Discussion:
The Day the Earth Stood Still
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Chuck Rhode
2009-08-21 06:17:51 UTC
Permalink
... wherein I discourse without portfolio upon cinema and Nordic
literature ....

You see -- Russian folk tales aren't all that great. They have form
but no particular point to make except to scare the bejesus out of
children. Icelandic sagas OTOH "have their languors," but focus
ultimately on how to achieve payback such as personal revenge and/or
divine retribution. I'd sooner Wagner than Tolstoy any day.

The cafeteria in Wright Quadrangle dormitory on the Bloomington campus
of Indiana University was built to Cold-War scale. The idea was that
everyone could eat simultaneously. Newer dorms had much more modest
and intimate food-service accommodations. For example, at Reed
Center, unless you were in line twenty minutes early, waiting for the
cafeteria to open, you would not be served before they ran out of
food, and you likely would find yourself in line an hour and a half
after that, still waiting for enough to be prepared to go around.
This never seemed to be a problem at Wright.

I want you to have the mental picture of the vast interior space that
was the cafeteria at Wright (complete with atomic-age murals and an
incised snippet from Shakespeare: "Neither a borrower nor a lender
be....") in stainless, tan, and gray, paved with asphalt tiles. This
is where I saw _The Day the Earth Stood Still_ -- I think.

In those days Wright Quad was coed, but not in 50/50 proportions. In
fact it was 75% men, and Student Government funded and took very
seriously their film series as a pretext for inviting women to visit
from other dorms. Later one wing of Reed was swapped for one wing of
Wright, and latrines retrofitted at great expense in both buildings to
equalize sex ratios. I was one of the Deportees. The film series at
Wright was a casualty because it was taken no more seriously
thereafter than film series in other dorms, which had no such
impressive venue.

_The Day the Earth Stood Still_ was released in the year of my birth,
so its production values were ancient by the time I viewed the movie.
Actually, I may have seen it in Woodburn Hall 101 -- the lecture hall
with the Thomas Hart Benton paintings -- where I audited a
film-appreciation course with my old girlfriend.

I've recently reviewed the plot synopsis at Wikipedia:

o http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_the_Earth_Stood_Still_(1951_film)

I find I don't remember anything much about the film. Perhaps I slept
through most of it. No matter! Essentially its story is this: Earth
is invaded by Fascists from Outer Space who are concerned about
Mankind's acquisition of atomic power and are determined to rub out
all sentient life on the planet. Curiously, they relent after they
become convinced that the United Nations will act to prevent further
conflicts. Klaatu, the alien, is obviously a Vishnu-like
destroyer/redeemer character. (The screen writers are on record as
describing the character as Christ-like.) Thus, _The Day the Earth
Stood Still_ is outside the main sequence of secular literature in
that *nothing happens* (Hence the title I suppose.) -- no payback, no
revenge, no retribution, no character development at all unless you
count the realization on the part of aliens that, "Hey, human beings
aren't so bad after all!" And for this the film is appreciated by
many people -- more than by me -- as being more or less unique and,
therefore, entitled to a place prominent in the scifi/fantasy canon.

I think you can make the case that it's not secular at all and that
people are drawn to it for its religious overtones.

I may even have seen the film once on late Friday-night TV in the days
before MST3K as the early offering of a weekly double-feature hosted
by Sammy Terry, a self-proclaimed horror comedian of the type that
apparently still abound locally, and his sidekick Her, broadcast from
Terre Haute, IN. I would have watched the film (in B&W) tediously
interrupted with commercials on a badly malfunctioning 19" color set
in the clammy rec-room of one of the dorm units at the Graduate
Residence Center at Bloomington, which would then explain why I retain
no eidetic impression of it.

The impression I do have is it's merely outside the main sequence of
Nordic literature -- and I may say Western Literature with a capital
"L." You see -- there's a problem with plays and stories that don't
involve payback, revenge, and retribution: The audience won't get the
point, which is fine for children who will be thrilled anyway, but it
won't do for adolescents questioning society's fundamental values.

I turn now to Keanu Reeves' portrayal of Klaatu in the 2008 remake of
_The Day the Earth Stood Still_. I just rented the DVD. I agree with
one reviewer's assessment that Reeves is the greatest stone face since
Buster Keaton, which is no faint praise.

In the new version, which is after all a semi-faithful adaptation of
the original, the Fascists from Outer Space invade to save the
Earth -- literally from anthropogenic Global Warming -- and, if that
means exterminating the Human Race, so be it! Once again, of course,
they relent, and *nothing happens* unless you count the total
destruction of the world's industrial infrastructure from which most
people will die anyway but not until after the end of the story.

You see -- as much as this remake begged to be written, and performed,
and distributed to update its special effects and cultural
sensitivities, we still haven't achieved a revelation qualitatively
different from that the original conveyed. This is a religious story
embarked upon a shifting relativism, and its anchor is in belief. I
OTOH find stories (like _Eric the Viking_) about transcending payback,
revenge, and retribution much more practical. I guess I just don't
get the point.
--
.. Be Seeing You,
.. Chuck Rhode, Sheboygan, WI, USA
.. Weather: http://LacusVeris.com/WX
.. 63° — Wind SW 9 mph
Stupendous Man
2009-08-21 07:44:26 UTC
Permalink
_ I agree with
one reviewer's assessment that Reeves is the greatest stone face since
Buster Keaton, which is no faint praise.
Don't forget Peter Graves. I heard that he loved to do accents, but they all
sounded Swedish.
Chuck Rhode
2009-08-21 14:11:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stupendous Man
Don't forget Peter Graves. I heard that he loved to do accents, but
they all sounded Swedish.
Who else but James Arness' brother IRL could have delivered:

o "This is Captain Clarence Oveur. Over."

... with a straight face?
--
.. Be Seeing You,
.. Chuck Rhode, Sheboygan, WI, USA
.. Weather: http://LacusVeris.com/WX
..
mayner
2009-08-22 08:13:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chuck Rhode
Post by Stupendous Man
Don't forget Peter Graves. I heard that he loved to do accents, but
they all sounded Swedish.
o "This is Captain Clarence Oveur. Over."
... with a straight face?
--
.. Be Seeing You,
.. Chuck Rhode, Sheboygan, WI, USA
.. Weather: http://LacusVeris.com/WX
..
Or:

"Ever seen a grown man naked?"
Chuck Rhode
2009-08-22 15:33:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by mayner
Post by Chuck Rhode
Post by Stupendous Man
Don't forget Peter Graves. I heard that he loved to do accents, but
they all sounded Swedish.
o "This is Captain Clarence Oveur. Over."
... with a straight face?
--
.. Be Seeing You,
.. Chuck Rhode, Sheboygan, WI, USA
.. Weather: http://LacusVeris.com/WX ..
"Ever seen a grown man naked?"
"Joey, have you ever been in a... in a Turkish prison?"
--
.. Be Seeing You,
.. Chuck Rhode, Sheboygan, WI, USA
.. Weather: http://LacusVeris.com/WX
.. 60° — Wind NNW 7 mph — Sky overcast.
Schiffner
2009-08-23 00:56:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chuck Rhode
Post by mayner
Post by Stupendous Man
Don't forget Peter Graves. I heard that he loved to do accents, but
they all sounded Swedish.
o  "This is Captain Clarence Oveur.  Over."
... with a straight face?
--
.. Be Seeing You,
.. Chuck Rhode, Sheboygan, WI, USA
.. Weather:  http://LacusVeris.com/WX..
"Ever seen a grown man naked?"
"Joey, have you ever been in a... in a Turkish prison?"
Ever watched a gladiator movie joey?

mayner
2009-08-22 08:12:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Stupendous Man
_ I agree with
one reviewer's assessment that Reeves is the greatest stone face since
Buster Keaton, which is no faint praise.
Don't forget Peter Graves. I heard that he loved to do accents, but they
all sounded Swedish.
The Beginning of the End?

Those giant grasshoppers scared the living shit outta me. I saw that movie
when I was 4 or 5. Couldn't walk into a darkroom without first reaching
around and flicking on the light for months. :-)
Eiron
2009-08-21 10:06:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chuck Rhode
The impression I do have is it's merely outside the main sequence of
Nordic literature -- and I may say Western Literature with a capital
"L."
It's a version of the New Testament. How's that outside western literature?
--
Eiron.
Chuck Rhode
2009-08-21 14:16:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eiron
Post by Chuck Rhode
The impression I do have is it's merely outside the main sequence of
Nordic literature -- and I may say Western Literature with a capital
"L."
It's a version of the New Testament. How's that outside western literature?
Well, we claim it through St. Paul, yes.

I think it's a little more difficult to make the new _Day_ fit the
paradigm, however.
--
.. Be Seeing You,
.. Chuck Rhode, Sheboygan, WI, USA
.. Weather: http://LacusVeris.com/WX
..
Henry
2009-08-21 14:39:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chuck Rhode
You see -- as much as this remake begged to be written, and performed,
and distributed to update its special effects and cultural
sensitivities, we still haven't achieved a revelation qualitatively
different from that the original conveyed. This is a religious story
embarked upon a shifting relativism, and its anchor is in belief. I
OTOH find stories (like _Eric the Viking_) about transcending payback,
revenge, and retribution much more practical. I guess I just don't
get the point.
Well written and deep. Maybe the point was just to make
money and entertain people...
--
http://911research.wtc7.net
http://www.journalof911studies.com/
http://www.ae911truth.org
Tim M.
2009-08-21 15:09:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chuck Rhode
... wherein I discourse without portfolio upon cinema and Nordic
literature ....
(SuperSnip tm)

Chuck, for the first time ever, I found NOT being drunk to be a
*handicap* while reading a reeky submission.

Surely a first.

Cheers.

Tim
Chuck Rhode
2009-08-21 16:34:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tim M.
Chuck, for the first time ever, I found NOT being drunk to be a
*handicap* while reading a reeky submission.
Sorry! ;-)
--
.. Be Seeing You,
.. Chuck Rhode, Sheboygan, WI, USA
.. Weather: http://LacusVeris.com/WX
.. 64° — Wind WNW 12 mph — Sky mostly cloudy.
Beav
2009-08-21 22:23:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chuck Rhode
You see -- as much as this remake begged to be written, and performed,
and distributed to update its special effects and cultural
sensitivities, we still haven't achieved a revelation qualitatively
different from that the original conveyed. This is a religious story
embarked upon a shifting relativism, and its anchor is in belief. I
OTOH find stories (like _Eric the Viking_) about transcending payback,
revenge, and retribution much more practical. I guess I just don't
get the point.
I saw the film and wanted my money back. And I hadn't even paid for the
ticket.
--
Beav

VN 750
Zed 1000
OMF# 19
Schiffner
2009-08-21 22:36:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Beav
Post by Chuck Rhode
You see -- as much as this remake begged to be written, and performed,
and distributed to update its special effects and cultural
sensitivities, we still haven't achieved a revelation qualitatively
different from that the original conveyed.  This is a religious story
embarked upon a shifting relativism, and its anchor is in belief.  I
OTOH find stories (like _Eric the Viking_) about transcending payback,
revenge, and retribution much more practical.  I guess I just don't
get the point.
I saw the film and wanted my money back. And I hadn't even paid for the
ticket.
IOW no better than the original. Saw the original, still think it
sucked the ass of a dead hippo.
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