Saturday, March 22, 2008

Re-Imagining of Day the Earth Stood Still Channeling The Matrix?


The Day the Earth Stood Still was a Cold War-era science fiction film of 1951 that offered timely commentary on the state of the world. A visit from a humanoid alien warns the leaders of Earth not to take their fighting into space and abandon such warfare, lest being destroyed by the rest of the peace-minded cosmos. That message is slightly less topical nowadays, so director Scott Derrickson's upcoming re-imagining of the 57-year old film will contain a different cautioning, and the messenger will be Keanu Reeves.

This won't exactly be a leap for Reeves, who most of us know played Neo, aka "The One", in the groundbreaking sci-fi series The Matrix. Neo was a messenger of a different sort, battling and educating the mechanical masses about humankind and its unwavering pursuit to be free and live. Now, Reeves will play the alien, Klaatu, who imparts an appropriate warning for today, but in the same monotone, baritone voice we've come to love. In the original film, Klaatu ends his message to Earth by saying, "The decision rests with you." Interestingly, Reeves ends the original Matrix by similarly saying, "Where we go from here is a choice I leave to you." Funny.

KlaatuReeves recently spoke to MTV and explained, "The first one was borne out of the Cold War and nuclear détente. Klaatu came and was saying cease and desist with your violence. If you can't do it yourselves we're going to do it. That was the film of that day. The version I was just working on, instead of being man against man, it's more about man against nature. My Klaatu says that if the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the earth survives. I'm a friend to the earth."

Thankfully, it sounds like this isn't just going to be about hitting us over the head about "going green" and the like. (Although Klaatu telling the world's people to recycle or die would be rather funny.) The focus will more be about "what we are doing and who we are as a species… We're trying to reach beyond the idea of [just] environmentalism."

A broader scope is a good angle, but it sounds a lot like messages we've already heard (e.g. humans are destined to destroy themselves; humans are a parasite on the planet; etc). In fact, Reeves nemesis in the original Matrix held the motivating belief that "human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet."

I certainly don't mean to say that everything Derrickson intends has already been done. But it is hard to ignore the scent of familiarity here, especially with Reeves' involvement. The original film was so timely and powerful that in 1995 it was put into the National Film Registry due to being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". 50 years later and a whole host of new problems facing the planet, can we expect something equally profound here? That's a high bar.

We'll see what writer David Scarpa has in store for us come December 12th of this year. Jennifer Connelly and Kathy Bates will join Reeves in the flick, along with Will Smith's son, Jaden Smith. No word on who will play the Gort, Klaatu's all-powerful robot companion. However, we do know that Gort will get a sever make-over, considering effects in advances and technology over the last 50 years.

What are you thoughts on the new direction that this remake is taking?


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