The 25 Greatest Sci-Fi Films of All-Time

22. The Day the Earth Stood Still

Original Release — December 25, 1951

The films of the 50s and 60s were rife with aliens descending from the stars above to conquer and enslave us — so what would happen if an alien came to Earth to instead educate us? Klaatu (Michael Rennie) is a peaceful emissary from the stars, sent to investigate what makes our planet unique and the extent of our nuclear proliferation. As is expected of humans, the Army surrounding Klaatu’s flying saucer reacts with violence and imprison the alien.

The gifts he attempts to bring — knowledge of the cosmos, an invitation to the stars, and the chance to move beyond nuclear energy — are quickly dismissed as duplicitous threats. This parable of the dangers of nuclear weapons continues to be relevant today — the destruction of our environment certainly proves how barbaric we can be with the tools in our hands. The Day the Earth Stood Still does not leave us with a great feeling about our species’ future — Klaatu and his mechanized bodyguard Gort leave our planet with no success. But perhaps the film itself can continue to give modern audiences and future generations a reason to think twice before choosing violence and destruction.

Image Source: IMDb