Review Questions for The Day the Earth Stood Still

In a short review essay (2-3 double-spaced pages) answer one of the questions listed below. Essay due: beginning of class, March 1.

  1. When Klaatu asks Mr. Harley to have the President set up a meeting with all the nations on Earth so that he can deliver his warning, Harley responds that this sort of thing is "completely without precedent" and that that "they wouldn't sit down at the same table." Klaatu's response is to express his impatience with stupidity. In several places the film depicts our response to the arrival of Klaatu and Gort as less than reasonable. Discuss several examples of this, linking your discussion to what you have learned so far about postwar American attitudes.

  2. When Klaatu asks Bobby Benson "Who's the greatest man on earth?", Bobby's answer is Professor Barnhart. So, having given up on dealing directly with political leaders, Klaatu decides to go to the scientific community by way of Barnhart. Yet Barnhart warns Klaatu that "we scientists are too often ignored or misunderstood." Who or what does Barnhart represent to a 1950s audience? Why would Klaatu (or Bobby) place so much faith in the earth's scientists? And why is Barnhart skeptical of his ability to influence the world's political leaders? Discuss these questions in light of what you have learned so far about postwar American attitudes.