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DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: The Day the Earth Stood Still (Recommended) (1 Viewer)


Senior HTF Member
May 9, 2002
Real Name
Cameron Yee
The Day the Earch Stood Still (1951)

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Release Date: December 2, 2008
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Packaging/Materials: Double-disc DVD case
Year: 1951
Rating: G
Running Time: 1h32m
MSRP: $19.98

AudioDolby Digital: English 5.1, English Mono, Spanish Mono, French Mono
SubtitlesEnglish, Spanish

The Feature: 4/5
Intergalactic space relations get an inauspicious start when Klaatu (Michael Rennie), an alien bearing an important message for Earth, is summarily shot by a jittery U.S. Army soldier. Thankfully Klaatu is the understanding sort and stops his laser beam shooting robot, Gort, from doing more than just vaporizing the Army's weapons. But his understanding gets its true test when the leaders of the world show the same level of suspicion, treating him like a criminal and rebuffing his requests for assembly to discuss the fate of the planet. If not for Helen and Bobby Benson (Patricia Neal and Billy Gray), a mother and son who embody the best the planet has to offer, he probably would have written the world off long ago. Grabbing everyone's attention will obviously require some dramatic action; unfortunately it may mean Klaatu having to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Fans of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" love to point out the parallels between the alien Klaatu and Jesus Christ. Sure, Klaatu comes from the heavens, becomes a Carpenter, dies, and is ultimately resurrected, but I've always wondered who Gort, that great lunk of a peacekeeping robot, represents? Perhaps Gort is just Gort - clunky but endearing, not unlike the script's messianic allusions. The pointed anti-war message is still relevant of course, though the cynic in me gave up on popular entertainment effecting world change long ago (though I'm curious whether the upcoming remake will still be anti-war or if it will go for something environmental). For me, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is ultimately about classic science fiction fun - reveling in the wavering tones of the theremin, geeking out over giant robots, and intoning that timeless phrase, "Klaatu Barada Nikto."

Video Quality: 4/5
The film is correctly framed at 1.33:1 and generally blemish-free. Black levels are very good, stable and inky. Fine object detail is decent, as seen in the varying cloth textures, though fine patterns can be subject to slight noise. Film grain is treated reasonably well with minimal compression artifacts, though background areas may show some fluttering. The image also shows noticeable edge halos along high contrast edges.

The transfer appears largely identical to the one on the 2002 "Studio Classics" release.

Audio Quality: 3.5/5
The 448 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is mostly front focused with some modest support for the score in the surrounds. Dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible and the track in general sounds clean and full with little in the way of unnecessary manipulation. For purists the disc also includes a 192 kbps mono option.

Special Features: 5/5
The special features have been expanded considerably from the 2002 "Studio Classics" release, though the 80-minute documentary "Making the Earth Stand Still" and restoration demonstration have not been carried over. Previously released extras have been tagged in green.


"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (2008) Preview (7m49s): The preview of the upcoming remake starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly plays automatically upon disc load and can be skipped with the chapter forward button. Anamorphic video with stereo audio.

Audio Commentary by Director Robert Wise and Nicholas Meyer (Director, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"): Meyer serves as interviewer on the track, asking a lot of questions about Wise's methods and tastes, and the pair cover a lot of informative ground.

Audio Commentary by Film and Music Historians John Morgan, Steven Smith, William Stromberg, and Nick Redman: The quartet provide a highly informed discussion about the film's score, which was written by Bernard Herrmann, and makes a great companion to the isolated score.

Isolated Score: In 192 kbps mono.

The Making of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (23m53s): Nicely produced documentary covers the requisite points, including story development, casting, production, and scoring. Anamorphic video with stereo audio.

"The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin" (5m40s): Musician Peter Pringle provides a quick tour of the radio wave-based theremin, along with a look at the instrument's use in the film's score. Anamorphic video with stereo audio.

Main Title Live Performance by Peter Pringle (2m17s): Pringle shows us what it takes to play the fascinating instrument. Anamorphic video with stereo audio.

"Farewell to the Master" - A Reading by Jamieson K. Price (41m29s): The audio track features Price reading the Harry Bates short story that inspired the film.

Fox Movietonews (1951) (6m22s): The archival news reel includes a brief mention of the film receiving a certificate at a science fiction convention, while the stories surrounding the fluff piece include the world's fight against communism in Asia.

Teaser Trailer (1m01s)

Theatrical Trailer (2m09s)

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (2008) Trailer (1m48s) Anamorphic video with stereo audio.


"Decoding 'Klaatu Barada Nikto': Science Fiction as Metaphor" (16m14s): The documentary provides historical context for the film and analyzes its themes and messages. Anamorphic video with stereo audio.

"A Brief History of Flying Saucers" (34m02s): Detailed documentary looks at the UFO phenomenon since the 1940s, focusing specifically on the Roswell Incident. Anamorphic video with stereo audio.

"The Astounding Harry Bates" (11m03s): Profile on the science fiction author. Anamorphic video with stereo audio.

"Edmund North: The Man Who Made the Earth Stand Still" (14m44s): Detailed profile on the screenwriter who adapted the Bates short story for the film. Anamorphic video with stereo audio.

"'Race to Oblivion': A Documentary Short Written and Produced by Edmund North" (26m42s): In 1982 North wrote and produced this nuclear disarmament public service announcement for the Physicians for Social Responsibility. Burt Lancaster hosts the affecting piece that includes frank descriptions of the effects of a nuclear bomb and a moving interview with a survivor of Hiroshima.

Galleries: The sizable image collection includes an "interactive pressbook," advertising materials, behind-the-scenes stills, portraits, production stills, spaceship construction blueprints, and the shooting script.


The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

A classic of the sci-fi genre gets very good audio and video treatment and a stellar set of extras, though the significantly expanded set does not carry over a couple notable items from the previous release. Though the new edition is still worthy of a double-dip, owners of the "Studio Classics" release should hold onto it to have the most complete set of extras, as well as the superior cover art. Recommended.

Ed St. Clair

Senior HTF Member
May 7, 2001
Thanks for the review!
Glad you mentioned the doc "The Making of..." is way shorter.

(too badd this doesn't use the bitchin PAL cover, still interesting tho)

Chris S

Senior HTF Member
Apr 9, 2000
Real Name
Chris S
Considering I still have a VHS copy lying around this will be a triple dip for me. But I'm not worried since this is an absolute classic title and one of my personal favorites. Thanks for the review!


Supporting Actor
Feb 4, 2008
Real Name
Billy Feldman
I know it's minor, but might want to correct the spelling of Herrmann.

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