CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

Christmas is the Day the Earth Stood Still

Earlier this month, Forry J. Ackerman passed away at the age of 93. While he was best known for his magazine **Famous Monsters of Filmland,** Uncle Forry was a prolific editor of pulp magazines and coined the phrase “Sci Fi” - which is short for Science Fiction. “”Dr. Acula” was a literary agent to Ib (**Death Race 2000**) Melchior, Curt (**The Wolf Man**) Siomak and Ray (**Fahrenheit 451**) Bradbury. Due to his marketing acumen with the magazine and his willingness to promote aspiring young directors like Joe Dante and John Landis, “The Acker Monster” earned cameo roles in both horrible motion pictures (**Dracula versus Frankenstein**) and big budgeted motion pictures (**Innocent Blood,** **Amazon Women on the Moon**). In business world of publishing and motion pictures, Forry J. Ackerman has been the keystone of American Culture for the past seventy years.

One short story that passed Forry's editorial desk was **Farewell to the Master,** written by Henry Bates. This short story described an alien invasion involving a humanoid named Klaatu and a giant robot. The story climaxes with a identity crisis that asks; who is the master and who is the servant? In 1951, Henry Bates' short story was transformed into an epic science fiction extravaganza by 20th Century Fox titles **The Day the Earth Stood Still,** starring Patricia Neal and introducing Michael Rennie.

Most of the science fiction films of the early 1950s featured random violence and destruction, most notably **The War of the Worlds** and **Earth versus the Flying Saucers.** **The Day the Earth Stood Still** was different, the pace was pedestrian with extended dialog scenes featuring topics of human nature, nuclear holocaust and theology. Directed by Robert Wise, **The Day the Earth Stood Still** is a cult favorite for people born in the 1950s.

The twenty first century remake of **The Day the Earth Stood Still** might not have the same impact as the original film and that is too bad. Whereas the original film was slow paced, the new film is extremely fast paced. Both films provide consistent ensemble performances. Both films are a product of their times and both films are dated by their own technology. It is the modern technology and cultural changes that enhances the narrative of the new film.

**The Day the Earth Stood Still** opens in the mountains of Eurasian. A man (Keanu Reeves) encounters a large glowing sphere and receives an implant from the undefined phenomena. Many years later, Helen Benson ( Jennifer Connelly) a prominent astrologist, is secretly summoned by the FBI. Professor Benson learns that an unidentified flying object is on a trajectory to land in Central Park. Leaving her stepson Jacob ( Jaden Smith) behind, the professor joins a team scientists to investigate.

Upon arrival, the alien is accidentally shot in the heart. Professor Benson helps remove the bullet from Klaatu (Reeves), the alien who has taken on human form. The good professor learns from Klaatu that humans are on the road to euthanasia. With the assistance of his giant robot named Gort, Klaatu wants to save the earth by eliminating the human race.

It is his individual contact with the human race, that Klaatu changes his perspective of those mixed upped humans. Klaatu sees the love between a stepmother and a stepson and learns a scholarly lesson from Professor Bernhardt (John Cleese in an excellent cameo role). This cinematic experience is best enhanced on the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery's IMAX six story screen to capture both human dimension and epic size of this motion picture. The film is excellent Christmas viewing, for this day is truly **The Day the Earth Stood Sill.** Dear Readers, **Merry Christmas.**
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