The Day the Earth Stood Still

Robert Wise

28 September 1951

Directed by Robert Wise and released in 1951, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a libertarian science fiction classic.  As M. Keith Booker writes,

The Day the Earth Stood Still, a statement in favor of international peace and cooperation at the height of the Cold War, was a courageous film that can rightly claim to be the first truly important work of American science fiction cinema.  A thoughtful, well-made, relatively high-budget film that was also a box-office success, The Day the Earth Stood Still demonstrated that science fiction on the screen need not be limited to low-budget B-films or films for children.  In so doing, it paved the way for future developments in the genre, setting the stage for the explosion in SF films that marked the decade of the 1950s.  At the same time, it also exerted a powerful influence on the look and sound of the SF films that followed it.

The movie is particularly remarkable for its political commentary, warning about the dangers that could arise from irresponsible use of nuclear power.  Growing military tension during the Cold War was of particular concern for Wise, who says he’d always been opposed to militarism.  To a lesser extent, the film also attacks xenophobia.

The film was loosely based on the short story “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates.


The Libertarian Themes

A Christian Allegory?

A Note on the Remake

The Opening Score on YouTube

The Trailer on YouTube

The Feature Film