"It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder."
Description: ” Michael Rennie as Klaatu, an outer space alien delivers a warning to the human race in the classic sci-fi motion picture The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).
Klaatu, is a tall, slender emissary from a distant federation of planets who has traveled to Earth in a flying saucer to deliver a message to the people of earth. When he lands his spacecraft in the middle of Washington, D.C. Klaatu exits the craft and proclaims, "We have come to visit you in peace and with goodwill."
He then takes something out of his space suit (a gift that he has brought for the people of Earth.) Suddenly, a nervous soldier thinking the gift is a weapon shoots Klaatu and as a result of this show of violence, Gort, a towering robot with scanning laser eyes appears from the spacecraft to protect his master.
The robot's laser eyes begins to shoot deadly beams that melt the rifles, cannons and tanks that have surrounded the craft. Klaatu, although injured, halts the destruction and the army takes the wounded alien to Walter Reed Hospital.
While under "protective custody" Klaatu's wounds rapidly heal. He then asks to speak to the leaders of the world. Unfortunately, he is given the run around by a bureaucrat who tells Klaatu that it would impossible to get all of the leaders of the world to agree to his request. When the bureaucrat fails to comply with his wish, Klaatu disappears into the city. New reports of the alien soon fill the airwaves and fear spreads among the populace.
Seeking shelter, Klaatu, in the guise of a businessman named Mr. Carpenter, gets lodging at a boarding home owned by Mrs. Crockett (Edith Evanson) where he meets widow Helen Benson (Patricia Neal), a secretary at the Department of Commerce, and her precocious son, Bobby (Billy Gray). Klaatu uses the boarding house as a base of operations to survey the humans and discover more about its people.
Soon after, Klaatu volunteers to babysit Tommy who gives the alien a tour of Washington, D.C., including Arlington Cemetery where his father - killed at Anzio in World War II - is buried.
As they tour the Lincoln Memorial, Klaatu reads the wise words carved in the walls, and comments "He must have been a great man...That's the kind of man I would like to talk to." Bobby suggests that Professor Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe), a brilliant scientist is such a man and so they visit Barnhardt's home only to find the man is not there. While there, Klaatu notices a complex mathematical formula on a chalk board is incorrect and provides the correct solution to the equation as a calling card.
When Barnhardt sees the impressive display of knowledge, he rightfully assumes it must be the alien and arranges to meet with Klaatu, at which time, Barnhardt agrees to a meeting of influential scientist so Klaatu can deliver a warning to the people of earth. Professor Barnhardt suggests that if Klaatu could offer a demonstration to showcase the alien's power, maybe that would be enough to get people's attention and focus on his mission to earth.
|Barnhardt:||One thing, Mr. Klaatu: suppose this group should reject your proposals. What is the alternative?|
|Klaatu:||I'm afraid there is no alternative. In such a case, the planet Earth would have to be...eliminated|
|Barnhardt:||Such power exists?|
|Klaatu:||I assure you, such power exists.|
As a demonstration of his power, Klaatu causes all electrical current on the planet to cease for one half-hour beginning at 12:00 noon (making sure that no one is hurt, such as allowing airplanes to stay flying and vital medical equipment to still operate).
At the appointed time Klaatu is inside of an elevator with Tommy's mother. While they wait for the power to be restored, Klaatu gives Helen an important task. If anything should happen to him, she must go to Gort the robot and issue this command: "Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!" This would keep the robot from carrying out a destruct program that would obliterate humanity.
Later, the military track down Klaatu and again shoot him, this time killing him. Tommy's mom then rushes to Gort who by now has melted away a plastic casing meant to immobilize him. As Gort sees the woman, he opens his visor ready to destroy her, but just in the nick of time she delivers her message. Gort then retrieves Klaatu's body, returns it to the flying saucer as Gort uses a strange technology to restore Klaatu's life.
As she watches as Klaatu comes back to life, Helen Benson asks, "You mean...he has the power of life and death? Klaatu replies, "No. That power is reserved to the Almighty Spirit. This technique, in some cases, can restore life for a limited period."
Resurrected from death, Klaatu prepares to leave earth, but before he goes, he steps outside of his craft and delivers this final message to the people of earth.
"I am leaving soon, and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all, or no one is secure.
Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them. We, of the other planets, have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it.
For our policemen, we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked. At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk.
The result is, we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war. Free to pursue more... profitable enterprises. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts.
It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you."
Note: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) was based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates, which was originally published in the pulp magazine "Astounding Science-Fiction.”
The film was remade in 2008 starring Keanu Reeves as Klaatu who comes to earth - landing in New York City in a huge sphere - to arrange the world's destruction because humanity's polluting ways are destroying the planet.
Before all traces of humanity are wiped off the face of the planet, the alien arranges to take all other vital life forms into holding stations (space arks) while the alien's restore the planet for repopulation of those species. But after speaking to Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese), and doctor Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) Klaatu decides humanity deserves another chance and cancels the destruct protocols that had since been eating away at the planet's surface.
The remake features a robot referred to as Gort ("Genetically Organized Robotic Technology") that is more immense and more powerful than the original 1950s version.