Box art for The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

action & adventure, drama, sci-fi & fantasy, thrillers

Celebrate 75 years of Sci-Fi from 20th Century Fox. An alien emissary gives a dramatic demonstration of power when he attempts to warn mankind about the folly of atomic experimentation.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 9
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
Positive messages
4 out of 5
Positive role models
3 out of 5
0 out of 5
3 out of 5

A sci-fi, pro-peace classic with some threats and violence.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that at the core of this film is the powerful, and potentially disturbing notion that because of Earth's volatility and war-addicted nature, the planet is in danger of self-destructing. The production is old-fashioned, with none of the gore, in-your-face brutality, or heavy realism seen in later science fiction movies. Government and military officials are shown as impulsive and violence-prone; in several action sequences, they threaten and shoot out of fear and without cause. There are tanks, all sorts of guns and weaponry and one character is shot on two separate occasions. An alien vaporizes threatening objects and demobilizes guards. In other suspense-filled moments the leads are seen running for their lives. Set in the 1950s many characters smoke.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about how the alien Klaatu brings the thought-provoking question of world peace to the screen, and how safe our world is today. How do you think alien visitors would be treated today, in the age of films such as Independence Day?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Iconic from the get-go.

- Bill Weber, Slant Magazine, Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rotten: It is comforting, of course, to have it made plain that our planetary neighbors are much wiser and more peaceful than are we, but this makes for a tepid entertainment in what is anamolously labeled the science-fiction field.

- Bosley Crowther, New York Times, Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Fresh: Like most of Robert Wise's work, this slickly constructed 1951 science fiction film settles squarely in the middle of its genre, better than some and worse than others.

- Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader, Monday, June 4, 2007

Audience Reviews

3 stars

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a science fiction classic. It is not because of razzle dazzle effects, but because of the story and message.This 90 minute tale of aliens and peace isn't necessarily all that deep and explanatory, however it is interesting. This film doesn't believe in wasting time as it jumps right into the landing of a spacecraft. "Holy Mackerel! Call headquarters. Get the lieutenant." Those first lines say it all. Anyway, the movie immediately grabs interest, but leaves the answers to the more interesting questions to the end. This means the rest of the film is buildup for the conclusion.During the movie, the dialogue is written in a way for the viewer to learn a little about alien lifestyles, while the human characters on screen think it is just regular conversation. Pretty entertaining if you ask me.The effects are cheap looking, but it is decent for its time and the fact that this movie is black and white helps these effects look less ridiculous. Gort the robot is a little disappointing because it is easily noticeable that it is a person in a suit.A quick note on the sound effects and soundtrack. They are nicely done and play a big part in making this movie what it is.The casting is a plus. Michael Rennie, while a little bland at times, is a great Klaatu and Patricia Neal is just fantastic. There is just something about her voice that grabs my attention.The plot is fairly simple and the message is a little silly, but The Day the Earth Stood Still is an original science fiction film. "Klaatu barada nikto!"

- skactopus, Sunday, April 12, 2009

3 stars

Another unsubtle "classic." Sometimes I wonder if 1950's most vocal critics really just liked having things spelled out for them - and on that note, I wonder if films of a similar vein, such as Crash, will be viewed as "classics" fifty years from now. Perish the thought. Anyway, for all the illumination this manages not to do, it's still a well-paced and occasionally thematically interesting piece of sci-fi. The special effects have aged incredibly poorly...Gort is an absolute embarrassment. What kind of robot wrinkles at the knees when he walks? If you can get past that, though, the movie is still entirely watchable, and downright fun at times.

- ceWEBrity, Thursday, February 5, 2009

4 stars

Endlessly engrossing landmark science fiction about an alien, Klaatu, that comes to Earth with a warning. He is compelled to pose as an ordinary human and takes refuge with a sympathetic widow and her son. These quiet scenes where he interacts with her family and son are quite effective. Intelligent script's dark outlook regarding human society, heavily influenced by the Cold War of the 1950s, is still relevant. Ambiguous ending could have been more powerful, however.

- hobster1, Sunday, December 21, 2008