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The Day the Earth Stood Still (Special Edition - 1951) - Blu-ray DVD / comedy DVD / comic action DVD review
Rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 stars
Actors: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray, Frances Bavier
Director: Robert Wise Distributor: 20th Century Fox
DVD release: 02 December 2008 Runtime: 92 min.
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Full Screen, Special Edition, Subtitled, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, 1.33:1 aspect ration, Audio tracks (English - 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, Mono; Dolby Digital 5. 1 - French, Spanish), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin), Exclusive First Look @ The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008), Commentaries (Robert Wise, Nicholas Meyer: film & music historians John Morgan, Steven Smith, William Stromberg, Nick Redman), Isolated Score Track, The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin, Main title live performance By Peter Pringle, The Making of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Decoding “Klaatu Barada Nikto”: Science Fiction as Metaphor, A Brief History of Flying Saucers, The Astounding Harry Bates, Edmund North: The Man Who Made the Earth Stand Still, Race To Oblivion (documentary short), Farewell To The Master (reading of original Harry Bates short story - audio only), Interactive Pressbook, Fox Movietonews from 1951, Original theatrical & teaser Trailers, Advertising gallery, Behind-the-scenes gallery, Portrait gallery, Production gallery, Spaceship construction blueprints, Shooting script, Interactive Theremin: Create Your Own Score (BD), Gort Command! interactive game (BD)

At the height of the Cold War, a flying saucer lands in Washington D.C. Out steps a seven-foot-tall robot. The army gathers around, as do the citizens of D.C. What could these visitors want? Is it the beginning of an invasion?

A humanoid being emerges wearing a silver jumpsuit and something like an acid-etched lamp globe on his head. He pulls some sort of device out of his jumpsuit. The army is tense, not knowing what to expect. The alien is Klaatu (Michael Rennie), and when he flips a switch on the device, a soldier reacts instinctively and shoots Klaatu, also destroying the device (actually a communication device to be given as a gift to the president). The robot comes to life, his visor opens, and all the army's weapons are melted.

The army detains Klaatu and hopes to keep him. Klaatu wants only to speak to the leaders of the world. He's got an important message to be shared only with them all. When he discovers that the leaders of the world are reluctant to meet in a single location, Klaatu decides to move among the citizens of Earth as one of them. He finds a room in a boarding house with several interesting characters, and is able to listen to their views on his arrival without them knowing who he is. He calls himself Mr. Carpenter. Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and her son, Bobby (Billy Gray), are especially friendly to him, and Bobby even shows him around the city. Bobby helps him decide that perhaps he should meet with the scientific leaders of the world. The top dog, an Einstein-like fellow named Professor Jacob Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe), agrees to help. In the end, it's a race against time to get the message delivered to a suspicious planet full of people who are quick to violence.

It's been fifty-seven years since the original The Day the Earth Stood Still came out, and I wonder if we can say that we're less suspicious or less quick to violence. The film is a classic of sci-fi, featuring one of the most iconic robots of all time. Gort was played by Lock Martin, a doorman at Grauman's Chinese Theatre who was 7' 7" tall. The soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann features the distinctive sound of the theremin, an electronic instrument that produces eerie warbling sounds without the musician actually touching it (really!). From this point forward, it exemplifies science fiction of the 1950s. Robert Wise directed this classic, adding science fiction to the genre list of his diverse film creations. Most well-known for his work on West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Wise provides commentary with Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer.

Extra features include an interactive theremin (a BD feature exclusive to Blu-ray, as is the Gort Command! interactive game), a short feature on the instrument's history, a making-of featurette, the history of flying saucers, and features on the director and writer Harry Bates. It's jam-packed with the kind of stuff that will thrill fans of the genre and sate most appetites for background information on The Day the Earth Stood Still. Hard to go wrong with this one.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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