Monday 26 January 2009

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)...

I've still not seen the remake - and nor did I want to until I'd seen the original film. Well, now I have seen the original, so I'm all open for seeing the remake now for a good old compare-and-contrast sesh.

I really enjoyed TDTESS, and the simple old-school pleasures of a classic flying saucer and the imposing figure of Gort, and indeed I could now fully enjoy the gag from Evil Dead 3 about "klaatu, berrata, ni-*cough-cough-cough*".

In fact, I watched TDTESS with my Dad, who had seen the movie when he was a young lad in the cinema upon a second run of the film, and we both revelled in the chuckles that hindsight provides.

Obviously it was a totally different world back then - these days "Carpenter" would be automatically labelled a paedophile at the very mention of taking the leading lady's young boy out for the day around the city - but clearly not so back then.

It really is a cinematic classic however, and the plot holes don't matter in the end (e.g. why only two measily guards outside the spaceship, why did nobody take a picture of 'The Man From Mars' with his helment off etc), because this film deeply speaks for the time in which it was made. The fresh threat of Communism and the recent discovery of atomic energy.

Indeed, the idea that "Carpenter" and Gort are merely policing the galaxy and suggest we'd be wise to quit our warring ways is interesting - for once the alien invader isn't the bad guy, and in this case it is planet earth who is seen as the bad guy.

It's also interesting that both sides look down on each other - we earthlings cock our brows at "Carpenter" as he surely has no idea how complex human society is, and he vice-versa treats us similarly in terms of earthlings being basic animals playing with primative tools.

The conclusion however - essentially, "don't be violent under the fear of galactic violence" - left food for thought, and having recently re-watched A Clockwork Orange, the theme and idea of "choice" came into play. For a race of space-men so advanced, they still resort to threats to cease a threat. There is no choice for mankind. We are threatened, in a somewhat bullying way, to be peaceful or we'll all be blown up.

You don't choose to live peacefully, you only decide to out of fear - mind you, the film doesn't go that far or gets into such a meaty issue.

It'll be interesting to see how the remake handles the original, and as I watched it I was thinking to myself how certain images or sequences could easily be translated into our world 50-odd years on. But importantly - which one will have the purest vision.

While TDTESS 1951 was no doubt populist in its general presentation, it was quite something for its different take on the alien invader story while everybody else thereafter would indulge in gleefully exploitative notions of giant ants, 50ft women and so on.

Will TDTESS 2008 feel cold and corporate? Will it feel too flashy, too smoothly made? Will it blow it all and churn out another lame-arse remake, which is usually the case of late when it comes to remakes of cinematic classics. When I see the 2008 version, I'll be sure to ponder these thoughts.

No comments: