Marc Bernardin
April 11, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Day the Earth Stood Still

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
performer
Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Sam Jaffe
director
Robert Wise
author
Edmund H. North
genre
Sci-fi and Fantasy

We gave it an A

It’s the scariest movie I’ve seen in a long while, and not simply because of the story — a knowing, mature sci-fi morality play about a spaceman who comes to Earth with a grave warning about our future. No, Robert Wise’s film is frightening because its themes so eerily mirror our war with Iraq. Fearful that our aggression as a species will escalate beyond our terrestrial borders, alien emissary Klaatu (Rennie) scolds the world’s assembled minds with words that could be from President Bush’s State of the Union address: ”There must be security for all, or no one is secure.” In the film’s rather brave ending, humanity is left with a sobering set of options: annihilation or peace guaranteed by the presence of superior, undeniable force. Today’s sci-fi filmmakers could learn a thing or two from an old black-and-white gem that has the here and now written all over it.

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