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The Day the Earth Stood Still

Working from Edmund H. North's unusually literate adaptation of Harry Bates's short story "Farewell to the Master," Robert Wise created a classic science fiction film with a strong pacifist message. Sent by a federation of planets to warn the people of Earth to stop nuclear testing before the planet is destroyed, the Christ-like Rennie descends into Washington, D.C., in his spaceship, accompanied by his massive robot, Gort. When an American soldier panics and shoots Rennie, Gort eliminates them, but the wounded Rennie stops the robot from destroying the planet. Taken to a military hospital, Rennie escapes and, posing as a normal human, seeks shelter in Neal's boarding house. Here he begins to learn that Earth people really are not so bad. Since he can make no formal contact with the governments of Earth, Rennie arranges a demonstration of his power that justifies the title of the film. Superb performances by all involved, restrained direction by Wise, and a magnificent and innovative score by Bernard Herrmann help keep this 35-year-old film just as relevant today as it was the day it was released.