Today, we're looking into the domain of science-fiction, but with a fascinating fact angle tied to it. I’m talking about one of the most famous sci-fi movies of all time. Namely, 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still. Not only did it amaze and entertain audiences around the world, but, also, it brought to sci-fi fans a new fascination for all things of a robotic nature. In the wake of the movie many tried to follow in the footprints of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Most failed. As for the theme of the story, it was unlike most of what had come before. This was a movie designed to have its audience think, to show how we, the Human Race, were, the most dangerous creatures on planet Earth. And, to draw parallels between the worlds of on-screen fantasy and the growing threat of the Cold War. There’s also a fascinating allegory to the movie, too. With that said, let’s take a look at the story.
Made by 20th Century Fox, the movie starred Michael Rennie (who, before The Day the Earth Stood Still, appeared in 1945’s Caesar and Cleopatra and later, in 1960, The Lost World) as a very human-looking alien with the name of Klaatu. Interestingly, there was barely a solid love aspect to the movie, an approach hardly ever seen in most of the sci-fi of the movies of the early 1950s. That’s not to say there wasn’t a leading co-leading lady. There was: Helen Benson, played by Patricia Neal. Her character was not one driven by screams and fainting in every other shot, as in so many productions of its era. Then, there was actor Sam Jaffe, an Albert Einstein-type character who comes to realize that the Human Race is not the most important planet in the Universe, nor is it the most scientifically advanced, either. As for Helen’s son Bobby Benson (played by Billy Gray), he, too, has an integral role in the movie. Finally, there was Lock Martin, the man who played Gort. For those who may not know, Gort was, arguably the star of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Even though he/it was a robot. And a giant-sized one, too. We have to take note of the fact that it was in 1947 when the “Flying Saucer” rage began. Four years later, Flying Saucers were still big pulls in the theaters. Hollywood knew that. Astutely, too. However, the crew – Robert Wise, the director; the producer, Julian Blaustein, and Edmund H. North, who handled the screenplay, based on Harry Bates’ story, Farewell to the Master – wanted something a bit different. Hollywood did exactly that.
As the movie begins, we see a definitive, large Flying Saucer soaring across the skies of the world, eventually coming to land in Washington, D.C. People everywhere are amazed and frightened; particularly so when a “doorway” in the craft opens and a humanoid figure appears. Things go deadly quiet. Naturally, the military moves in and it all gets a bit antsy, to say the very least: suddenly, one of the contingent of soldiers in the area fires his gun, injuring what turns out to be an alien looking just like us. Indeed, there is no green skin, bulging eyes, or claws. And so on. If it wasn’t for the spacesuit-type the being wears, he would be able to move among us with ease. Later in the movie, he does exactly that. We learn that the name of the alien is Klaatu. His robot sidekick, Gort, is an ominous, towering robot that may look like a clunking, slow creation, but that is actually a creation with incredible destructive power. As the story expands, it becomes clear that Gort has the ability to wipe out not just the Human Race, but also our planet, too. Klaatu says:
“For our policemen, we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked. At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. The result is, 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. Now we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works.” As for Klaatu’s home planet, we’re never told the actual world from which the man from the stars comes. After being injured as a result of the gun-happy soldier, Klaatu is taken to Walter Reed Army Hospital. When it becomes clear to Klaatu that U.S. authorities will not let him leave, he escapes, making his way to a boarding house, using the name of “Mr. Carpenter.”
It doesn’t take long before Bobby, his mother, and Helen’s semi-“boyfriend” Tom Stevens - played by Hugh Marlowe - we learn who Mr. Carpenter really is. Klaatu warns the world of the incredible power that practically-invincible Gort can unleash on the Earth, but not before he is killed and resurrected. We’re talking about the end of life on the Earth. As Klaatu says: “Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer.” Klaatu and mighty Gort take to the skies, while the people of Earth – and particularly so our world leaders – ponder on the future. If, that is, we are allowed to have a future. There’s another angle to all of this, too. Namely, the religious one. Bright Lights Film Journal say of this: “The Day the Earth Stood Still’s (1951) Christian analogy comes into play. We have free will and can decide to ignore the superior beings’ instruction. However, to ignore it means we are condemned to a hellish end.” Still on the matter of religious analogies, Bright Lights Film Journal say, this, too: “The name ‘Carpenter” refers to the Son of God’s earthly vocation… He emerges – resurrected – from the ship and delivers a harsh message before his ascension to the heavens… Klaatu/Carpenter’s gathering of scientists recalls the young Jesus talking to the rabbis in the temple.”
Not only a great movie to ponder on deeply, but also one that brought a whole new type of robots to the world’s pop-culture and for a new decade. It should be noted that much of the theme of The Day the Earth Stood Still inspired a group of predominantly American figures who became known in the UFO research arena as “Contactees.” They claimed face-to-face contact with Klaatu-like aliens and who warned of nuclear war and irreversible ecological danger. And they looked very much like Klaatu, too: enigmatic and wise and, on top of that, somewhat bullying in tone and action. One only has to read the following to see how The Day the Earth Stood Still drove the Flying saucer community. Read on: the Contactees were people who, chiefly, in the 1950s, claimed encounters with very human-looking aliens. Those same aliens demanded that we should lay down our atomic weapons. They were those controversial characters who claimed close encounters with very human-looking aliens, and who became known as the “Space Brothers.”
One of the Contactees, whose story fits right into this subject of mind-alteration, was Orfeo Angelucci. In correspondence with Jim Moseley of Saucer Smear, Angelucci said he had been visited in 1954 by people from both the FBI and U.S. Army Intelligence. That was not at all surprising, as most of the Contactees had files opened on them – largely because of their politics, rather than their alien claims. One of the stories that Angelucci shared with Moseley was particularly strange. On one particular night in December 1954, and after finishing working out in Twentynine Palms, California, Angelucci headed out to a local diner. That’s where things got strange. Angelucci recorded: “I felt a strangeness in the air. There is a cosmic spell over the desert most of the time, but tonight the mystery was less distant and intangible; it was close and pulsating.”
Angelucci was soon deep in conversation – in that same diner – with a man who identified himself only as “Adam,” a customer who claimed to be thirty-something and suffering from a terminal illness. Death was said to be just around the corner for the man. In an odd and synchronistic fashion, Adam claimed that he had read Angelucci’s book, The Secret of the Saucers, that he considered their meeting to be beyond just an amazing coincidence, and that he wished to share his thoughts with Angelucci before time ran out. As in quite literally. But, said Adam, before their conversation could begin, Angelucci had to swallow a pill. Of what kind Angelucci didn’t know. That didn’t stop him from doing exactly what Adam demanded from him, though. Angelucci took a gulp of water and the “oyster-white pellet” went down. For Angelucci, there was now no turning back. It didn’t take long before he felt weird, odd, and out of this world. Spaced out. In short, Angelucci had been drugged. It was almost like one of the most famous scenes in the 1999 movie, The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves. You know the scene: the red pill versus the blue pill. But this was the world of the real. Not of Hollywood.
Angelucci said: “I took the pellet and dropped it into my glass. Immediately the water bubbled, turning slowly into the clear, pale amber contained in [Adam’s] own glass. I lifted the glass a few inches from the table, looking into it with a feeling that this might be the drink I dared not hope for. The exhilarating aroma rising from it could not be mistaken…I thrilled from head to foot as I took the glass, lifted it to my lips, and swallowed twice from it. At that instant, I entered, with Adam, into a more exalted state and everything around me took on a different semblance. No longer was I in Tiny’s café in Twentynine Palms. It had been transformed into a cozy retreat on some radiant star system. Though everything remained in its same position, added beauty and meaning were given to the things and people present there. Almost as an aside, Angeluci said: “Among the patrons dining that evening were two marines from the nearby base. Sometimes they glanced our way as they talked and drank beer following their meal .” Angelucci said that Adam seemed oddly obsessed with the glass and was “fraught with expectancy.” Suddenly, the sounds of music filled Angelucci’s ears. Incredibly, the music seemed to be coming from the glass itself. Or, rather, that’s how it seemed to Angelucci. The reality is that he was now completely and utterly stoned.
Angelucci stared at the glass and saw the figure of “a miniature young woman” who was dancing in that same glass! That’s right: the drugs were now kicking in to a high degree. Of the small woman, Angelucci said that: “Her golden-blond beauty was as arresting as the miracle of her projection in the glass. Her arms moved in rhythmic motion with the graceful thrusts of her dancing body.” What began as a pleasant meeting between like-minded souls soon became a drug-driven interrogation. By Angelucci’s own admission, he spilled the entire beans to Adam: the nature of his encounters, and the words of his alien friends. There was even a debate on politics, which is rather telling. Angelucci staggered home, his mind hardly his own for the next few hours. It’s important to note that there is much more to all of this, much of it downright sinister. Read on.
Why were the Space Brothers so concerned that we would destroy ourselves in the 1950s? At first glance, at least, the answer is very simple: they liked us and they wanted us to stay alive! Maybe, however, there is more to it than that. In fact, much more than that. And, perhaps, there are disturbing reasons for that apparent concern for our welfare – and even our existence. Before we get right into the heart of it all, however, let us first take a look at the Space Brothers, for those who may not be acquainted with the strange subject. Although it was the summer of 1947 when the term “Flying Saucer” was coined, sightings of – or encounters with – alleged aliens didn’t really begin on a large scale until the early 1950s. That’s when the aforementioned Space Brothers surfaced from wherever they came. And it’s also the period in which the matter of nukes began to surface, too.
The Space Brothers were described as looking eerily human-like – the major difference being that the males had very long hair, which, of course, was a rarity during the dawning of the 1950s. The women looked like women on Earth. Both the males and the females occasionally had some very slight differences in their facial appearances, but nothing that really stood out as odd or unusual. The aliens chose certain figures to spread the word that the human race should get rid of its nuclear weapons. And if we didn’t follow the path of the creatures from other worlds, then we would surely all be fried in a radioactive holocaust of our very own making. Those who the Space Brothers and the Space Sisters chose to work with became known as the Contactees. The very long list included George Van Tassel, Dana Howard, Truman Bethurum, Mollie Thompson, Orfeo Angelucci, George King and Margit Mustapa. And they were just the tip of the iceberg.
The beings from faraway planets would often meet the Contactees late at night, and very often in out-of-the-way places, such as deserts, woods, mountains, and even below old bridges – late at night and in the early hours of the morning. As the 1950s progressed, and our nuclear arsenals grew, so the aliens’ concerns for the human race grew, too. But, was that apparent concern really due to the benevolent, friendly nature of the Space Brothers? Maybe not. What if the Space Brothers were not from another solar-system, after all? What if they were from right here on planet Earth? But, from our future? After all, why would a space-faring race, from a faraway solar-system even care about us, a civilization potentially endless light-years away? The answer is quite simple: they wouldn’t care. If, though, the Space Brothers were actually time travelers trying to manipulate the present to alter the future – and to ensure that a Third World War didn’t erupt and destroy civilization – then matters become not just clearer, but much more understandable.
Déjà vu-driven time glitches, a blockbuster movie – the creators of which might have hit on the true reality of our world - a story that takes place near to 2199, but that is believed to be 1999, and a real example of the famous “blue pill” or “red pill” scene in The Matrix, suggest that science-fiction may be closer to science-fact.