Saturday, February 23, 2008

"They didn't approve of our message of peace, I guess"

One of my favorite movies is the old 1950s classic The Day the Earth Stood Still, about a spacecraft that lands on the mall in D.C., and all panic ensues from this attempted alien communication. No one quite knows what to do, particularly when the wounded martian escapes from the hospital and, because he looks just like us, blends in to society unnoticed. However, the reason he has come is to spread a message of peace and to warn us that if we try to spread our wars farther than earth, we will be destroyed. 

As a child, this movie was intriguing because it was fun and entertaining. Now however, when I watch this film, I'm led under the surface to a deeper meaning.
The film's director, Darryl F. Zanuck "led Hollywood filmmakers in embracing edgy, courageous subject matter" and with "the Cold War in full swing...tensions arose when ever patriotism seemed in question at that time." 

"When they sought to obtain military equipment from the War Department, the producers were told that the Washington bureau had rejected the script and no equipment would be supplied. 'Everything we had...came from the National Guard of Virginia, not the War Department. They didn't approve of our message of peace, I guess'." - Twentieth Century - Fox

Peace is such a difficult thing to retain. Why are we always at war, for one reason or another?

The film's "message of peace" is well illustrated in a particular scene when the alien emissary, Klaatu takes little Bobby out for a day of fun around D.C. They stop at Arlington Cemetery where Bobby's fallen father lies. Klaatu looks around in disbelief at the graves sprawling among acres and acres of land. He asks Bobby, "How did all these people die?" Bobby responds, "Why, from the war. Haven't you ever heard of the Arlington Cemetery?" Klaatu tells Bobby that where he comes from, they don't have wars like those of planet Earth. 

Really, what is so addicting about war? And what must this planet look like from a foreign point of view? It's difficult to conjecture, because we are so used to this place of turmoil and disagreement. Surely, disagreement exists universally, but the way we deal with disagreement is the problem. Are we on a one way path to self-destruction? Sometimes it feels like it, as we constantly crave more, more, more. We want to be perfect, disease free, flawless. Yet in the attempt, we are destroying ourselves, our neighbors and our relationships therein. 
I wish that Klaatu and his buddy Gort really would come to earth so we could see we are not all around which the universe revolves. 

Anyways, if you haven't seen the film, come on over and I'll put it on for you! :)

P.S. a remake will be released Dec 2008. That should be interesting. 


CC said...

yea i like this movie too! that's kinda weird they're doing a remake.

Beatrix Kiddo said...

You're a good writer. I like your insights.

Russell said...

Did you take my copy of this movie?


Abby said...

no, you only had some cruddy vhs. i got it on dvd. :)