A flying saucer lands in Washington, causing widespread paranoia. Emerging from thesaucer are the ominous robot Gort, and the human-looking Klaatu (Michael Rennie). Klaatucomes with a warning for Earth (get your act together or be wiped out), but he will speak only torepresentatives from all nations. This turns out to be a difficult proposition. Klaatu escapes fromthe authorities and blends in with the population as he learns about humans. The questionbecomes whether he wil… be hunted down and killed before he delivers his message. Many ofthe special effects still look good, and even those that are no longer as convincing (such as whenGort walks) are still effective because of the strength of their conception. Gort in particular isan awe-inspiring creation. The themes of the film, remarkable in a Cold War context, have lostnone of their resonance.
The sound comes in both the original mono and 2.0 stereo. The surround mix isn’t bad fora 1951 picture, but there are some problems. The voices, in particular, have got that sillysurround effect, and there is a fair bit of static and buzz from the rear speakers during dialogue.The music, on the other hand, sounds great (again, for a track this old). Bernard Herrmann’sscore has never sounded more majestic and ominous. The sound effects of the landing of thesaucer are also extremely effective.
First, the flaws: some grain now and then, some edge enhancement, a couple of speckles.Now the good news: the black and white is otherwise gorgeous, with all of the shades of greyperfectly preserved. The blacks are so deep they’re almost abyssal.
Now here is a disc that justifies using both sides of the DVD. Side A features a commentaryby director Robert Wise, in the form of a conversation with fellow filmmaker Nicolas Meyer.Their talk covers just about everything about the film, and what you don’t find out here is sureto be covered by one of the other extras. Also on this side: the theatrical trailer, a THXOptimizer, and a Movietone reel from 1951, which has a brief mention of the film, but isotherwise a fascinating snapshot of the state of world politics at that time.
Side B is loaded. You’ve got trailers for Journey to the Center of the Earth and One MillionYears BC, a restoration comparison (curious that the 1993 laser disc looks so much better thanthe 1995 film print), and a huge photo gallery. Its categories are Production; Scene and SetPhotos; the Shooting Script (a very nice inclusion); Construction Blue Prints for Ship; Americanand British Pressbooks; and Posters, Lobby Cards, Spaceship Model and Gort. Now THAT is aphoto gallery. On top of everything else is “Making the Earth Stand Still” – a 70 minutedocumentary, with heavy participation from director Robert Wise and producer JulianBlaustein.
The menu has a scored and animated main page, intro and transition to the film. The otherpages are appropriately scored.
Easily one of the jewels of Fox’s Studio Classics collection, and a very nice surprise to seean SF film treated to such a deluxe release.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer
- Audio Commentary
- Movetone Newsreel
- Bonus Trailers
- Still Galleries
- Restoration Comparison
- “Making the Earth Stand Still” Documentary