The Day The Earth Stood Still–Part 8

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Back in the stalled elevator Helen and Klaatu are finishing their little chat. Helen now knows there never really was a “Mr. Carpenter” in the rooming house, and that everything Bobby told her was true. All of a sudden the elevator comes back to life, and the lights come back on. Klaatu isn’t exactly sure what will happen at the meeting tonight so he finishes his little speech to Helen this way. “I’ve already told you more than I told Professor Barnhardt, because my life, in a sense, is in your hands. I thought if you knew the facts you’d appreciate the importance of my not being — apprehended, — before the meeting tonight. After the elevator reaches the ground floor Klaatu decides that the best place for him to hide is boarding house. Klaatu thinks the only other person who knows anything about him is there. Helen discloses that Tom Stephens was there in the living room when Bobby told her what he saw and heard. She walks towards a phone booth and calls his office. He’s not there, but the secretary is a bundle of raw fear. “He left before noon — before that awful electric business. I’m scared to death, Mrs. Benson. I — No, he wouldn’t tell me where he was gong. Said it was something personal”.

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Newspaper headlines now scream “WORLD-WIDE POWER JAMMED”, “PRESIDENT DECLARES EMERGENCY”, and “STEP UP HUNT FOR SPACE MAN”. It’s now early evening. People have finished working and are trying to go home. But they can’t. The military have stopped all train and air traffic from leaving the city. And road blocks and checkpoints are popping up all over Washington.  Back at Tom’s office his secretary is talking to a friend when Tom charges in. “Call the Pentagon and find out whose in charge of this space man business. Whoever it is I want to talk to him”. As the secretary dials the Pentagon Helen enters quickly. The secretary announces her, and buzzes her in. While Tom’s waiting for the call to go through he announces to Helen “Helen, he’s the man from the space ship! I had that diamond checked at three different places. Nobody on earth’s ever seen a stone like that! After what Bobby told us, that’s enough for me. Why is it nobody knows anything about him? Why hasn’t he got any money?”.

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Tom and Helen talk excitedly about the space man. And Tom is determined that he is the only person in the world capable of ridding the world of “this menace”. Helen is trying franticly to stop Tom from talking to anyone about Klaatu, the diamonds, Gort, or the spaceship. “I’d be the biggest man in the country. I could write my own ticket. Helen pleads with Tom. “The rest of the world, is involved!”. To which he replies “I don’t care about the rest of the world! You’ll feel different when you see my picture in the papers. Helen discovers that the man she thought she loved is only concerned about himself. Helen is disgusted. Tom utters his parting shot “You wait and see. You’re going to marry a big hero!”. Hearing this Helen says “I’m not going to marry anybody”. This catches Tom off guard, but it doesn’t stop him from telling all he knows to the military. As Helen takes a cab home she sees a massive build up of military might near the rooming house. When it arrives she grabs Klaatu by the hand and leads him into the cab. Jeeps with machines guns and officers wearing side arms are everywhere, at every intersection. Klaatu gets an expression of concern on his face. “I’m sure Professor Barnhardt can arrange to hide me until the meeting. Seeing more soldiers Klaatu gets more worried. “I’m worried about Gort. I’m afraid of what he might do — if anything should happen to me”. Puzzled Helen says that Gort is only a robot. Klaatu elaborates. “There’s no limit to what he could do. He could destroy the Earth. If anything should happen to me, you must go to Gort. You must give him this message: “Klaatu barada nikto.” Klaatu asks Helen to repeat the phrase. Jeeps suddenly descend on the area. Even the cab driver is getting concerned. “Hey, what’s this all about?”. With no warning the jeeps speed up, overtake them, and two proceed to cut the cab off, and bring it to a halt. Klaatu jumps out and makes a dash for the pedestrian underpass. But a burst from a machine gun cuts him down.

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Klaatu lies dying in the middle of the road. A sea of soldiers soon surrounds Klaatu. No medical aid of any kind is offered this time. Helen somehow makes her way to Klaatu’s side. He looks up with smile of a dying man. His eyes focus, and he sees Helen. “Get that message to Gort. Right away”. Klaatu dies there, his last words are concern for another people, of another planet. As more and more soldiers arrive Helen is able to slip away, and make her way to the pedestrian underpass.

At the spaceship things are far from normal. A glow surrounds Gort and his plastic prison. A slight hum is heard as the plastic falls away. Two soldiers turn and face Gort. His visor rises and a laser beam strikes the soldiers weapons causing them, and the soldiers to simply vanish. It’s now Helen arrives at the spaceship.

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But as she nears she sees the two soldiers enveloped in light and vanish. Terrified beyond description she somehow manages to keep walking forward, but as she does she becomes more and more afraid.

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Gort sees Helen as another intruder to be dealt with. The glow that is destroying the plastic is almost at his feet. Suddenly the glow is gone, as is the hum. His roving eye bores into her. She’s is fighting the urge to flee but Gort is not making the task Klaatu has given her any easier. Suddenly Gort’s roving eye zeros in on Helen, as the robot begins to move towards her.

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They are both within the enclosure. Folding chairs for Professors Barnhardt’s meeting cover the area. Helen starts to run to the rear of the enclosure. She stumbles, screams, and looks right at Gort and says “Gort–! Klaatu — barada – nikto”.

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She says the phrase again making sure to enunciate each word as well as she can. Gort pauses, then continues to plow through the chairs. He bends down and picks up Helen. If you look at the edge of the wall you’ll notice the camera shifts ever so slightly. Lock Martin had to put on another Gort costume and is seen coming out from behind a wall. It looks as if Gort is carrying Helen towards the spaceship,but if you look at her feet you’ll notice they aren’t moving. Lock was too weak to carry Patricia Neal (Helen) so a dummy held up by wires was substituted. This photo from the film shows the wires that supported the dummy.

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She’s taken side to a small room. She tries to get out, but can’t get the door to operate. Gort makes contact with someone somehow, then goes to a local police station to collect the corpse of Klaatu.

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At the police station he destroys the wall to the body of Klaatu and brings it back to the spaceship.

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Every time I watch this film I am amazed that not that not one person saw or heard anything. Gort rumbles about making enough noise to wake the dead. And his laser eye is far from silent. Yet nobody sees or hears Gort. Gort bends down and gently lifts the body of Klaatu (and in this case it’s another dummy). He brings the body of Klaatu back to the spaceship where he is revived. When Helen sees this procedure she can barely stand the sound.

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When Gort is finished reviving Klaatu we see him start to breathe. Then his eyelids flutter. Then his eyes open and he looks around. Helen isn’t sure what just happened. So she simply stammers out some words hoping they’ll make sense.”I — I thought you were” she says looking at Klaatu and then his blood stained jacket. “I was” says Klaatu. Helen points at Gort “You mean he has the power of life and death?” she asks. Klaatu is mildly amused at her bewilderment. “No — that is a power reserved to the Almighty Spirit. This technique, in certain cases, can re-stimulate life for a limited period. It’s a refinement of scientific principles known to your own people”. Helen asks him just how long he’ll live. Klaatu simply says “How long will I live?” He walks a bit to stretch his legs. “That no one can say”. He moves towards a doorway, waves his hands over some lights, and leaves to change.

Outside Professor Barnhardt and friends are gathering for the meeting. All of a sudden a jeep roars up. A soldier, a high ranking one, tells the Professor to cancel the meeting. The Professor protests saying he had permission from the Army. “I know you did. But the robots on the loose now and it isn’t safe around here. You’ll have to get your friends out of that building”.  The Professor is about to address his friends when all of a sudden a small ramp appears coming out of the side of the spaceship. Klaatu, Gort, and a woman come out the ship. The woman seats herself in an empty chair. The robot is nearest the opening, when Klaatu begins to speak. “I am leaving soon and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The Universe grows smaller every day — and the threat of aggression by any group — anywhere — can no longer be tolerated. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves — and hired policemen to enforce them.  We of the other planets have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets — and for the complete elimination of aggression. A sort of United Nations on the Planetary level… The test of any such higher authority, of course, is the police force that supports it. For our policemen, we created a race of robots”, Klaatu points to Gort, while Helen looks on with hope.

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Klaatu continues. “Their function is to patrol the planets — in space ships like this one — and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression we have given them absolute power over us. At the first sign of violence they act automatically against the aggressor. And the penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. The result is that we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war — free to pursue more profitable enterprises. We do not pretend to have achieved perfection — but we do have a system — and it works. I came here to give you the facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet — but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple. Join us and live in peace. Or pursue your present course — and face obliteration. We will be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you”.

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Klaatu and Gort disappear inside the spaceship. The engines come on, and the ship quickly ascends. The message has been delivered. Will listen to it ?. I think the jury’s still out on that one.

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