On December 12th, 2008, 20th Century Fox will be releasing their remake of the 1951 classic SF film The Day The Earth Stood Still. (Click the pic to go to the TDTESSTWTOMD webpage.)
The new version stars Keeanu Reeves and will benefit(?) from 57 years of film-making advances.
57 years is enough time for two generations to have passed since Michael Renne starred in the original.
That’s more than enough time to guarantee that the audience going to see this remake is unlikely to even be aware that it is a remake, and certainly more than enough time for anyone who has seen the original to forget how utterly fantastic and spot on it was. Not just for its own time, but for all time.
That is why it is so very important for those of us who have seen and do remember the original to make sure that anyone who goes to see the remake will have seen the original BEFORE they do.
Nivair Gabriel, writing on IO9, explains some of the many reasons why:
There is no reason to remake something that is absolutely perfect.
Remakes insinuate that there was something deficient about the original movie, that it’s somehow necessary to update the film for today’s audiences. The vast majority of the cinema-going crowd will watch the version with the actors they know in an instant, and never bother to rent the first one.
We might be afraid of terrorists now instead of communists, but we still haven’t managed to end nuclear proliferation and create lasting worldwide peace. I think there’s still quite a lot to The Day the Earth Stood Still’s message that we might pose a threat to the rest of the universe if we can’t get a grip on our violent tendencies; and I think Klaatu’s non-destructive way of shocking humanity into action is even more brilliant today.
Michael Rennie’s alien, by the way, is an example of a truly flawless and understated performance; anyone who thinks that Keanu Reeves can show that up should stop reading now to go smack their head against a wall a few times. I don’t want to see any current child actor try to replace Bobby Benson; Billy Gray’s adorable portrayal of The Most Fifties Boy Ever will warm my heart for all time.
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a treasure; it’s one of the best films we humans have ever managed to produce. It was fabulous in 1951 and it’s only matured with age, like the finest sci-fi-themed wine in all the world. The movie packs a huge amount of vision about human identity and aspirations — in fact, it’s almost impossible to believe it was made eighteen years before we Earthlings reached the moon. So why in the name of everything beautiful would a person want to taint those waters with a totally unnecessary rehash?
The viewing public has a right to be exposed to the original before they see the remake; they have a right to judge the two side by side – BEFORE the computer-generated dazzle has a chance to influence them. They have a right to view these films in their historical order, to be free from hype and marketing blitz before they are asked to choose which one they prefer.
The only fair and decent way to give the original the credit it is due is for everyone who has ever seen it to pledge that they will get at least one other person to watch the film before December 12th, 2008.
That is why I have declared December 10th, 2008 to be THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL TO WATCH THE ORIGINAL MOVIE DAY day.
I have added a page to my website that provides all of the necessary links – no need to rent or purchase a DVD, no need to schedule a special viewing. Just grab your friends, siblings and significant others, sit them down in front of the ‘puter and watch.
I’ve also added links to the original story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates, the original soundtrack, movie posters and even model kits based on the original film.
If you would like to keep track of how many people you’ve gotten to watch the film, post a message in the comments of this post.
I’ve already done my bit – I got Karen, my wife, to sit still through the whole thing. She likes super hero movies better than SF ones, but she enjoyed every minute of it. Her comment – why are they bothering to remake it?
Visit the webpage, stick 12.10.08 on your calendar and get others to watch!