Tag: klaatu barada nikto

‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ – The Cast And Director Speak

01

The 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still is considered a classic. The original story featured the enigmatic alien Klaatu (Michael Rennie) bringing a message from distant civilizations warning against our nuclear proliferation and tendency to almost blow ourselves up. This landmark movie sent a definitive Cold War message to the masses: shape up — or else. While on earth Klaatu is befriended by Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and her son Bobby (Billy Gray) while the giant robot Gort guards Klaatu’s space ship.

Now Director Scott Derrickson has taken on the monumental task of remaking — or reimaging, as they like to call it now — this much loved science fiction movie. Over the years many writers and directors have wanted to redo the film, but nothing went beyond a lot of talk until Derrickson recently took up the challenge, directing a script by David Scarpa.

This new 20th Century Fox version stars Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, with Jennifer Connelly as Helen Benson — now Doctor Benson, a brilliant and renowned astrobiologist specializing in possible alien life forms. Jaden Smith plays her dysfunctional stepson, Jacob, with Jon Hamm as Benson’s scientist teammate. And Gort is back, bigger and stronger then ever. The movie is now playing in theaters across the US and in IMAX.

Scott Derrickson, along with stars Reeves and Connelly, plus co-star Jon Hamm answered questions from reporters at a recent Beverly Hills Press Conference, and Pop Culture Zoo was there.

03PCZ: Is the line “Klaatu barada nikto” in the new film?

SCOTT DERRICKSON: It is. It’s in the movie when he [Klaatu] stops Gort. It’s a loud part of the movie, so I don’t know…

KEANU REEVES: We did some crazy stuff on that line. We played it backwards, we played it forwards.

PCZ: Is it electronically altered? It’s very hard to tell what he’s saying.

DERRICKSON: It’s spoken by the alien, but he’s not in human form at that point. But it’s his [Reeves’] voice. I think that the main piece we used was a combination of you [to Reeves] saying it normally front wards, then he memorized it backwards and then we played it forwards so it’s a combination of those two things. We had fun there.

PCZ: Wasn’t it Reeves’ idea to put the line in the movie?

DERRICKSON: Yeah, I think it was. He had the first draft of the script and it wasn’t in there.

REEVES: Yes, where is the barada nikto? We’ve got to put that in there.

PCZ: How did you approach remaking such a classic film and still satisfy the fans of the original but bring something new to the story?

DERRICKSON: It was a big concern and something I spent a lot of time thinking about trying to figure out where do I strike the balance. It’s a 57 years old film with elements that are both iconic that fans of the original will still want to see. And at the same time modern audiences have their own expectations and they’re the bulk of the people who will go see this.

“It’s a 57 years old film with elements that are both iconic that fans of the original will still want to see. And at the same time modern audiences have their own expectations and they’re the bulk of the people who will go see this.” – Director Scott Derrickson

I really tried to learn from what Philip Kaufman did with his version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. I had seen the Phil Kaufman film and it scared the crap out of me. It made a major impression. It was the first

I didn’t see the Don Siegel [Invasion Of The Body Snatchers] version until I was in college. And when I went back and looked at both of those again it seemed that Kaufman did a really great job of trying to take everything he could from the original version that would update to a late 70s audience. And that movie is a very nice balance.

With this I watched the original several times to figure out just what has to be there. Gort had to be there. Certainly it had to be the basic storyline, but also what things did we have to adjust, to fulfill a modern audience’s expectations.

PCZ: To Jennifer Connelly: How did you feel about the changes to the female lead from a mom/secretary in the original to a mom/astrobiologist in this version?

JENNIFER CONNELLY: The vocational changes were there when I came into it.

DERRICKSON: It was one of the selling points for me of having the lead character be a serious scientist. I love the idea that there are some scientists who do very serious work about possible theories of alien life forms. So part of the updating of the movie was to represent this fragmented family and to change this lead character to this progressive woman.

CONNELLY: It was a great opportunity and I recognize that and it’s a surprising role to find in this kind of film. I love what she represented and the kind of person she was. I love that she’s the one who is put in this position and has this responsibility [to try and save the world].

02PCZ: How was working with Jaden Smith as your stepson?

CONNELLY: Jaden was great. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better-looking human being in my life. He’s remarkable. It was a really tough role and it demanded a lot of him, but I think he met all of the challenges put to him.

PCZ: The message of the original film could be read as, “Give peace a chance.” The message in the new version seems more with “Give earth, the environment, a chance.” So why the change in the message?

DERRICKSON: I still think this movie says a lot about war. I think the film comments a lot about the American military policy and the war that we’re in and the human propensity to destroy each other. I love Klaatu’s line, “You treat the world like you treat each other.” That’s one of my favorite lines that he has in the movie. That sums up the two issues that are there. I think the issue with the environment is that it is a true and impending threat to our long-term survival.

PCZ: For Keanu: How did you deal with playing an alien?

REEVES: It’s a challenge. In a way, the role started more alien than human, then going to more human than alien. I thought that would be fun. I was trying to have this kind of separateness. Something behind the eyes. Not having these traditional behavioral cues, but there is something involved there, but again it’s quite sinister. He has been shot so I think there’s something behind his eyes that isn’t neutral.

PCZ: Why do you end up doing so many science fiction type movies?

REEVES: I love the [science-fiction/fantasy] genre – I love it in cinema, literature and graphic novels. I grew up on it and I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some good stories in the genre.

PCZ: For Jon Hamm: How was it going from starring in Mad Men to this?

JON HAMM: I’d been on big movies before, but never with very much to do. [This film] was overwhelming – I got on the plane, I got off the plane, went into wardrobe and 24 hours later I was shooting in front of four hundred extras. It was a gut-check in a way, but it was an incredible opportunity and a new experience in a really cool story in a really cool movie.

05PCZ: In the original movie Klaatu gives his message to the entire world and it’s basically, “It’s up to you to change.” But in this one only a few people know what his message is so what are we in the end left with in this version?

REEVES: It’s up to you also, but I’ve got a big stick. (Everyone laughing.)

DERRICKSON: Give peace a chance … and if you don’t, we’ll come back and kill you.

PCZ: But he only gave that message to a couple of scientists and a child and not too many people listen to scientists these days.

DERRICKSON: They will after the situation that Klaatu has left the world in. This was something that was definitely talked about. First of all the movie isn’t clear about how long this power is going to be shut off… that’s one of the things that is open ended. The original is very peace through strength… I’ve got a bigger bomb then you so we’d all better be nice.

Modern audiences won’t stand for that. I don’t like it as a moviegoer either to be told here’s what you’re supposed to think. I very much like the idea to put forth images and but forth ideas and let the audience go away and let them make of it what they will. It was not to deliver a message; it was to deliver a picture of where we are. All the issues that we are in, solving those issues will come at a price, a sacrifice.

REEVES: It’s a version of modern storytelling. In our film the message is not put out to the people, but it has traveled in a way. It’s gone from Helen, to Jacob, it’s gone to Barnhardt, the scientist; it’s gone to the Secretary of Defense. It’s gone to you guys [the reporters.] (Big laugh from everyone.)

DERRICKSON: He’s right. And one of the conscious decisions we made to keep in this movie was the original Christ story. A lot has been made of this. Klaatu is a Christ figure, the way he comes to earth, walks among us and gives us wisdom, and dies and is resurrected. But I like the idea that the message in this movie gets out the way that Christ’s message did get out. When he died it was 12 guys and him that were being chased. And yet the message got out. It’s there. It’s just not obvious.

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Review: ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ Two-Disc Special Edition

The Day the Earth Stood Still is one of my favorite films and, while I’m not overly thrilled that there is a remake coming out, they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That and a two-disc special edition DVD set. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment already released this film on DVD back in 2003, so enough time has passed to make this worth picking up. You can also do what I’m planning on doing and re-gift the original edition to someone you know will enjoy the film, but doesn’t necessarily care about the extras. And in order to help you feel ok about dipping into the pool twice,let’s take a look at this new set.

The Film
What can really be said about this film that hasn’t been talked about ad infinitum already? Released in 1951 it’s many pop culture gifts include giving us Gort, “Klaatu barada nikto!” and the introduction of the theremin as a staple of science-fiction film and television scores. Presented here, the film looks the best it’s looked since probably its initial release. I’m not really sure if a new transfer has been used or if the manufacturing technology has just improved over the years, but it does look better than the first release on my HD TV. Details are sharp with no noticeable artifacting. The only blemishes are in the way some scenes were originally captured on film.

The Extras
Repeated in this release are the 70-minute documentary making-of feature and the set of 1951 newsreels. I loved both of these on the previous set so, since I plan to give that first one away, I’m glad they’re included here. Brand new to this set are a whole bevy of featurettes that cover every aspect of this film in detail. They are too numerous to get into (check the specs below), but the highlights are an isolated film score track, a new group commentary and The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin. The latter makes me want to own a theremin, seriously. All in all, the extras really are added value and make it worth buying this film again.

As not only one of the greatest science-fiction films ever, but also on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 greatest films, and backed by an impressive array of extras, this set deserves a spot in your DVD collection. Pick it up now at your favorite DVD retailer (and be sure to support your local shop).

Product Details

Disc One

  • Commentary by Director Robert Wise and Nicholas Meyer (Director, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
  • All-New Commentary by Film & Music Historians John Morgan, Steven Smith, William Stromberg and Nick Redman
  • Isolated Score Track
  • All-New Featurettes: The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin; Main Title Live Performance by Peter Pringle & The Making of The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Farewell to the Master: A Reading by Jamieson K. Price of the Original Harry Bates Short Story
  • Fox Movietonews (1951)
  • Trailers

Disc Two

  • All-New Featurettes: 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
  • Interactive Pressbook and Still Galleries