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The Day the Writing Stood Still

January 14th, 2009 7 comments

John B. Rosenman

copy-of-2082387630_e34c8da1b8_mI’m a child of the fifties, which means that I loved and continue to love SF/Horror movies of that period, even the bad ones. The Eisenhower fifties were a naïve, simpler period in many ways, and this naïve simplicity was reflected in the movies. They often might have been crude and simplistic, but one sin they seldom committed was overlying on CGI and special effects to carry the storyline. Stylistically, they were unpretentious and imbued with an honesty that went with lower budgets and more modest aspirations.

In short, they told their stories in straightforward fashion and with little fuss, which is something that storytellers, especially in this age of high-tech theater glitz would do well to remember.

Recently I went with my wife and son to see the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Naturally, in this advanced, high-tech age, we saw it on an IMAX screen, which is roughly the size of Jupiter. For those of you familiar with the 1951 classic starring Michael Rennie as Klaatu, the special effects are minimalist but effective. A flying saucer lands in Washington, D.C., and Rennie emerges from it in a spacesuit. As a visitor, he is restrained, dignified, charismatic, and just different enough to make us believe he is an alien. Besides the ship, the only other significant piece of hardware is a robot named Gort, actually a 7’ doorman wearing a metal-like suit.

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