One of my favorite science fiction films is the 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still starring Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, and Billy Gray who went on to star as Bud in Father Knows Best. The film is based on Harry Bates’s 1940 short story “Farewell to the Master.” The film version differs considerably from the short story.
The setting is the Cold War era. There is a Cold War reference by Frances Bavier’s character, best known for her role of Aunt Bee on The Andy Griffith Show. She intimates that the flying saucer that landed in Washington, DC, is from the Soviet Union.
“The film’s storyline involves a humanoid alien visitor named Klaatu that comes to Earth, accompanied by a powerful eight-foot tall robot, Gort, to deliver an important message that will affect the entire human race.”
Klaatu is portrayed as a messianic figure. Those in high places in our government view him as a threat or a competitor. After escaping from the hospital after being shot by a trigger-happy soldier, the alien adopts the identity of Mr. Carpenter—as in Jesus was a carpenter—to blend in with the earthlings and make contact with world leaders to warn them of a coming alien takeover if they don’t straighten up and stop using atomic weapons.
After connecting with the Einstein-like character Professor Barnhart, Klaatu and the professor agree that some sign of power and control will be necessary to get the attention of the governments of the world. Klaatu shuts down most of the world. In effect, he makes the earth stand still for a time.
This gets the attention of the world leaders. Once assembled, Klaatu explains his mission and issues the following warning:
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. There must be security for all—or no one is secure… This does not mean giving up any freedom except the freedom to act irresponsibly.
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—(indicating Gort). 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.
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.
The political leaders in attendance were probably saying to themselves, “Man, why didn’t we think of that? We could create an army of drones and robots to police the planet. The only difference from what this alien’s planet decided to do is that we could control the drones and robots ourselves to keep the people in line. It’s pure genius!”
Today, political leaders (usurpers of power) don’t need drones or robots. They only need fear to control the population, and it seems that hundreds of millions of people are willing to comply.
What we are seeing today are a lot of Gorts—governors, mayors, bureaucrats, and civil officials using the Coronavirus to exercise near complete control of the people through fear and claiming to know what’s best for us for our own security.
“Klaatu, barada nikto!”