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THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL

The Production
One of the most original and innovative films of the genre is the 1951 sci-fi classic "The Day The Earth Stood Still,” a truly groundbreaking movie that has influenced generations of scifi enthusiasts, authors and filmmakers. Directed by legendary filmmaker Robert Wise, the film tells the story of a benevolent, human-looking alien called Klaatu, who lands his spaceship in Washington D.C. with the goal of meeting with the leaders of Earth to warn that the violence that man is committing against man actually threatens the survival of other civilizations in the universe. With the help of Gort, his giant robotic bodyguard, Klaatu eludes the authorities who attempt to capture him and immerses himself in human culture to gain a better understanding of a species that seems committed to conflict and destruction. He befriends a widow and her son, and through the prism of their friendship he learns much about humanity – and ultimately challenges mankind to be its best version of itself.

The film was revolutionary, not only in its then-cutting edge conceptualization of aliens, spaceships and robots, but in its audacious variation on a familiar allegory for the escalating tensions of the early Cold War era. "The entire canon of science fiction in America in the Fifties was constructed in such a way as to reinforce Western fears of the Eastern Bloc,” notes producer Erwin Stoff. "The ‘other' to be feared was always a metaphor for Communism. What was remarkable about ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still' was that it placed the onus of responsibility on everyone equally. The ‘other' to fear was ourselves – the nature of man and the terrible violence that humanity is capable of.”

Another aspect of the film that sets it apart is the perspective from which it unfolds.

"One of the really unique things about the story is that it's told from the alien's point of view,” Stoff observes. "We've seen a lot of movies about aliens, but rarely do we see ourselves as the aliens.”

The idea of remaking "The Day the Earth Stood Still” first struck Stoff, who has managed Reeves for over 20 years, in the wake of their success on the 1994 blockbuster "Speed.” During a meeting with at Twentieth Century Fox studios, Stoff noticed a poster for the classic film hanging on the wall. "I said, ‘Forget about the project I came here to talk to you about. What we should do is develop ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still' with Keanu playing Klaatu,'” he remembers. "It seemed like a great idea, but for one reason or another, it didn't happen. Then, as destiny would have it, a draft showed up on my doorstep twelve years later.”

As re-conceived by screenwriter David Scarpa and director Scott Derrickson, the premise for the 2008 version of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is rooted not in man's violence against man, but in mankind's destruction of the Earth's environment. "I'm a tremendous fan of the original film,” Derrickson says. "It was so interesting and original and progressive for its time – in the visual effects, in the way it commented on the Cold War tensions of that era, in the idea of seeing humanity from an outsider's perspective. It's a truly great film, but most modern audiences haven't seen it. I feel like people deserve to know this story, and this was a fantastic opportunity to retell it in a way that addresses the issues and conflicts that are affecting us now.”

"There is nothing the original film says about the nature of mankind that isn't every bit as timely and relevant to this generation of movie audiences,” Stoff believes. "It's the specifics of the way we now have the capability to destroy ourselves that have changed. The evidence that we are doing potentially irreparable harm to the environment is pretty irrefutable. The challenges that we face today are no less daunting, and if we fail at them, no less lethal, than the ones tha

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