Sunday, September 14, 2008

"The Day The Earth Stood Still"--remake

1951



2008



The remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still will have general theatrical release on December 12th. It is difficult to evaluate the film based on the trailer but one can infer, based on the small clip and some cinematic historical regularity, that the film in no way captures the spirit of the 1951 film and will no doubt be heavy on computer graphics to carry the bulk of the feel of the film. The 1951 film was characteristic of post war and emerging cold war depression feelings of a nuclear holocaust and a general sense of fear and fascination of alien life forms. The 57 year gap will offer a different perspective repleat with the latest technical gadgetry. I doubt that it will work. Sure, it may draw large, initial box office receipts but the film will have no long-lasting value. Historically, few "remakes" have equaled or excelled the original. Failures include Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The War of the Worlds. The only exception I can recall was the second remake of King Kong [2005].

I wrote on December 18th, 2005 about King Kong [2005]:

I was fortunate to view the new King Kong [loosely based on Jean-Jacques Rousseau's panegyric on the Noble Savage] film yesterday afternoon and, though I am not in the employ of Universal Pictures or receive any remuneration, I strongly recommend this film from many levels. It is a faithful and enhanced remake of the classic film from the 1930's. The computer generated graphics, save for one scene, were not intrusive in the flow of the human drama. The creatures, for the most part, were proportional, moved in a fluid manner, and appeared to be accurately based on current knowledge. Kong was exceptionally represented...even though it took 1/3 of the film to get to him, but well worth the wait. The new and refined relationship between mighty Kong and Ann Darrow was deepened and quite relevant to the story. Many of the original scenes were reproduced and new ones added. High adventure and a love story too--tears were shed, as usual, at the end. The only complaint--158 minutes is a bit long, but upon reflection it is justified. The relevance of this film could be argued for many years.

But, like art,..."beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder".

The Day The Earth Stood Still shooting script [1951]

3 comments:

Timray said...

I do not see the same aura that the original had. We who attended schools where we were taught to hide beneath desks and avoid windows are not this generation. Though we face dire situations there is almost a non-existent aura around the current dangers such as a dirty bomb. Personally I think the questions arising from the original film lack the ideal audience of those who lived through Hiroshima, World War II and witnessed the destructive power not just of weapons but societies bent upon destruction. That was the intent of the original film....get your societies peacefully together or be eliminated by those who do not want your kind in the universe. They may surprise me with the new film but I am not holding my breath.

DAVID L said...

Having seen "day earth stood stil" twice and having read many dismissive comments about all personnel and all art efforts and against all reinventions that make up this movie, I can honestly say I like it. I found it speaking to the world perhaps not as strongly ideologically and nor intellectually nor issue-ly,but that's on every blog, chat room,website, radio show editorial every day. What it did do is say OK doom's day is here, you have had your chances: go extinct, die! as it's not my blog, I stop here. I do wonder what the equations say on the black board. Please ferret that out,could you?

Mercury said...

Well David, I cannot comment on the film since I have not seen it. My only observations, as I mentioned, were based solely on the theatrical trailer. Obviously, you found some merit in the film even though I do not understand what you are saying...something to the effect that annihilation of the human species is inevitable and we should be somewhat Stoic about the whole event.

The equations I assume are the ones behind Dr. Barndardt in the 1951 film. This is a common artifice in television and motion pictures. It can, among other things, represent high academics, a scholarly atmosphere. I have seen many sci-fi/jorror films of the mad doctor in the laboratory surrounded by assorted chemical apparatus that in reality are incorrectly used or serve an unknown function. The same with people surrounded by volumes of books or, as in this case, standing in front of a blackboard filled with algebra and calculus equations that probably mean nothing at all--something the property master of the film production copied from a university physics 101 text. Who knows.