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Klaatu Gort Redux

by Michael Shermer, Dec 16 2008

The remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still delivers a modern warning wrapped in an ancient myth

Klaatu is back and he’s badder than before, with Gort the robot four times the size of the original and a new message for humans to straighten up and save the environment … or else.

The remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still closely parallels Robert Wise’s 1951 science fiction film classic that was a Cold War warning shrouded in a Christ allegory. In the original screenplay by Edmund H. North, an alien ambassador named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) arrives in Washington D.C. in his flying saucer-shaped spaceship (following the UFO convention of the time) with an eight-foot humanoid robot named Gort (played by the 7-foot, 7-inch Lock Martin, who was working as a doorman at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood at the time). Trigger-happy soldiers shoot Klaatu and whisk him away to a government facility from which he subsequently escapes and disappears into the city, walking among the common people and eventually taking up residence in the home of single mom Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) under the assumed name Mr. Carpenter (to reinforce the allegory for those who are hard of biblical hearing).

Klaatu's (Keanu Reeves) arrival on Earth via a giant sphere, triggers a global upheaval (photo credit: WETA, copyright 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Klaatu’s (Keanu Reeves) arrival on Earth via a giant sphere, triggers a global upheaval
(photo credit: WETA, © 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Having failed to gain access to the United Nations where he hoped to spread the word of peace and to warn the Earthlings of their impending threat to neighboring planetary civilizations now that the deadly combination of nuclear weapons and spaceflight had been achieved, Klaatu meets with Professor Barnhardt, an Einsteinesque figure who is working on an exceedingly difficult problem in physics that Klaatu helps him solve (like Jesus lecturing the rabbis in the temple). Impressed but still skeptical, the doubting Thomas Professor Barnhardt demands proof of his interlocutor’s divine power, which Klaatu delivers henceforth by causing civilization to stand still for an hour through the cessation of all electrical transmissions. As Barnhardt scrambles to gather together the world’s greatest minds for a meeting with Klaatu, military goons once again show the darker side of humanity by gunning down Klaatu in cold blood, which he, like Jesus, had prophesized to his followers. As he lay dying in the arms of Patricia Neal’s Mary Magdalene figure, he reminds her to deliver a vital message to Gort that has come down to us as one of the most famous lines in SciFi history: “Klaatu Barada Nikto.” Loosely translated: “Klaatu says don’t destroy Earth just yet … and come get me and bring me back to life because these idiot humans shot me again.”

Gort gets the message and goes to the government building to empty the tomb and haul the corpse back to the ship, where he resurrects Klaatu. The astonished Mary Magdalene exclaims, in reference to the seemingly omnipotent Gort, “You mean, he has the power of life and death?” The original screenplay called for an affirmative answer to this ultimate how-far-can-science-go? question, but the Breen Censorship Board (a self-policing committee of the film industry) nixed the line, explaining “Only God can do that”. In its stead Klaatu answers, with ecumenical sensitivity: “No, that power is reserved to the almighty spirit.” (In the Boris Karloff version of Frankenstein — Mary Shelley’s science fiction story in which scientists are punished for pushing the envelope of technology — when the monster first comes alive Dr. Frankenstein exclaims “now I know what it feels like to be God.” The voice track was dropped and the background music elevated. I am told, but have not had a chance to check it, that in the remastered DVD of the film the vocal track is restored.) Born again, Klaatu emerges from the ship to deliver his stern warning to the authorities in this thinly veiled defense of the newly formed United Nations:

I am leaving soon and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day and the threat of aggression from any group anywhere can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all or no one is secure. Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly … The test of any higher authority is of course the police force that supports it. For our policemen we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace … At the first sign of violence they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. The result is, we live in peace without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war. Free to pursue more profitable enterprises. We do not pretend to have achieved perfection. But we do have a system and it works. I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet. But if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned out cinder. Your choice is simple. Join us and live in peace or pursue your present course and face obliteration.

Having delivered his message of threatened destruction and potential redemption, Klaatu’s Jesus ascends to the heavens.

The remake adds and subtracts from the original, and nearly always does so in constructive ways. Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly fill the main characters perfectly, but the director Scott Derrickson and the screenplay writer David Scarpa elevated Helen to an astrobiologist and made her the scientific link to Klaatu. Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese of Monty Python fame who nevertheless sells the character as serious) is working on his theory of “biological altruism” (read evolutionary ethics), added as an element in the story to convince Klaatu that humans deserve a second chance to express our altruistic nature (reinforced by Bach playing on Barnhardt’s stereo — “It’s beautiful” Klaatu says in his transformation from destroyer to redeemer of worlds).

A massive and seemingly unstoppable alien force destroys a stadium in seconds (photo credit: WETA <br /> copyright 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

A massive and seemingly unstoppable alien force destroys a stadium in seconds
(photo credit: WETA © 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Derrickson also skillfully provided an explanation for why Klaatu would be a bipedal hominid (an unlikely product of independent evolution on another planet) — genetic engineering of placental tissue surrounding his original alien body, with embryological development sped up hundreds of times to transform him into recognizably human. “What were you before you were human?” Benson queries. Klaatu’s answer: “It would only frighten you.” That is a far likelier scenario than the portrayal of aliens in most science fiction films.

Derrickson was also a stickler for scientific accuracy, employing the astronomer and astrobiologist Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute to check the dialogue (and chalkboard equations) for precision. As Derrickson explained at a panel discussion on his film at Caltech — joined by Keanu Reeves, Caltech cosmologist Sean Carroll, and JPL roboticist Joel Burdick — Shostak redacted some meaningless mumbo jumbo in the description of the spaceship’s approach to Earth and replaced it with “The object was not following a gravitational free-fall trajectory; as such its path was recalculated.” (The Caltech students delighted in firing both technical and nerdy questions at the panel. For example, question for Carroll: “Are the laws of physics invariant?” Answer: “I see you’ve been reading my recently published technical paper in which I show that it is possible that the laws of nature could be different in different times and places in the universe.” A slightly less technical question for Keanu Reeves: “Are you human?” Answer: “If you cut me do I not bleed?” Nice. My favorite part of the evening was seeing a hand-made sign hoisted by a group of Caltech coeds — probably 800-on-their-SAT tests all — that read “The Day I Met Keanu the Earth Stood Still”.)

Some additions were unnecessary, such as Gort’s name as a military acronym for Genetically Organized Robotic Technology; or heavy handed, as in overplaying the environmental destruction theme by turning the spaceship into a species-saving Ark. At least the robot wasn’t renamed Gore.

Klaatu is no longer Mr. Carpenter, but he fills Jesus’ shoes by resurrecting a Lazerus-like state trooper from the dead. When Benson’s step-son asks Klaatu to do the same for his father who died in the Iraq war, Derrickson self-censored by having Klaatu explain that “there are some things I cannot do.” (Why not? Is resurrection restricted by length of time after death?) Gone too is the electrical blackout, but in its stead (and escalating the seriousness of Klaatu’s warning), the 28-foot metallic Gort dissolves into billions of tiny nanobots that feed on manmade materials — tanks, trucks, cars, roads, sports stadiums, office buildings, and everything else that represents civilization — growing as they spread around the globe. (It’s the grey goo from beyond!) Klaatu has not come to destroy Earth; he has come to save Earth … from us. “If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives.”

The Day the Earth Stood Still has stood the test of time and its remake is far more than that, and well worth seeing. Both touch on timeless mythic themes: destruction and redemption, death and resurrection, mortality and immortality, individual liberty and group unity, national sovereignty and global community, and of course, scientists playing God and technology run amok. Myths, whether in written or visual form, serve a vital role of asking unanswerable questions and providing unquestionable answers. Most of us, most of the time, have a low tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. We want to reduce the cognitive dissonance of not knowing by filling the gaps with answers. Traditionally, religious myths have served that role, but today — the age of science — science fiction is our mythology.

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Klaatu Gort Redux, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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48 Responses to “Klaatu Gort Redux”

  1. SeanJJordan says:

    I just watched the original the other night and absolutely loved it (though I haven’t made it to see the remake yet).

    Oddly enough, it was making me think along similar lines. I found myself wondering if, in 100 years, some of the conventional mythologies will be replaced with the Jesus-as-alien mythology. It sounds a little far off for today’s culture, but when you consider that there are already movements out there like the Raelians that hold this sort of belief, it’s well within the realm of possibility.

    There have been other sci-fi films that have used messianic imagery as well. E.T., for example, has been targeted by Christians for its many messianic cues, and The Matrix Revolutions could not have been more obvious in its attempts to equate Neo with the messiah, to the point that he even dies on a cross towards the end of the movie.

  2. Tim Farley says:

    I saw this film with a crew of skeptics, and our group review was decidedly more negative.

    Particularly in the early parts of the story, the plot makes no sense. Why, for instance, when they still believe the object is going to impact Manhattan, do they gather all their scientists in helicopters and hover over the impact zone? Why indeed do they even gather scientists at all, to study the crater? At one point they point out that Klaatu is genetically identical to a human (and even show where the aliens got the DNA for that). And yet somehow he has super powers? The government attempts to use a polygraph (pure pseudoscience) on an alien? When the government snatches Helen via helicopter, why do they leave the boy with the alien?

    On the positive side, John Cleese was good in his Cameo, and the new digital GORT was cool. But overall, I give this remake a thumbs down. I recommend everyone stick with the 1951 version.

    P.S. I think those Caltech students probably got more than 800 on their SATs, especially now that the top score has been raised to 2400. I assume you meant “SAT Math section”.

  3. Toast says:

    So if Gort dissolves into billions of matter eating nanobots, does this mean that The Day The Earth Stood Still isn’t really about a day the Earth stood still?

  4. Max says:

    “For our policemen we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace … At the first sign of violence they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk.”

    Nothing could possibly go wrong, hehe.

  5. Cambias says:

    So if I understand this: because our species’s technology is endangering other species on Earth, the aliens use their technology to endanger us? And this is ethical because . . . ?

  6. LovleAnjel says:

    My one beef: no Klaatu barada nikto anywhere! As they were standing in the viaduct in Central Park I kept whispering , “Say it…say it!” annoying my husband to no end, as he had never seen the original. It was such a small thing, but such a big disappointment.

    Tim, I have some thoughts about comments: “Why, for instance, when they still believe the object is going to impact Manhattan, do they gather all their scientists in helicopters and hover over the impact zone? Why indeed do they even gather scientists at all, to study the crater?”

    The government had a standing plan for what to do in event of alien contact (CE3K), which was started once they figured out the sphere was intelligently controlled (when it had altered from the expected trajectory). But since the government is moronic about need-to-know, they wouldn’t even tell the scientific team what their real purpose was until they got there. As for hovering around the crash site before the impact, that did seem stupid.

    “At one point they point out that Klaatu is genetically identical to a human (and even show where the aliens got the DNA for that). And yet somehow he has super powers?”

    He was a combination of 3 different DNA types, including human and two alien types…sketchy as it is but it gives them wiggle room.

    “The government attempts to use a polygraph (pure pseudoscience) on an alien?”

    The government regularly uses polygraphs on all its employees and, um, “enemy combatants”. No amount of evidence to the contrary has convinced them otherwise as of yet. The movie is 100% accurate with that.

    “When the government snatches Helen via helicopter, why do they leave the boy with the alien?”

    The other two helicopters were going to snatch the kid and Klaatu, but Klaatu destroyed them before they had a chance.

    “On the positive side, John Cleese was good in his Cameo, and the new digital GORT was cool. But overall, I give this remake a thumbs down. I recommend everyone stick with the 1951 version.”

    I liked Cleese but was disappointed with Gort. He looked a little too CGI for my taste…and a swarm of metal locusts? Really? I liked his laser eyes better.

  7. Tim Farley says:

    LovleAnjel: Points well taken, thanks.

  8. Mark Edward says:

    Okay. In the first place, for me at least, re-making this film was tantamount to sacrilege from the get-go. But hey, with Hollywood almost completely bereft of anything even remotely original in their heads and still endlessly re-inventing comic books, the whole project didn’t surprise me. When I first heard about it, I had hope. I think most of that hope was dashed when I heard Keanu had the lead. Who can possibly replace Michael Rennie? That’s like replacing The Godfather’s Brando with Ed Norton… Give me a break.
    Now here’s my question: The whole intro with the snowstorm and the guy who gets knocked out and wakes up with the blister on his hand. What was that all about? Someone tell me please. For a minute I thought I was watching Carpenter’s remake of “The Thing.” Was that supposed to be where the aliens got the DNA to work up their plot or was that guy supposed to be the Asian alien/human who met Klaatu at the McDonald’s fifty years later? I didn’t get that.
    The emotion between Helen the human and Klaatu the alien was totally left out and there was next to nothing in terms of chemistry between the lead characters. Where was the Hugh Marlowe “Judas” character? The “Stood Still” part was muddled badly and didn’t tie in with either the Helen or Barhard character templates that provided much of the suspense in the original. In that version,the riveting backwards music cues acoompanied by quick cut shots of people reacting around the world “still” was much more effective. Robert Wise had a vision that still works. And what was that… some thinly veiled Biblcal reference to locusts? It reminded me of Rocky and Bullwinkle and the Giant Metal Munching Mice. GORT was never given his chance to shine. BTW: The original short story “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates has an incredible twist ending that really would have made any re-make really outstanding, but the writers botched that idea too. Too bad.
    Although I enjoyed the film, I wouldn’t have given it much of a thought if I hadn’t grown up watching the original. I too missed the Klaatu barada nikto line. Come on now! If you are going to re-make a classic, give me a classic line or two – somewhere! And I also missed seeing at least Billy Gray in some cameo role. I expected much more for all the ballyhoo this film has been getting and all without a glimmer of a theremin, advanced electronic score or even a few Bernard Herrmann cues thrown in as homage to a soundtrack that changed forever movie music – at least for me. The eco theme was trendy, but we still have thousands of nukes sitting around. Let’s not forget that please. My son loved it, but to me it was a disappointment. I give it 5.5 out of 10.

  9. Troy says:

    In case you really want to know, yes the remastered DVD of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with Boris Karloff as the monster does have the voice track restored and it is well worth the watching just to see that scene (especially if you get to watch it with someone that is horrified by the arrogance of science).

    An earlier comment was wondering why the government would put scientists in helicopters right over the impact zone… must be the second part of the plan: In a crisis, eliminate those that question authority.

  10. Has Keanu Reeves learned to move his facial muscles yet?

  11. Stuart says:

    “Gone too is the electrical blackout….” No, it wasn’t left out — just used differently. Instead of the proof of the alien’s power, it was the “consequence” of saving humankind. Now, does the power stay off for good? Discuss….

  12. GK says:

    I know it is completely off-topic, but… am I the only one who thinks Michale Shermer is a Kevin Spacey look-alike???

    http://www.theadvocates.org/celebrities/images/michael-shermer.jpg
    http://upload.moldova.org/movie/actors/k/kevin_spacey/thumbnails/tn2_kevin_spacey_2.jpg

    Sorry, I really don’t mean to troll or spam, but I always wanted to point this out…

  13. ‘Klaatu barada nikto’ is said. In the park, after Klaatu is shot and Gort does his ‘no electricity’ thing, the only reason Gort backs off is because Klaatu says the line. It’s quiet, but it’s there.

    But, yeah, the earth barely stands still any more. (And nothing about how power in hospitals and the like are affected!)

  14. BillDarryl says:

    Didja see msnbc’s review of the movie? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28166691/

    It includes this gem of ignorance:

    …what words do remain are so exquisitely awful that they provide some of the season’s biggest laughs.

    My personal favorite? Astro-biologist Helen Benson … notes that her colleague was honored “for his work in biological altruism.” What would that entail, exactly? Helping frogs cross the street?

    There’s a link at the bottom for reader comments. Many, many people (myself included) took him to task for not even bothering to google to find out this is a valid, and quite current, field of study.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28166691/

  15. Archaneus says:

    I thought the remake was decent, not that great but alright. I have never seen the original but given your description of it I am ambivalent. Either it’s an annoying thinly-veiled religious message, or it is a wonderful mocking of religion with a good message and I can’t tell which is the case from your description. I have no desire to sit through an hour and a half of proselytization so if anyone knows the answer to that I would appreciate that information.

    As an aside, I would like to comment on your reaction to the kid’s request to resurrect his father. You said, “Is resurrection restricted by length of time after death?” It seems to me like it indeed would be. After the brain decays away by what mechanism would you restore the individual? Even if you could resurrect someone after their brain had decayed away you wouldn’t be able to restore their brain to the same organizational pattern and therefore they would be an entirely different person, mentally.

  16. Jeffrey Herrmann says:

    As a point of trivia, wasn’t the original movie based on a short story from Astounding Science Fiction, probably in the late 1940s, entitled “I Am the Master”? I read it a half century ago, but I remember the robot uses (imperfect) news films of his humanoid companion to temporarily resurect him and the Earthlings ask the robot to tell his master that they are sorry they shot him. The robot’s reply “Klaatu barada nichto” means “I am the master.”

  17. According to my Universal Translator “Klaatu barada nichto” means “Holy shit, these people will buy anything!”

  18. John says:

    Humans needed to be eliminated as a threat to the Earth because “planets that can support complex life are rare”, yet the little nano-locusts had the ability to reshape the planet and erase the damage caused by humans. Surely they would have the technology to terraform worlds.

    Frankly, I think the original warning of the Earth ending up an insignificant burnt out cinder in the vastness of the cosmos more plausible. The new version still puts us at the center of the universe.

  19. Roy Latham says:

    How did Carpenter get his powers despite human DNA? Why, from his cell phone, of course. An advanced civilization could get by with just text messaging, could they? To stop human civilization, enter 47361 and then press the # key.

  20. Bob Tannenbaum says:

    biological altruism sounds great, but how does that field get around man’s true nature: which is savage hunter killer.
    we have eyes in front of our head because we are predators, like lions and eagles. ben franklin aside, the eagle should be our national symbol. we have canine teeth to rip and tear our meat. we gather more food (money) than we need in order to prevent starvation in times of famine, like the squirrels.
    eric fromm, the great social scientist, said the week before he died, that the problem with the human race is that we have the technology of the space age and the emotions of ativistic man. we have a thin veneer of civilization covering up our ativistic tentencies.
    only when we evolve to a higher and more peaceful life form, can we expect to resolve the problems of this century. the question is, can we reach that higher stage of evolution, before we destroy everything on this planet? i think not. our true nature will prevent this from happening. no wonder we do not hear anything on seti. no life form gets past the stage we are in…perhaps we are the most evolved of all in the universe, having invented radio waves… no god or alien can save us. perhaps, a monolith on the moon?

  21. billyboy says:

    I grew up watching and loving “THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL”. I don’t know how many times I saw it, but I never got tired of it. When I got older I realized it was an anti war film and maybe that is what drew me to become a ’60′s anti-war person. I also watched another movie with an anti war theme, ” THE BOY WITH THE GREEN HAIR”. I wonder if they’ll remake that one too. Both films are timeless in their message and we need KLATU today as much as ever. And I know a lot of people that can identify with the green haired boy.
    I’m looking forward to seeing the new movie even though some of the reviews were bad. IT’S THE MESSAGE, EARTHLINGS!

  22. Steve Doob says:

    I try not to be pessimistic, but after 50 years I still think this poem is appropriate:

    Created
    Create
    Cremated

  23. “To stop human civilization, enter 47361 and then press the # key.”

    Pfft. Don’t bother, fellow readers – I tried it and it didn’t work.

  24. Rik G says:

    Bob ( #20),
    “biological altruism sounds great, but how does that field get around man’s true nature: which is savage hunter killer?”
    I’m not in that field, so I can’t comment with authority, but I’d imagine it goes something like this:
    Our ancestors hunted prey much larger than themselves, and to do this, they hunted in packs. In other words, they needed to cooperate. Successful cooperation involved not only communication, but at times, putting the needs of the group ahead of the needs of the individual. There is your root of “biological altruism”. Sure, a lot of the risk-taking altruists might actually sacrefice their lives, and therefore loose any further chance of passing on their genes, but perhaps those who took risks for the group and survived were rewarded with, among other things, the gratitude of the group (reinforcing the cultural value of altruism) as well as increased opportunity to reproduce, thereby passing on the genes that predisposed them to take risks on behalf of their group, and contributing to the biological evolution of altruism. Many, many generations later you can end up with societies and groups within society that are externally aggressive and internally altruistic.

    …or something like that.

    Anyway, I haven’t seen either version of the film, but now I want to see both!

  25. Liz Chesney says:

    Hi Michael –

    Great review. I saw the movie on opening weekend and agree with most of your observations. As you know, many if not most of the “critical” response has been…um…SKEPTICAL. In a nutshell, many of these guys seem to not like their action movies to be “about” anything…for some reason this inhibits their ability to enjoy the special effects. Whatever, dudes! My advice to them is to go buy the “Dark Knight” DVD and watch it on an endless loop on their plasma screens.

    Michael, now that you are a film critic, you should get your reviews posted on sites like Rottentomatoes.com…Lord knows they need rational minded folks like yourself in there to balance out the ranks!

    Keep up the good work!

  26. Liz Chesney says:

    One more thing: as a female I’ve come to begrudgingly accept characters like Jennifer Connelly’s in the film: a world renowned scientific expert who is not a pudgy, gray haired 70 year old guy (as it would be if it were true to life), but a gorgeous, single 28 year old with a heart of gold. LOL. (Cameron Diaz’ 27 year old single, gorgeous orthopedic surgeon with a heart of gold in “Something about Mary” is one of my favorites, and especially aggregious, with the average age a student completes his orthopedic surgery residency around 30).
    But I’m not offended by these characters. I merely find them amusing. I’m glad they are out there as male fantasy characters…young girls need to see more of these characters so that they might aspire to become something other than Jessica Simpson or Britney Spears.

    Cheers! Liz

  27. Paul says:

    What happened to all the trees and vegetation? Not worth saving? The earth is “dying” so kill off the humans and their technology, save the animals in numerous “arks”, but leave the plant life to die ?? (and imagine the water pollution from all the waste products from those nanobots).

    Simplistic eco-babble, nothing more.

    The earth was REALLY dying 65 million years ago, when the asteroid wiped out most living things on the planet, and yet our planet managed to recover (presumably without alien help), yielding human beings and the plethora of life we see today. Don’t the aliens know about our planet’s resiliency? So, we’re worse than the asteroid? I know that the current pollution problem is real, and will worsen over time, but is it really going to be worse than that mega-disaster? It’s so bad right now that it warrants emergency genocide?? Hey, please forgive me if I’m skeptical to this concept.

    And why no comments about the rest of the movie’s kindergarten-quality simplistic philosophy: the Chinese “alien” states that humans are “destructive”—so they’ve gotta go; didn’t this strike anyone as slightly oversimplistic, a decidedly one-sided/ lopsided view, for a supposedly technologically and ?philosophically/ ethically more advanced civilization??? Oh, wait a minute—but he loves them too. Then: Why kill everyone?? Doesn’t strike me as very rational, balanced logic for an advanced civilization capable of superior thinking. A hell of a lot more philosophic depth and subtlety was desperately needed.

    And we are then expected to believe that a maudlin interpersonal connection with the “astrobiologist” and that bratty spoiled child, somehow convinces Klaatu that humans are good guys afterall, so he suddenly decides to change course and stop further destruction of mankind. Please! Too silly.

    The comment by a previous commenter about resurrection is correct: as anyone knowledgeable about neuropathology can tell you, liquefactive necrosis sets in real fast after you die, so the brain turns into mush! (Sorry if you’ve just spent a fortune on having your head cryogenically frozen after you die.)

    And I agree, with another commenter, that the use of the polygraph machine was totally laughable; true, it is sometimes used in government (which I believe is a disgrace), but to conceive of it as being a first-line scientifically useful tool in examining an alien being, is quite ridiculous. I mean, where are the physiological polygraph norms for aliens? (from Roswell??!!)

    Mr Schermer, you are too nice a guy. The movie deserved a few more digs. It deals with broad world issues too simplistically, blurring the real problems and solutions into pop culture mini-sound bytes that sound great, but are philosophically one-sided, shallow and ultimately unsatisfying.

  28. John Powell says:

    Earth’s uppity dinosaurs were easily wiped out by Klaatu’s predecessor with an asteroid. But by the time they noticed us humans messing up the planet we had already developed a space program, so they landed to get more personal with us…

  29. From the For What It’s Worth File….. My father was a career police officer. I asked him about the polygraph. He admitted it was totally unreliable and fairly easy to beat. He said his department used it anyway, based on what suspects thought about the polygraph. He said, “A lot of these dumbasses we lock up think it works and sometimes you can tell if they’re lying just by their reaction when we ask ‘em to take it. As long as they think it works, in a sense, it does.” He also admitted there were some detectives who swore by it, couldn’t understand why the results weren’t admissable in court.

  30. Brian Jordan says:

    I don’t believe it! Conspiracy theory or crappy film? Well, I suppose it could be a crappy conspiracy…

  31. Klatu says:

    Found on a good mailing list:

    We (using the Royal prerogative) hope this finds you all well, well-rested, in good spirit and having a good day.

    Today I watched the 1951 black and white film “The Day That The Earth Stood Still” for the very first time, and saw how prescient it was of me and these times. Ironically, as part of Father’s divine planning, in the late 1960s/early 1970s I was even given a cloth embroidered Klatu Barada Nikto sew-on patch, so I knew the three words, but had not seen the film until today.

    The film brought back the memory that in 1986 I wrote to Javier Perez de Cuellar the then Secretary-General of the United Nations Organisation and asked him to arrange for me to address the General Assembly, to which I received no reply.

    A similar response to that which Klatu received in the film.

    I, like Klatu, as I told everyone 2,000 years ago, am not of this world, and find life here inside one of these human bodies repugnant, as he did, only much more-so.

    In 1988, after contacting heads of major governments and religions and being continually ignored, I served my High Court Writ on the British Parliament, claiming my Rightful Throne, to show them I was/am serious and was rejected, and went on hunger-strike to show them how deadly serious I was/am, but again I was ignored. They cared not one iota for me, or for the whole of mankind, because, if this body I am using had died, there would now be no-one left alive on Earth, just as was threatened in the above mentioned film.

    All THEY care about is money and power and the continual increase of both for THEM, and less for you, even though their greed is destroying the environment and causing the extinction of other species at an accelerating rate.

    Since then THEY have continued to ignore me, tried to imprison me for life, and used their money and power to keep me from having access to the media and thus the people of the world, to explain the choice facing all of you – the same one Klatu brought to the Earth and I sought to give to the General Assembly in 1986.

    Learn to be unselfish, help each other and live in peace, or be executed for your crimes.

    Exactly as explained in The Way home or face The Fire – http://jahtruth.net/wayad.htm .

    We have been warning you with this same message for 6,000 years, and still you are not listening.

    I am still waiting and watching the days pass rapidly, leading inexorably to Armageddon and The Reaping.

    It is a very sad and tragic situation, but it is the one you have collectively chosen for yourselves, and, as you have chosen it, whilst exercising your free-will, I have to accept it and deal with it.

    Eventually I will receive external help from my Father and the Heavenly Host and We will do exactly as prophesied, and, like against Gort, you will have absolutely no defence.

    Time is running out – http://jahtruth.net/signs.htm – but not for me.

    Watch the film, take it seriously and use the remaining time wisely.

    LLTF,

    The Master.

  32. Bob Tannenbaum says:

    there is an old saying, “no good deed goes unpunished.” klatu above has learned this the hard way.
    like: stranger in a strange land, the robert heinlin sci-fi novel, christ comes back and is crucified again, of course.
    the yin yang symbol has a black area in the white area, and a white area in the black area. very clever and true. there is always a positive that comes from a negative, and vice versa. scientists call this the law of unentended consequences. sometimes it is impossible to foresee these events that will certainly happen.
    someone once told me that was untrue, that the holocaust had no positives. well, how about the fact that many key scientists left germany-austria, einstein, the woman who first split the atom, and many more. if hitler had used the jews instead of killing them, they would have had the bomb first. they did have heavy water at the end of the war. always a positive. and always a negative.
    ray kurtzweil, the inventor and futurist, whose ideas have been on skeptic before, has predicted that by the year 2525 we will have developed computers that are much faster than the human brain. the singularity it is called. if these are transfered into humans, using an altruistic theme, could then mankind be saved? hmmm, rebels that take them out of a chosen few, and then use our kindness against us? masters and slaves again as it has been through history, except in a few indian tribes like the pueblo, the unintended consequences are huge. life must be agressive to survive, and ay there is the rub.

  33. sw says:

    GK

    Michael Shermer is better looking than Kevin Spacey.

  34. penny says:

    Why is an expert in biological altruism solving a problem in general relativity on his blackboard—is elementary astrophysics his hobby?

    This movie was drivel. But, I did like the middle aged, ugly, poorly dressed woman as secretary of state. ( I am a middle aged woman).

    The nanotech weapon was in far too primitive a form for such an advanced culture–I agree, it is the biblical locust thingy. It reminded me of the animation of the angel of death in the George Pal
    movie ” The Ten Commandments”.

    The science in the movie is moronic.

    Hollywood is remaking “Forbidden Planet”–I shudder.

  35. penny says:

    Just as an aside:
    I enjoyed the celestial mechanics scene in the original–when I was a child. In 1978, I met the person who wrote the lines–it was Basil Gordon–a prof at UCLA–who wrote the line as a Caltech graduate student. That was thrilling.

    It was the ONLY science fiction movie that even tried to get math correct–except for the line about “logical alphabets” in “Forbidden Planet”. I didn’t know celestial mechanics as a preteen–but I did have a telescope, and the movie line inspired me to look up celestial mechanics–and this was part of my motivation to become a mathematician ( along with Claude Shannon’s masters thesis–packed in a trashy rotary switch “computer kit”–the “Geniac, the IBM exhibit at
    the NY World’s Fair, and WFF n’Proof).

    I found the rest of the movie ( like the current one) to be a moronic exercise in CryptoChristianity.

  36. Skepnick says:

    Boy, you guys are a tough audience, I’m never showing you any of my home vids.

    I haven’t seen the new release, but I have fond memories of the original. I was raised in a largely agnostic home, so I missed the messianic message(?). I was outraged when they shot our hero (I seem to remember a young; nervous, soldier let off a shot)…but my main memory is of the big dude in the silver suit. Man, he would have wiped out that idiot who used to bully me. Strange; I remember Klaatu, but not the the name of bully…

    The whole resurrection thing wasn’t so strange after a diet of Star Trek and The Tomorrow People.

    It’s only a movie; you’d need millennia of re-editing before this became a religion. I read a short story about Superman a few years ago. The Boy Scout in blue was never of any interest to me (I loved Bats) – but you read what you can if there’s nothing else (I work offshore and travel a lot). The story’s main theme concerned some crime the he had committed (however unwittingly); and his consequential punishment. As it was clear no court could effectively carry out any sentence against him, he was required to carry out the sentence against himself. He was asked to fly out of our atmosphere and re-enter at high speed – allowing him to be buried at the earth’s core, where the pressure and temperature would eventually kill him. Yeah I know; I’m sure this impact would have released a couple of joules, but good stories often contain an element of romance. The moon would have been more sensible, but not as dramatic. It was clearly a Jebuz related story, the difference was – a journalist was waiting to cash in on the deal – Nice!

    The new release of TDTESS (I’m secretly hoping I’m the first to do the acronym, someone somewhere had to come up with ST-TOS, ST-TNG ST-DS9, ST-VOY, SG-1 and SG-ATL) is just another telling of a story, it can’t actually be wrong. A story is part of our species external memory, none of them are better than others, as long as they covey the ‘moral’ we hope to pass on. My daughters would probably laugh their collective asses off if I made them sit through the original b/w version.

    Take it easy everyone.

  37. Bob Tannenbaum says:

    as a retired elementary school teacher, and one who has researched this problem i know that children ALL OVER THE ENTIRE WORLD have this one constant horrible dream, and that is: they dream of mushroom clouds and having no where to hide. this is what dropping those two bombs did to the children and adults of the world.
    check it out if you don’t believe me. ask a someone in the field. many people who read this will agree and be able to back me up. and if you have the guts, ask your kids if they dream of atomic destruction of the earth. many of them will tell you yes….sad…
    and if you ask Jewish kids who are now in their seventies, they will tell you that they have not lost the fear and horror of the concentration camps in Europe. i first saw the pictures of the camps when i was seven or eight in the daily news in new york.
    that stuff, and the dodgers and giants leaving new york for California, ended my childhood. i have never trusted anyone since.
    however, when i saw the day the earth stood still, i had hope that maybe there was a savior out there. i loved the movie back in 1951, and hope that this movie will give hope to all the people alive today. god has gone a long time ago. the only thing we have left is rational leaders of large countries. there is a reason why russia and america did not blow each other up. the strategy of MAD worked. that is, mutual assured distruction. our submarines have been our savior so far, and not our intercontinental missiles.
    thank you hyman rickover, and thank you jimmy carter who worked in the nuclear sub fleet when in the navy…i have been told that isreal also has nuclear submarine second strike ability. two subs i have been told. i believe that those kinds of nightmares are the reasons for our strong remembrance of this old film. bob t.

  38. Bob Tannenbaum says:

    and my last comment. for a long time i have been disturbed by the fact that we do not hear any radio waves on our seti stations. considering the age of the universe since the big bang, and the speed of sound and light, you would think we may have heard something by now. we can not be the only planet of trillions of planets to have developed to this level, which is still primative, no matter what others say….so , here is my theory: the advanced civilizations are afraid of planets and life forms like us. we are much too violent and undeveloped. we still believe in gods and superstitious nonsense. so this is what they did: they put a filter around the far reaches of our solar system. this filter does not let any information get through to us down here. that is just what i would do if i was a rational life form. wouldn’t you?
    my guess it this. if we evolve to a higher order of species, more rational, and peaceful, and travel out of our solar system, we will hear the sounds of the other planets with life on them. i am betting on it…bob t.

  39. Bob, get thee some professional help.

  40. antaresrichard says:

    “Gnut, Klaatu barada nikto!” ‘Farewell to the Master’ by Harry Bates.

  41. MarkA says:

    At least Hollywood didn’t mangle this remake as badly as they did with “The Wicker Man.”

  42. Sonny Day says:

    I broke away from a tour group(Historical Cemetery, Scamilton Ont.,) I saw a ground vault with a slatted window and like any good Ghost Hunter would do. I jammed in my camera(digital) and shot off a few. Due to the sun outside, I couldn’t see the viewer. When I got home and saw the photo, I think a little pee came out! I knew I captured something unearthly. You can see the glowing from the center orbs on the wall just below.I can send you the pics if you send me an email address that will run a 1.25Mb size photo. I searched your site and gave up, (too much info, not very clear) Sonny Day

  43. digestinol says:

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  47. Michael Shermer is better looking than Kevin Spacey.