I’ve recently dived into doing ”best of’ lists, so as I’ve explained, I’ve decided to do my top 20 SF films. This is my personal list, so feel free to disagree with it and of course, you’ll be horribly wrong.
Previously at # 20, The Matrix, 19, Seconds, 18, A Boy and His Dog, 17, Sunshine, 16, Dark Star, 15, Rollerball, 14 Altered States, 13, Close Encounters of the Third Kind ,12, Forbidden Planet, 11, The Star Wars Trilogy, 10. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, 9, Dark City, 8, 12 Monkeys and 7, Starship Troopers.
At number six, it’s the only version of The Day the Earth Stood Still worth watching.
Why is director Robert Wise’s film so good? It’s simple; it’s just a perfect morality tale told within a SF context, but unlike a lot of other 1950’s American SF films, it’s critical of America. It’s hardly Marxist cinema but for a film at the height of the Red Scare to turn it’s eye upon it’s own country is remarkable, but then again this is still a remarkable film because it’s ultimately a pacifist film with a humanist heart.
The plot is simply that an alien representing a loose collective of alien civilisations comes to the Earth to warn us about our war-like ways, and to sort it out or else Michael Rennie is going to set his robot Gort on us and then we’ll be fucked.
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a blissful film. I can remember being gripped by it the first time I saw it as a boy when the BBC used to show of 1950’s films in the timeslot where Eastenders now lurks. This ended up being somewhat of an education for me as they’d often show old SF films, and this was one of them so that every since that evening in the 1970’s I’ve loved this film though we don’t talk about the remake. Ever.
There is no better 1950’s SF film. This is as good as you can get.
Next time, long live the new flesh….