Film review – The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

27 December 2008

The original 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still is one of the all time great classical Hollywood films. It was the first significant Hollywood science fiction film and one of the first films to ideologically engage with the political climate at the time by tackling anti-Communist/Cold War paranoia. Despite its big budget it was a narrative driven film with more emphasis placed on dramatic action rather than spectacle and effects. The eclectic and reliable director Robert Wise, who began his career in film as the editor for Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941), directed the film and the legendary film composer Bernard Herrmann wrote the music. Herrmann’s use of the theremin for the music in The Day the Earth Stood Still was hugely influential, making the theremin the standard sound for all science fiction soundtracks throughout the 1950s. The idea of remaking such a definitive and important film seems at first glance to be incredibly foolhardy, however this new 2008 film should not be automatically dismissed. It is by no means as good as the original but by taking the central premise of the original and maintaining its core ideology in order to address contemporary issues, this remake becomes a film that is worth considering.

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Notes on film: Double Indemnity

9 October 2008

“I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman.”

Not only is Double Indemnity one of the archetypal films known as film noir but it is regarded by many as the first true film noir. It is also one of the best. The characters, scenario and stylistic elements of Double Indemnity all perfectly represent this group of Hollywood films from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. The dark tone of Double Indemnity, both visually and thematically, the anti-hero who is led astray by greed and lust, and the seductive yet deadly femme fatale are all essential film noir ingredients.

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