Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Day A Bad Movie Was Released And The Earth Stood Still

Now, I'm not a movie snob.  At least I don't think I am.  I keep an open mind for all films – whether they're from France or America (sometimes even India), whether they cost $10k or $400m to make and whether a film was made in the 20s or the noughties, it shouldn't really impact on whether it is any good or not.  I understand that films from the silver age or the golden age don't quite meet the modern expectation for realistic portrayals of human behaviour.  Films from the past were often a bit more 'theatrical' and could seem staged when compared to more recent films where everyone tries to be a 'method' man.  It is a certainty that the medium of film has become a lot more sophisticated in recent years but that doesn't stop film makers from producing dreck.  That said, I'm quite lost by the classicification of 'The Day The Earth Stood Still'.

Admittedly, the main reason for me seeking this one out was because I wanted to have a good frame of reference for watching the remake that's due to hit cinemas this year (or next?).  Already the internet has spoken of its utter disgust at having Keanu play Klaatu in the remake – Keanu doesn't have the gravity to play such an important character.  Well, now I can say that I've seen 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' and I can't think of any reason why we couldn't have Keanu Reeves playing that role.  Hell, that role could be played by Jim Carrey if you want it to be commensurate with Michael Rennie's version.   

But really, this film is not failed by the acting (which isn't that bad really) but ultimately by the directing and, more importantly, the script.  Yes, it has a strong message that peace is THE way (which is a good message) but, come on, it is so bafflingly bad.  It's like a film version of a children's book.  The message is so unrealistic that it cannot be taken seriously.  I cannot believe, even at the height of cold war tension, that if an alien spaceship landed in Washington the world's leaders wouldn't drop everything and at least listen to what he has to say.  Even the most trigger happy soldier wouldn't shoot a visiting alien unless it was in retaliation.  I am aware that the whole aim of the film is to point a finger at humanity's aggression and paranoia but it's done in such a simplistic manner as to make it unbelievable.  And that squanders any plausibility that the message might have.  And let's not forget the hypocrisy of the message in the first place – we live in the era of the 'unjust war' – sometimes it's right to go in with guns and sometimes it's not.  Life is not so simple that we can just tell someone to give up their weapons and their wars.  Wars are started for bad reasons and noble reasons and just because an all powerful alien tells us to stop doesn't mean that we should.  It sounds a lot like a super power meddling in the affairs of a conflict that it doesn't properly understand.   

PS – Why does the soldier burst into Klaatu's hospital room to discover him gone when in the previous shot he just strolled up to the door?  Can you explain that one to me, Arthur C Clarke? 

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