TV Week (Aus), December 27, 2008 - Jan 2, 2009

Alien Ressurection

(Typed by HyperCaz)


In 1951, sci-fi classic The Day The Earth Stood Still told the story of Klaatu, an alien visitor who arrives on Earth with a warning for mankind. Now, Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly co-star in a remake of the film, with an updated message that addresses our fears about global warming. Keanu tells us about the Boxing Day blockbuster.

Were you already familiar with the original movie?

I saw the film when I was a kid and loved it. It’s interesting reflecting on it – watching it as a young person, then seeing it again as an adult and realising how subversive it was. It talks about the media and the idea of manufactured fear. Obviously, as a child, I didn’t understand the political context of the film, but it was talking about the atomic age and the Cold War. It was a topical film, so it was fascinating watching the movie again with new eyes.

The original was very much a film of its time, wasn’t it?

Yes, and the message at the end of the film was interesting. It was almost as though the aliens had a bigger stick. They were effectively saying, “We will end your violence with greater violence.” It was contradictory. The aliens were saying, “Don’t fight anymore, or we’ll kill you.”

How do you portray Klaatu? He’s such an iconic character.

He was pretty idealised in the original film. He had Christian, spiritual overtones, and he was more human than the humans. My take on Klaatu is a little different. Klaatu discovers his humanity during the film and that is a journey for him. I played him as a man who has an alien inside him but is embodied by human flesh – and that changes him quite a lot, I think. I picture the human body as a kind of container for him.

So how exactly do you portray this man as an alien in a human body?

My idea for him is that he does not have a body. He is energy and energy moves within vessels. I was just trying to portray what it would be like to have this unusual consciousness, then have to deal with how it is embodied.

Klaatu is essentially a good being, a self-described “friend to the earth”, isn’t he?

He’s a little more sinister. I’m a friend to the earth, but not as warm and fuzzy as [original Klaatu] Michael Rennie – though he gave a great performance.

Where do you stand on the whole subject of life on other planets?

I believe in other forms of life. How can it be possible that we’re the only living, sentient beings in the universe? I don’t know if we will find any extraterrestrial beings in our lifetimes but, in my view, it’s inconceivable that we’re the only ones.

Did you have any reservations about remaking the original?

I’m not a fan of remakes in general, but I met with director Scott Derrickson and also talked to the writer and kept asking, “Why do a remake?” We came around to the answer and I said yes. The film is talking about an interesting theme – the feeling of being on a precipice; how we’re on the brink and how things need to change. So the question is: will we, in fact, change? The way we’re living has almost catastrophic consequences, and I guess this film holds a mirror up to that because there’s a lot of concern about the planet right now.

So the new version of The Day The Earth Stood Still is in fact as timely as the original.

I think it’s topical, just as the older film was very topical, working within that context of the Cold War. It was a cautionary tale. One of the last lines in our film is from Jennifer Connelly, who says, “This is our moment.” That could mean this is our moment to begin, or this is our moment to being the end. I was hoping that the film could really provoke interesting conversations for the audience, as well as entertain them.

You’re clearly very busy with your film career. What about music – do you still play?

I don’t play with my band [Dogstar] anymore; we broke up. Why? Nine years together…you’re sitting in a room, you hate each other, you can’t make music. So that’s the way it goes, I guess! No, we don’t really hate each other…it’s a long story!

The Day The Earth Stood Still is out on December 26.


Picture Captions:
'Is Klaatu really a "friend to the earth" or a sinister invader?'
'The original movie developed a cult following'
'Cutting edge special effects bring the story into the 21st century'


Article Focus:

Day the Earth Stood Still, The


Day the Earth Stood Still, The , Dogstar

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