Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

Great movies you should see no.1: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

Posted by Jason O on Dec 30, 2010 in Just stuff |

Oooh! Big Shiny Robot! We're in trouble now! The 1951 version I’m talking about, not the 2008 version where Keanu Reeves stares blankly (for a change) at people. The movie tells the story of an alien vistor and his giant robot who land in Washington DC  to deliver a message to humanity. Michael Rennie (Who has a touch of Ryan Tubridy As Elder Statesman about him) plays Klaatu, the alien messenger.

What is most interesting about the movie is that it was written when the anti-communist scare was just beginning to take off in the US, and yet dismisses rabid anti-communism as just a parochial human concern which is missing the big picture. The film is best remembered for Klaatu’s final speech to a collection of world scientists (The world’s leaders refused to meet him!) where he clarifies humanity’s options in stark terms. It sounds almost like an anti-Neocon polemic, or curiously like George Bush Senior’s Gulf war policy. Basically, you can do what you want, but interfere with other countries and you’re toast! I’ve posted it below if you don’t mind me ruining the ending of the movie.


Klaatu’s speech:

 ” I am leaving soon and you’ll 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 signs 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.”

1 Comment

a weckler
Dec 28, 2008 at 7:32 pm

“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.”

So basically a guy with a big gun says ‘do what we say or you’re dead’. Nice principle. Should please a lot of dodgy characters.

ps Carter was history’s greatest monster


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