The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) - 2-Disc Special Edition

Genre(s): Science Fiction
Fox || NR - 92 minutes - $19.98 || December 2, 2008
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2008-12-24

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Robert Wise
Writer(s): Harry Bates (story), Edmund North (screenplay)
Cast: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe, Billy Gray, Francis Bavier

Theatrical Release Date: September 28, 1951

Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Feature Commentaries
  • Isolated Score Track
  • Featurettes
  • Farewell to the Master
  • Fox Movie to News (1951)
  • Trailers

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Full Frame (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Mono), Spanish (Mono), French (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Science Fiction films sure have changed over the past decades. Movies like Aliens and Night of the Living Dead no longer terrify audiences like they did. Instead, movies chose to use cheap scare tactics to get a fright with loud noises to attract attention. Some changes are welcome, others are not. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) is a flick that canít stand the test of time, sadly.

Klaatu (Michael Rennie) lands on earth from a space ship, and is seen as a giant threat to the human civilization. Even though he attempts to be peaceful, a random soldier ends up shooting him and injuring him. Amazingly enough, he recovers within a short amount of time and is just fine.

He roams around town and assumes an alias to fit in with the humans. He befriends a little child as well as a few others and discusses the fate of the human world. Itís hard to not spoil the film by talking about it, since it is possible to give away the slightest clue about the ending by talking about it too much. Itís Klaatuís goal to see if the civilization deserves to live and tests them by turning off all electrical equipment for half an hour. But can Klaatu show the humans the errors of their ways?

The basic premise of the film deals with humans trying to realize that the way they are acting is harmful not only to themselves but others. Itís one of those movies with a giant ďmessageĒ for people to change. It was made in 1951, which is evident by the fact that the entire film is in black and white. There are subtle hints that people should respect the environment, respect each other, among other things.

While not the perfect movie for me, Iím sure others will find this to be enjoyable trip down memory lane. It just wasnít something that I found enjoyable. The plot is predictable as are the characters. Iím sure it was a major cinema breaking experience back in the day, but it fails to stand the test of time.


Almost all of the special features are presented in black and white.

Disc 1

Commentary by Director Robert Wise and Nicholas Meyer: Robert Wise and Nicholas talk about the movie, hardships, etc. Wise and Meyer are rather boring though, and this track is only worth it if you are a huge fan of the movie.

Commentary by Film and Music Historians John Morgan, Steven Smith, William Stromberg, and Nick Redman: The four discuss the filmís cast and crew. Itís an interesting track to check out if youíve got some free time and want to know more about the background of the people.

Isolated Score Track: Exactly what it sounds like, dialogue is removed from the movie, leaving only the sounds to be heard. Not really sure why you would want to hear the entire movie without dialogue...

The Making of The Day the Earth Stood Still (23 minutes): A fairly lengthy feature that talks about the cast and film. Several people commentate on how the movie was made, why it was made, basically anything you wanted to know about the movie can be viewed here.

The Mysterious Melodious Theremin (6 minutes): A feature on some sort of stick that makes noise. Apparently noise scared people back in the 50ís.

The Day the Earth Stood Still Main Title Live Performance by Peter Pringle (2 minutes): Pringle shows how the music is made for the opening sequence.

Farewell to the Master: A Reading by Jamieson K. Price of the Original Harry Bates Short Story (41 minutes): A reading by Price of the original story.

Fox Movie to News (1951) (6 minutes): A newscast from 1951.

Last on this disc are some trailers for both 1951 and 2008 versions of the film.

Disc 2
Decoding ďKlaatue Barada NiktoĒ Science Fiction as a Metaphor (16 minutes): Discussion about how science fiction can be tied in with real life events. Itís interesting if you want to know more about why the movie was made.

A Brief History of Flying Saucers (34 minutes): Various people talk about flying saucers, sightings, etc. Itís entertaining to watch and learn more about flying saucers, but odds are youíve seen something along the lines of this before.

The Astounding Harry Bates (11 minutes): This chronicles the life of Harry Bates, and how ďastoundingĒ came to be.

Edmund North: The Man Who Made The Earth Stand Still (15 minutes): North is chronicled in this feature, such as his anti-war views and his passion for history.

Race to Oblivion Documentary Short (26 minutes): A piece made by Edmund North about nuclear war, war in general, death, the list goes on and on. Worth a look.


The restoration to a film over 50 years old has not been kind. Even in black and white, the video transfer has horrible issues. Grain is apparent in every scene and there are incredible amounts of noise in various scenes throughout the film. Contrast is also heavily off, as the film has a dark overtone, whether intentional or not by the company, which makes some scenes difficult to see.

On the audio side, the same holds true. The film defaults to a Mono track, and even though there is a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround option as well, it doesnít fare much better. The front is mainly used, and even for a surround track, the side speakers were sparingly used. Dialogue levels are also fairly low and inconsistent throughout the movie. I understand that it is an old film, but the audio needs some strict improvement if they plan to rerelease this alongside the remake at some point in 2009.


While The Day the Earth Stood Still may be a classic to some, I found it to be the exact opposite. I know that film has come a long way since then and since my movie tastes differ from others, but I just did not enjoy this one. The audio and video are also well below average for a DVD release, and the special features are really there for fans only. Itís hard to recommend this for more than a rental, as odds are you wonít be re-watching it anytime soon. Stand still and wait until another eventual release later on down the road.