The Day the Earth Stood Still: you remember seeing The Day the Earth Stood Still in your youth


1951’s seminal The Day the Earth Stood Still had a major impact on atomic-era sci-fi and pop culture. A nuclear-age warning to the people of Earth, it was based on “Farewell to the Master,” the Harry Bates story concerning Klaatu, an alien who arrives on Earth with his robot Gort in a flying saucer from the far beyond.

The arrival of the UFO in front of the White House in Washington D.C. raises an international ruckus. The press, the military, and the merely curious approach the craft, and after a period of tense waiting Klaatu, who looks entirely human, and the big robot emerge. Klaatu vows that “We have come to visit you in peace and with good will,” but when a scared soldier shoots and wounds Klaatu the robot, Gort, counterattacks with a weapon that disintegrates all the military hardware trained on the newcomers.

Klaatu gets Gort under control and goes with the brass to a military hospital. There he requests an audience with all Earth’s national leaders, for whom he bears an important message. But politics intrude, and Klaatu ends up on the run. Pretending to be a human, he adopts the name Mr. Carpenter and ends up at the gentle young widow Helen Benson’s boarding house. Klaatu hears, and learns, from Helen and her son Bobby that humanity isn’t totally devoid of positive impulses and common sense. But he still must deliver is message.