American Sci-Fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), features the arrival of a humanoid alien Klaatu and his powerful robot companion 'Gort' to a Cold War state Earth. Together, they bring a warning to the people of Earth to mend their erroneous ways or face total annihilation.
As Klaatu greets us bearing a gift and message of peace, man's initial reaction is violence by striking out with gunfire. This evidently becomes the crux of the film where the violent nature of man prevents him from his own salvation. The film effectively serves as a criticism of the destructive nature of man, particularly in wake of the Cold War and the discovery of the atomic bomb. The moral implications to this day are undeniable, imparting peace and understanding amongst the constant fear of our own self-annihilation.
Despite Klaatu being an advocate for peace, one cannot help but find it a little ironic that their answer to maintain peace is to build robots of complete destructive power to serve as ever watchful sentinels. Peace is maintained through the terrifying and relentless nature of Gort with its uncompromising judgement. To build such machines, it seems Klaatu's people are unable to resolve violence themselves resorting to threats and fear. Perhaps, even Klaatu is not here to save us, but rather to threaten us with destruction if man embarks with space travel bearing weapons.
With visuals that capture our fascination of an otherworldly alien race superior to our own, its hardly surprising to find the film has been heralded as a landmark film in the sci-fi genre, withstanding the test of time as an enduring classic . Imagery of a spaceship landing in the heart of America and the machine of Gort himself have become all too iconic in the sci-fi genre.
Overall, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a profound sci-fi film unlike any other, capturing the iconic qualities of otherworldly beings and technology, as well as delivering a true heartfelt message of peace and understanding with the seemingly inevitable advent of violence and annihilation.