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“Interpreting The Day the Earth Stood Still for Contemporary Film Audiences” Review Essay

In the article “Interpreting The Day the Earth Stood Still for Contemporary Film Audiences” written in 2008, the Author, Joshua Pardon, writes about the messages that were sent to the American film audience of 1951 through the film The Day the Earth Stood Still, based on a short story by Harry Bates written in 1940. These messages ranged from topics like the societal costs of atomic technology and both a negative and positive view of militarism, to criticism of the mass media. He also writes about how, unlike TV shows, and stories by the baby boom generation portrayed the 1950’s as a time when everything was wonderful for every citizen all the time, the argument can be made that it was a “strange and weird” time full of uncertainty, fear, and paranoia; and this film portrays these feelings, with strong messages that Pardon suggest could be applied to current world events. To make you better understand his article, he added a very well written summery of the movie followed by interpretations of the film’s scenes that could be applied to what was happening in America in 1951 and events happening in 2008.

He compares the Cold War’s potential to lead to atomic catastrophe to the current war on terrorism; the public’s confusion on whether to trust scientist to the current debate of stem cell research, climate change and the scientific basis of evolution; and the media’s need to sensationalize current events take away from the real issues both in 1951 and today. I would have to say that Pardon’s article is very convincing and well written; the amount of information given by the author is very satisfactory. There is plenty of background information on what were the current events in the 1950s on every interpretation on the not so hidden messages of the movie that allow you to see the similarity of today’s issues and clearly see how the movie can be relatable today. Also, it goes into details of every important character, and even compares characters to specific iconic people from that era, such as Albert Einstein; and even the character Tom Stevens, a company man with selfish intentions as a negative portrayal of a greedy American business culture.

Such great details of interpretation make this article a very good and fulfilling read. In my opinion, the weakest part of this article is that, although the information given allows you to paint a clear picture of what the author is trying to communicate, it often added too much information of what almost felt like irrelevant information. Additionally, I felt that the author jumped from one subject to the next, just to bring it back up later in the article, and even though it wasn’t confusing and the information was always different, it made the subject feel redundant. To sum up, Pardon’s article on the interpretation of the film The Day the Earth Stood Still, was a very informative and eye opening article that clearly shows all the political messages in the film. His words were able to paint a very good picture of what was happening in 1951, when the movie was made, so that you can better understand the messages that were being sent by the film that allowed us to better see how, even though it had been over 60 decades since this article was written, the film is still relevant today.

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