The Day the Earth Stood Still

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
The Day the Earth Stood Still Movie Poster Image
Sci-fi, pro-peace classic with some threats and violence.
  • G
  • 1951
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 7 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The central premise is that Earth, unlike more advanced planets in the universe, is in danger of being destroyed unless the warring, hostile countries who share it can find common ground and learn to live in peace. Ignorance, pettiness, and fearfulness have frightening consequences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rather than aggressive, predatory aliens usually found in science fiction films, the interplanetary visitors are portrayed as non-violent, helpful, intelligent, and life-affirming. With few exceptions, the military and government folks are seen as hot-headed, fearful, and have a "shoot-first and ask-questions-later" attitude. Klaatu, the central extraterrestrial, is a decidedly positive father figure to the young boy at the heart of the story. Only one female has impact on the plot and she is played as competent, intelligent, and resourceful.

Violence

People run in fear of an approaching spaceship. Army tanks and weaponry surround the spaceship; guns are drawn. A seemingly mild-mannered alien in human form is shot and injured by a panicky soldier. A robot vaporizes all the weapons in the area and later uses his powers to demobilize several guards. In a suspenseful sequence, the robot frightens a woman and carries her onto the spaceship. During the final conflict there are gun shots and a death occurs. There is a continuous threat of Earth being vaporized by the interplanetary presences.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Set in the 1950s, smoking is pervasive.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that at the core of this film is the powerful, and potentially disturbing notion that because of Earth's volatility and war-addicted nature, the planet is in danger of self-destructing. The production is old-fashioned, with none of the gore, in-your-face brutality, or heavy realism seen in later science fiction movies. Government and military officials are shown as impulsive and violence-prone; in several action sequences, they threaten and shoot out of fear and without cause. There are tanks, all sorts of guns and weaponry and one character is shot on two separate occasions. An alien vaporizes threatening objects and demobilizes guards. In other suspense-filled moments the leads are seen running for their lives. Since it's set in the 1950s, many characters smoke.

User Reviews

Adult Written bystoopidmunkey September 5, 2013

The Day The Earth Stood Still

An all-time classic! One of the best sci-fi movies of all time! Rent it!
Adult Written byyoyoyo212 April 9, 2008

Fantastic

Day the Earth Stood Still Should be shown once a year to everyone. Topics are big and important to the world. an update should be made every 20 years.
Kid, 12 years old July 5, 2013

A Sci Fi Classic

This is one of the best sci fi movies of the 50's, and it's not a B movie like most of the others that came out at the time. Nothing much is an issue,... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old July 26, 2017

Awesome movie!

I think that this should be one of the first sci-fi movies that a kid should watch. It is not scary or violent. I like the alien looks just like a human, and no... Continue reading

What's the story?

In this classic 1951 sci-fi film, a charismatic foreigner lands on Earth, determined to deliver a message of peace despite people's fear and distrust. When a flying saucer lands in Washington, D.C., the army cordons it off. Spectators watch as a panel opens and Klaatu, a human-looking alien, emerges. While he declares his peaceful intentions, a trigger-happy soldier shoots him, provoking Klaatu's indestructible robot, Gort, to vaporize the army's entire arsenal. After escaping from the hospital where he's being observed, Klaatu borrows some earth clothes and seeks out the brilliant Professor Barnhardt, to whom he reveals his mission. He has come as an emissary to warn earthlings that their atomic weapons pose a threat to the peace and security of other planets, and that they must disarm or their planet will be "eliminated." But can Klaatu impart his message to all of the nations' representatives before alien paranoia causes panic?

Is it any good?

One of the finest science fiction movies of the 1950s, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL retains its impact and its dignity half a century later. Hopefully no one will ever try to remake this movie, because the earnestness that drives it would be near impossible to recapture. The effects, understated and very competent, would resemble those in 1999's soulless Lost in Space. So please, movie-remaking people, leave this one alone!

Michael Rennie's striking posture and stern, hatchet-like face make for a convincing alien. Patricia Neal is also admirable as Helen, the woman who unwittingly boards her spare room to him but then tries to help him. Children will find a character to relate to in Bobby, Helen's young son who finds a father figure in the man from space. Released during the Cold War, this film was a rarity for depicting its otherworldly visitor as an ambassador of peace. Though young viewers may find the robot and spaceship unimpressive by modern standards, Klaatu's mission will engage them, and the message of non-violence could spur good discussions about the importance of world peace.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the alien Klaatu brings the thought-provoking question of world peace to the screen, and how safe our world is today.

  • How do you think alien visitors would be treated today, in the age of films such as Independence Day?

Movie details

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