The Day the Earth Stood Still
Frustrated at being locked up, Klaatu escapes the hospital and takes a room in a local boarding house, where he befriends Helen Bensen (Patricia Neal) and her son Bobby (Billy Gray). Bobby serves as Klaatu's tour guide to the world and arranges a meeting with Professor Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe), who hatches a plan to allow Klaatu to deliver his message to the world.
Based on the short story Farewell to the Master by Henry Bates, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a remarkable film on many levelsespecially given the political environment of the 1950s with the Cold War and McCarthyism in full swing. Klaatu's message is to end nuclear proliferation or face consequences far beyond our imagination.
I love the look of black-and-white films, and with their debut on Blu-ray, I love them even more. Much like Casablanca, The Day the Earth Stood Still looks marvelous in HD, with razor-sharp detail that falters only in the occasional soft shot. The detail in the clothing and the monuments in Washington D.C. is astoundingalthough the heightened clarity reveals the wires used in the special effects. Despite its minor flaws, this is a fabulous AVC encode of a science-fiction classic.
The audio soundtracks include a remastered DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track as well as the original mono track. I found the modern remix a bit disjointed, with some new sound effects overpowering the score from Bernard Hermann and the subtle background noises found on the original mono track. The new remix definitely provides an expanded soundstage and more robust dynamics, but it sacrifices the nuances of the original recording.
The abundant bonus features include a commentary with director Robert Wise and Nicholas Meyer, a separate commentary by film and music historians John Morgan, Steven Smith, William Stromberg, and Nick Redman, and an isolated score track (DTS-HD MA). Additional supplements include numerous documentaries and featurettes (some in HD), a teaser trailer, a theatrical trailer, and a seven-minute prelude to the 2008 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still.
This 1951 classic relies on a compelling story over today's wiz-bang special effects, but that's okay by me. Michael Rennie's portrayal of Klaatu is phenomenal, and the message he delivers carries a lot of merit in today's world. Highly recommended.
Release Date: December 2, 2008
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector
Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics