Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" and Modern Life

D-Day + 63 years.

I watched “The Day the Earth Stood Still” last night. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen it all the way through because I did not recognize hardly anything past the first five minutes. Among the interesting extras on the DVD was a 1951 newsreel clip. I watched it first so it set the tone before I watched the movie. I have a couple of thoughts about the film.

One, the movie is a perfect reflection of its time. The Korean War was raging, the Communists seemed to be everywhere, the Soviets had the A-Bomb, and a sense of unease permeated the country despite the happy diversions of radio and the then-emerging TV. It makes me wonder what the equivalent movie and story would be for 2007. Is there a way to illustrate our current malaise in an SF allegory or trope? That might be the new question of the summer.

Two, the nostalgic longing. I rarely get nostalgic for something I never knew. I have always enjoyed living in the time I have lived. That said, the seemingly ‘more simple time’ aspect of TDTESS was nice. Heck, I even liked the communal aspect of the boarding house in which Patricia Neal and her son lived. Granted, as a parent, the fact that she’d let her son wander the city with Klaatu (‘disguised’ as Mr. Carpenter), a man who just moved into the boarding house the previous day, a little disconcerting but that was the time. That was the time before JFK was killed, before MLK and RFK were killed, before Vietnam, before Watergate, and way before 9/11. Is it wrong to want to go back and live the more simple life, a less complicated life? There is so much to appreciate in the world of today but there is also much more complications. But it’s how we deal with both the good and bad things in life that define us.

10 comments:

Parenting, Education, Business said...

Dear Scott:

Thank you for your supportive comments of Victoria Graydale. She worked so hard to get this book into publication and it's great to hear such positive feedback. You could also tell your readers they can pick up a copy online at www.stargazerpress.com under novels or through victoriagraydale.com . As a small press, we also ask people to ask for it at their local libraries.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

I'm checking out your blog for the first time, but it's great--fascinating stuff, and I'm intrigued by the inventive process going on!

Your comments on _The Day the Earth Stood Still_ reminds me of a recent experience of mine. I've been listening to some "Old Time Radio" recently--mostly shows from the 30s-50s. Christian and I listened to a whole Flash Gordon series from the late 30s, and then heard an episode of a separate Flash Gordon series from the Cold War era...interesting changes. Dr. Zarkov, the protagonist's friend, loses his Russian accent, for one! And there's a palpable anti-commie feel to it, especially when you compare it with what was going in the predecessor series a few decades before.

Also noted (in another of your posts) that you've got a great summer reading list. Man, I'd love to read that much...can't seem to find that kind of time. Been reading Howard Zinn's _A People's History of the US_, which is a US history from the perspective of oppressed peoples (Indians, blacks, women, workers, the poor).

I read Michael Chabon's _Kavalier and Clay_ this past winter--fantastic book! I agree with you: that guy's style is what amazes. Have you read his Sherlock Holmes book?

OK--talk with you later.

Take care,

Michael Brough

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