AFI Challenge: 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'

So... we may have lied. The first movie we watched as part of our AFI Challenge was not Gone With the Wind. (That was pushed back to this weekend due to Netflix difficulties.) Instead, we watched The Day the Earth Stood Still, director Robert Wise's 1951 sci-fi classic.

Klaatu struggling to shine a light on the world

Back in the day the film won a Golden Globe for Best Film Promoting International Understanding (apparently this award was a thing between 1945 and 1963). The Globe win should come as no surprise to those who've watched the film; from very early on it's clear this is a message movie, and that message is peace.

The film wastes no time getting to the action: a mysterious man from another planet lands in Washington, D.C. in order, we soon learn, to give earthlings an ultimatum. As it turns out, the interstellar community has been monitoring their radio transmissions, and it's clear they've become a threat not only to themselves but to the universe beyond. The only course of action? Nonviolence.

You can imagine the typical American's reaction to this concept. It's a nonstarter, to say the least.

Despite its straightforward premise and beat-the-audience-over-the-head political message, The Day the Earth Stood Still succeeds as pure entertainment. Striking cinematography, a vibrant score, and solid performances from the leads, including child actor Billy Gray, conspire to make this one hell of a watchable movie.

CineMunch grade: B/B+

BONUS! Are you still using Firefox? (You should be. None of this Chrome business.) When you're done watching the movie, open a new Firefox tab and type "about:robots" in the address bar. Then look at the title of the tab. Cool, right?