’s exterior is found to be a bioengineered space suit, composed of placenta-like material covering a human-like being. After the bullet is extracted during surgery, the being quickly ages into Klaatu, who looks like the mountaineer from 1928. Klaatu informs Secretary of Defense Regina Jackson that he is a representative of a group of civilizations, sent to talk to the leaders of Earth about saving the planet. When Jackson instead sends him to be interrogated, Klaatu escapes and reconnects with Helen and her stepson, Jacob, telling them that he must finish his mission to “save the Earth”.

The presence of the sphere and other smaller spheres that begin to appear all over the world cause widespread panic. The military launches a drone attack on the Central Park sphere, but is thwarted by the robot. The military takes a weapons-free approach, cautiously enclosing the robot, soon nicknamed “GORT” (for Genetically Organized Robotic Technology), and transporting it to the Mount Weather underground facility in Virginia.

Klaatu meets with another alien, Mr. Wu, who has lived on Earth for 70 years. Wu tells Klaatu that he has found the human race to be destructive, stubborn and unwilling to change, which matches Klaatu’s experiences. Klaatu orders the smaller spheres to collect specimens of animal species, to preserve them for later reintroduction to the Earth. He clarifies for Helen that he means to save the Earth from destruction by humankind. When a New Jersey State Trooper attempts to take them into custody, Klaatu kills him and then promptly revives the officer, telling Helen and Jacob that he did this to simply disarm an obstacle to his mission.

Hoping to persuade Klaatu to change his mind about humanity, Helen takes him to the home of Professor Barnhardt, a Nobel Prize winner. They discuss how Klaatu’s race went through drastic, collaborative evolution to prevent the demise of their planet. Barnhardt pleads that Earth is at the same precipice, and humanity should be given a chance to understand that it too must change. While the adults are talking, Jacob calls the authorities to come and arrest Klaatu.

While the military is examining GORT, the robot transforms into a swarm of winged, insect-like, nano-machines that self-replicate as they consume every man-made object in their path. The swarm soon devours the entire facility, emerging above ground to continue feeding.

The military captures Helen while Klaatu and Jacob escape on foot. As they travel, Klaatu learns more about humanity through Jacob. When Jacob contacts Helen and arranges to meet at his father’s grave, the Secretary sends her to try to change Klaatu’s mind. At the grave, Jacob is heartbroken that Klaatu cannot resurrect his long-dead father. As Helen and Jacob have a tear-filled reunion, Klaatu’s cumulative observations of humans convince him to stop the swarm.

Granier drives them to the Central Park sphere, but the swarm has reached massive proportions. Klaatu trudges through the swarm to the sphere, touching it moments before his own body is consumed. The sphere deactivates the swarm, saving humanity, but at the expense of electrical activity on Earth, per Klaatu’s warning that there will be “a price to the [human] way of life.”[6] The giant sphere leaves the Earth.


  • Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, an alien messenger in human form. Reeves dislikes remakes, but was impressed by the script, which he deemed a reimagining. He enjoyed the original film as a child and became fonder of it as an adult when he understood how relevant it was.[7] Reeves acknowledged his Klaatu is “inverted” from the original, starting “sinister and tough” but becoming “more human,” whereas the original was “more human than human” before revealing his “big stick” in his ending speech.[8] He compared the remake’s Klaatu to the wrathful God who floods the world in the Old Testament, but is gentle and forgiving by the time of the New Testament.[9] He spent many weeks advising the script, trying to make Klaatu’s transition from alien in human form to one who appreciates their emotions and beliefs subtle and nuanced.[10] Derrickson, the director, said that although Reeves would not use actions “that are highly unusual or highly quirky,” he nevertheless “keeps you aware of the fact that this being you’re walking through this movie with is not a human being.”[11] At Reeves’ insistence, the line “Klaatu barada nikto” was added to the script after initially being omitted.[12] The line was recorded many times, and it was decided to combine two recordings: one where Reeves said it normally, and a reversed version where he said the line backwards, creating an “alien” effect.[13]
  • Jennifer Connelly as Helen Benson, an astrobiologist at Princeton University who is recruited by the government to study Klaatu. Connelly was Derrickson’s first choice for the part.[11] She is a fan of the original film and felt Patricia Neal‘s original portrayal of Helen was “fabulous,” but trusted the filmmakers with their reinterpretation of the story and of Helen, who was a secretary in the original.[12] Connelly emphasized that Helen is amazed when she meets Klaatu, as she never believed she would encounter a sentient alien like him after speculating on extraterrestrial life for so long.[10] Connelly was dedicated to understanding her scientific jargon, with Seth Shostak stating she did “everything short of writing a NASA grant application.”[14]
  • Jaden Smith as Jacob Benson, Helen’s eight-year old stepson. Jacob replaces the character of Bobby (Billy Gray) in the original, and his relationship with Helen was written as a microcosm of how Klaatu comes to see humanity—the alien sees their cold and distant relationship as normal human behavior, and their reconciliation forces him to change his mind. Smith said he found Jacob difficult to play because he felt the character “opposite” to his personality. Smith had met Reeves before on the set of The Matrix sequels, which featured his mother Jada Pinkett-Smith.[10]
  • John Cleese as Professor Karl Barnhardt, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who specializes in the evolutionary basis of altruism. Helen takes Klaatu to him to further change his mind. The role was the most difficult to cast, and eventually the filmmakers decided to approach Cleese, noting “Who would you rather make the argument [to Klaatu] for mankind than John Cleese?”[15] Stoff, a producer, had met Cleese a few times beforehand and had noted his intellect.[10] The actor was surprised the filmmakers were interested in him, and decided playing a dramatic role would be easier than to play a comedic one at his age. He was often reminded to speed up his dialogue so that Reeves would not appear in synchronicity with normal human speech patterns.[7] Cleese said he is not interested in extraterrestrial life because he often philosophizes about the purpose of life and why humans are distracted by trivial matters.[10] Cleese spoke about portraying abilities outside his own experience in the scene in which Klaatu corrects a complex mathematical formula Barnhardt has written on a blackboard: “The trouble is, I had to be able to write the equation, because Barnhardt has been working on it for 60 years. I learned to carefully copy things down that mean nothing to me at all. In A Fish Called Wanda, I spoke a lot of Russian without having any idea what it means.”[10] The crew enjoyed working with Cleese and were sad when he finished filming his part.[15]
  • Jon Hamm as Michael Granier, a NASA official who recruits Helen into his scientific team investigating Klaatu. Granier is fascinated by Klaatu, but is torn between his official obligation to detain the alien and protect his country.[10] Hamm acknowledged science fiction was a niche genre when the original film was made, and that it used science fiction to make topical issues more approachable. Hamm had the same feelings for this remake.[15] Originally, Hamm’s character was French and named Michel.[16] Although he is interested in math and science, Hamm found his technical dialogue difficult and had to film his lines repeatedly.[10]
  • Kathy Bates as Regina Jackson, the United States Secretary of Defense. Bates had only two weeks to film her scenes, so she often requested Derrickson act out her lines so she would directly understand his aims for her dialogue, rather than interpret vague directions.[10]
  • Kyle Chandler as John Driscoll
  • Robert Knepper as Colonel Addelman
  • James Hong as Mr. Wu
  • Brandon T. Jackson as Target Tech



In 1994, 20th Century Fox and Erwin Stoff had produced the successful Keanu Reeves film Speed. Stoff was at an office at the studio when he saw a poster for the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, which made him ponder a remake with Reeves as Klaatu.[17] By the time David Scarpa started writing a draft of the script in 2005,[18] Thomas Rothman was in charge of Fox and felt a responsibility to remake the film.[17] Scarpa felt everything about the original film was still relevant, but changed the allegory from nuclear war to environmental damage because “the specifics of [how] we now have the capability to destroy ourselves have changed.”[19] Scarpa noted the recent events of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 informed his mindset when writing the screenplay.[18] He scrapped Klaatu’s speech at the conclusion of the story because “audiences today are [un]willing to tolerate that. People don’t want to be preached to about the environment. We tried to avoid having our alien looking out over the garbage in the lake and crying a silent tear [from the 1970s Keep America Beautiful ads].”[20]

Director Scott Derrickson admired the original film’s director Robert Wise, whom he met as a film student.[19] He generally dislikes remakes, but he enjoyed the script, which he decided was a retelling of the story and not a true remake.[21] He also explained that The Day the Earth Stood Still is not a widely seen classic film, unlike The Wizard of Oz, which he would not bother remaking.[18] Derrickson’s benchmark was Philip Kaufman‘s 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Klaatu was made more menacing than in the original, because the director felt he had to symbolize the more complex era of the 2000s.[22] There was debate over whether to have Klaatu land in Washington, D.C., as in the original; but Derrickson chose New York City because he liked the geometry of Klaatu’s sphere landing in Central Park.[23] Derrickson also did not write in Gort’s original backstory, which was already absent from the script he read. He already thought the script was a good adaptation and didn’t want the negative connotations of fascism from the original film.[24]

Astronomer Seth Shostak served as scientific consultant on the film, reviewed the script several times for errors, gave suggestions for making the scientists appear less dry, and noted that they would refer to one another on a first-name basis. He said, “Real scientists don’t describe an object entering the solar system as ‘notable for the fact that it was not moving in an asteroidal ellipse, but moving at nearly three times ten to the seventh meters per second.’ More likely, they would say that there was ‘a goddamned rock headed our way!'”[25]


Filming took place from December 12, 2007, to March 19, 2008, at Vancouver Film Studios,[23][26] Vancouver ForumDeer LakeJericho Park, and Simon Fraser University.[27] The film was originally scheduled for release on May 9, 2008, but it was delayed until December 12, 2008, because filming commenced later than scheduled.[28] By the time preproduction had started, Scarpa had written 40 drafts of the script.[18] The film was mostly shot on sets because it was winter in Vancouver.[19]

Derrickson was fascinated by color schemes. He chose blue-green and orange as the primary colors for The Day the Earth Stood Still. The missile silo converted by the military for experimenting on Gort emphasized gray and orange, which was inspired by an image of lava flowing through a gray field. Derrickson opted to shoot on traditional film, and rendered the colors in post-production to make them more subtle, for realism.[19]

To film Barnhardt and Klaatu writing equations on a blackboard, general relativity sums were drawn by Marco Peloso from the University of Minnesota and William Hiscock of Montana State University in faint pencil marks. Keanu Reeves and John Cleese drew over these in chalk.[25]

As Fox had a mandate to become a carbon neutral company by 2011, The Day the Earth Stood Still‘s production had an environmentally friendly regimen. “Whether it was because of this movie thematically or it was an accident of time, there were certain things production-wise we’ve been doing and been asked to do and so on,” said Erwin Stoff.[17] To prevent the wasting of paper, concept art, location stills and costume tests were posted on a website created by the production for crew members to reference. Costumes were kept for future Fox productions or given to homeless shelters, rather than thrown away. Hybrid vehicles were used and crew members had orders to turn off their car engines if they sat in their vehicles for more than three minutes.[19]


The redesigned Gort and, behind him, the new biological spaceship resembling an orb

Weta Digital created the majority of the effects, with additional work by Cinesite and Flash Film Works. The machines of Klaatu’s people have a biological basis rather than a mechanical one, as Derrickson theorized that their mastery of ecology would demonstrate their level of sophistication.[19] Derrickson deemed a modern audience would find the original’s flying saucer amusingly obsolete and unique to the original’s milieu.[23] The director also noted that the original The Day the Earth Stood Still had influenced many films, so his technicians needed to bring new ideas to the remake.[17]

The effects team approached the new spacecraft’s design as inter-dimensional portals resembling orbs. The script had specified the inside of the orbs as a “white limbo-y thing”, but visual-effects consultant Jeff Okun explained this was deleted for being too “cheesy”.[23] Derrickson felt not showing the inside of the ship, unlike the original, would make the audience more curious.[19] As well as computer-generated spheres—such as Klaatu’s 300-foot (91 m) ship, or a 3,000-foot-tall (910 m) orb that rises from the sea—700-pound (320 kg) spheres, 9 feet (2.7 m) in diameter, were sculpted by Custom Plastics, which built spheres for Disney theme parks. The spheres were split in two to make transportation easier. It was difficult placing lights inside them without making them melt. The visual-effects team looked at natural objects, including water droplets and the surfaces of Jupiter and Saturn for the spheres’ texture.[19]

Derrickson emphasized a Trinity-like relationship between the sphere, Klaatu, and Gort.[17] Klaatu is initially depicted as a radiant focus of sentient light. He is then depicted as a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) gray “walking womb” shape which finally takes on a completely human appearance. The filmmakers conceived the transitional form because they pondered the idea of humans mistaking space suits for alien skin. Computer-generated imagery and practical effects achieved the transformation.[19] Todd Masters (Slither) directed the creation of the alien form, using thermal plastic and silicone.[23]

The script described Gort as nanotechnology by the time the director signed on, although it did not specify Gort’s appearance.[29] The 15th draft of the script[18] had depicted the robot as a four-legged “Totem” that stands upright after firing its weapon beam.[30] Okun explained there were many more “horrific” or “amazing” concepts, but it made sense that the robot would assume a familiar human shape. He cited the Monolith from the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey as an inspiration for Gort’s texture, noting “it’s a simple shape, it has no emotion […] it just simply is”,[21] which makes Gort more frightening because the audience cannot tell what he is thinking. The animators estimated the computer-generated robot as 28 feet (8.5 m) tall, whereas in the original he was played by the 7-foot-7-inch-tall (2.31 m) Lock Martin.[19] Gort’s computer model was programmed to reflect light, and the filmmakers spent time on motion-capture sessions to guide the performance. An actor wore weights on his hands and feet, allowing the animators to bring a sense of weight and power to Gort.[19] His destructive capabilities were based on locust swarms, although the idea of metal-eating insects goes back to Stephen Vincent Benét‘s 1933 poem “Metropolitan Nightmare”.[18]


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Further information: The Day the Earth Stood Still (soundtrack) § Remake soundtrack

The Day the Earth Stood Still: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Tyler Bates
ReleasedDecember 16, 2008
LabelVarèse Sarabande

The Day the Earth Stood Still: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was orchestrated and conducted by Timothy WilliamsTyler Bates was brought in to compose the score for The Day the Earth Stood Still after Derrickson heard his work on The Devil’s Rejects and Slither. Instead of imitating the original score by Bernard Herrmann, Bates decided to try to convey the updated message of the new film,[citation needed] and he assumed that most people would not even realize it was a remake.[citation needed] Bates said,[citation needed] “People revere an original property and feel that it’s sacred, but frankly, there’s a good story to be retold, as it applies to the climate of the world now. If that’s something beyond the scope of a person’s ability to take in, on a new level, without necessarily using the original as a criterion for whether or not they’re going to enjoy it, then they probably shouldn’t bother themselves with it.” The origins for the sound on the new score came from Bates attending the filming of a few scenes with Reeves and Smith. When he got back to Los Angeles, he created a sound loop on his GuitarViol to which Derrickson responded, “I think that’s the score!”, when it was played for him.[31] Bates utilized the theremin, which Herrmann heavily used for the original film’s score. Bates and the theremin player he hired used the instrument in a manner reminiscent of a sound effect, especially during Klaatu’s surgery.[32] A short segment from Bach’s Goldberg Variations is heard playing in the background of the Professor’s home when Klaatu visits the Professor which was not included in the film’s accompanying soundtrack release.[33][34]


Before its release, The Day the Earth Stood Still was nominated for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound at the 2008 Satellite Awards.[35] On the film’s December 12, 2008 release, the Deep Space Communications Network at Cape Canaveral was to transmit the film to Alpha Centauri.[3]


Critical response[edit]

Keanu Reeves and Scott Derrickson on film promotion in Mexico. December 12, 2008.

On Metacritic, the film has a score of 40 out of 100 based on reviews from 34 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.[36] Based on 194 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, only 21% of them were positive. The majority found the film “heavy on special effects, but without a coherent story at its base, [the film] is a subpar re-imagining of the 1951 science-fiction classic.”[5] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “C–” on an A+ to F scale.[37] Bruce Paterson of the Australian Film Critics Association gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, writing that the generally poor reception for the film was “a sad fate for a surprisingly sincere tribute to Robert Wise’s 1951 classic.”[38] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times ‘congratulated’ Keanu Reeves’s performance and wrote in his review that “This contemporary remake of the science-fiction classic knew what it was doing when it cast Keanu Reeves, the movies’ greatest stone face since Buster Keaton.”[39]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times was not impressed with Reeves’ performance, commenting that “even Klaatu looks bored and distracted, much as he did back when we knew him as Neo.”[40] William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer gave the film a B minus and wrote, “It’s a decent enough stab at being what the old movie was to its time, following the same basic plot, full of respectful references to its model, updated with a gallery of fairly imaginative special effects.”[41] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two stars and noted that the film had “taken its title so seriously that the plot stands still along with it”, but also stated that it was “an expensive, good-looking film that is well-made by Scott Derrickson”.[42]


At the 2009 Razzie Awards, the film was nominated for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel, but lost the award to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.[43] The film was nominated in the category of “Best Single Visual Effect of the Year” at the 7th Visual Effects Society Awards but lost to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.[44] The film was also nominated for Best Science Fiction Film at the Saturn Awards and Jaden Smith won Best Performance by a Younger Actor.

Box office[edit]

The Day the Earth Stood Still opened in North America on December 12, 2008. During that opening weekend, and despite poor response from critics, the film reached the number 1 spot, grossing $30,480,153 from 3,560 theaters with an $8,562 average per theater.[2] Out of the film’s opening weekend income, 12% was from IMAX; it was “the highest IMAX share yet for a two-dimensional title”.[45] In 2008, it was the 27th-highest-grossing film during its opening weekend but 40th for the entire year. The Day the Earth Stood Still was able to stay in the top 10 for its first four weeks in theaters.[46] The film ended up grossing $79,366,978 domestically and $153,726,881 in foreign markets, a total of $233,093,859.[2]

Home media[edit]

The Day the Earth Stood Still was released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 7, 2009, almost four months after its release and only five days after its theater run ended. Bonus features include commentary with Scarpa along with a picture-in-picture showing the special effects footage, concept art, and photos. It also includes several featurettes: “Build Your Own Gort”, “Re-Imagining The Day”, “Unleashing Gort”, “Watching the Skies: In Search of Extraterrestrial Life”, and “The Day the Earth was Green.” Also included were three still galleries and the film’s trailer. Packaged with the film on a separate disc, is the original 1951 film. The Blu-ray release features a D-BOX motion code.[47]

According to data by Home Media Magazine, it came in first for rentals during its first and second weeks.[2] For the first week of its release it was ranked first in Blu-ray sales, and second on the regular DVD sales chart, behind Bedtime Stories, totaling $14,650,377 (not including Blu-ray).[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Day the Earth Stood Still (12A)”British Board of Film Classification. November 19, 2008. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d e “The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)”Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 20, 2009.
  3. Jump up to:a b “20th Century Fox Stops the World to Beam The Day The Earth Stood Still into Deep Space” (Press release). MarketWatch. December 9, 2008. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
  4. ^ “The Day the Earth Stood Still: The IMAX Experience”. December 9, 2008. Archived from the original (Website announcement) on December 5, 2008. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
  5. Jump up to:a b “The Day the Earth Stood Still”Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  6. ^ David Scarpa (2009). The Day the Earth Stood Still (DVD). 20th Century Fox. Writer’s DVD commentary
  7. Jump up to:a b Damon Wise (December 2008). “Keanu Barada Nikto”. Empire. pp. 143–149.
  8. ^ Dennis Lim (December 7, 2008). “Keanu Reeves’ freaky flights of fancy”Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
  9. ^ Steve Biodrowsk (December 6, 2008). “Day the Earth Stood Still – Preview”Cinefantastique. Retrieved December 8, 2008.
  10. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i “Production notes” (PDF). 20th Century Fox. Retrieved November 21, 2008.
  11. Jump up to:a b Shawn Adler (July 4, 2008). “‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ Trailer Is Here!”MTV Movies Blog. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  12. Jump up to:a b Cindy White (November 17, 2008). “On Set: Day The Earth Stood Still”SCI FI Wire. Archived from the original on July 28, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2008.
  13. ^ “Q&A: More Earth Spoilers”SCI FI Wire. December 10, 2008. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved December 10, 2008. Alt URL
  14. ^ Seth Shostak (December 8, 2008). “On the Set of The Day the Earth Stood StillLiveScienceImaginova. Retrieved December 8, 2008.
  15. Jump up to:a b c Ryan Rotten (November 17, 2008). “The Day the Earth Stood Still Set Visit Q & A” Retrieved November 17, 2008.
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Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008 film)
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