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John Chard
I'm impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it. The Day the Earth Stood Still is directed by Robert Wise and adapted to screenplay by Edmund H. North from the story Farewell to the Master written by Harry Bates. It stars Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray and Frances Bavier. Music is by Bernard Herrmann and cinematography by Leo Tover. Classic sci-fi is right here as director Robert Wise gives a beautifully steady hand to Harry Bate's short story. Peace for the world or else is the message and I don't see anything wrong with that because it stands up to relevant scrutiny today and unfortunately many days ahead in the future. Debates about the allegorical worth of the film still persist today, but the core message is not up for argument. Wise shows his influences from the time when he worked with Orson Welles and Val Lewton, where here, aided by Tover's beautiful photography, he blends the feel of semi-documentary starkness with film noir visuality. Whether it's scenes of Klaatu (Rennie) trawling the wet night streets, or the interiors of the spaceship and boarding house, the visual imagery by way of low-key lighting compositions is often striking for mood accentuation. All the cast are spot on in their respective performances, with Neal refreshingly given a female role that doesn't resort to her being token sex appeal or a shrieking harpy. Herrmann's understated score is dynamite, and pretty much imitated wholesale from this point onwards, and the film is laced with poignant and frightening scenes that keep the viewer firmly glued to the tale unfolding. The demonstration of the visitors power gives the film its title and it's a glorious slice of celluloid, and in Gort the robot (Lock Martin) we have one of the biggest icons in sci-fi cinema. Once viewed one can never forget The Day The Earth Stood Still, its message, its structured precision and its technical smarts ensure you will remember this film always. One of the most important science fiction movies of all time, a game changer in the critical year for the sci-fi genre. All told it's magic cinema still standing the test of time. 10/10

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