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Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Interplanetary Emissary Klaatu Are Not Anti-Atomic: A Reassessment of the Filmic Evidence

Kozlovic, Anton Karl 2021, Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Interplanetary Emissary Klaatu Are Not Anti-Atomic: A Reassessment of the Filmic Evidence, Humanities, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 1-17, doi: 10.3390/h10040107.

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Title Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Interplanetary Emissary Klaatu Are Not Anti-Atomic: A Reassessment of the Filmic Evidence
Author(s) Kozlovic, Anton Karl
Journal name Humanities
Volume number 10
Issue number 4
Article ID 107
Start page 1
End page 17
Total pages 17
Publisher MDPI AG
Place of publication Basel, Switzerland
Publication date 2021
ISSN 2076-0787
Summary Inspired by a 1940s short story by Harry Bates, scripted by Edmund H. North, and directed by Robert Wise, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) is a science fiction cult classic. Of all its diverse interpretations, a commonly adopted reading influenced by the dawning of the Atomic Age parades it as an anti-nuclear exemplar starring alien emissary Klaatu visiting Earth with his robot companion Gort to (supposedly) suppress humanity’s atomic progress. However, upon a close forensic inspection of the film and commentator comments, this anti-atomic claim is resoundingly rejected. Utilizing humanist film criticism as the guiding analytical lens (i.e., looking inside not outside the frame), plus a selective review of the critical literature, it was demonstrated that: (a) there is a dearth of atomic iconography and dialogue, (b) there is no mention of banning atomic energy or weapons, (c) Earth’s atomics are nascent and not serious threats to the Federation, and (d) Klaatu is not anti-atomic but proudly pro-atomic. Overall, this SF film is strongly pro-nuclear in intention, word, and deed, which was frequently misinterpreted due to faulty film criticism, invented facts, and jumping to conclusions, and thus in need of academic correction. Further research into alien first-contact scenarios, robotic artificial intelligence, and the moral make-up of the SF universe is warranted and long overdue
Language eng
DOI 10.3390/h10040107
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30155909

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.