Interestingly, Klaatu explains to humans that he has traveled to Earth by an advanced form of atomic power, and this story element reveals that in 1951 even among extreme peaceniks there was a firm belief that nuclear energy had uncomplicated potential for peaceful applications. There was no consideration of the dangers of radioactive fallout, and little thought given to the hazards of uranium mining and nuclear waste disposal, nor to the risks of reactor meltdowns. To the extent that there were any concerns about these, the hazards were deemed to be manageable. This started to change only in the late 1950s.
|The Day the Earth Stood Still|
Klaatu and Helen, Gort in the background
The Day the Earth Stood Still seemed on the surface to be one of the many typical, low-grade science fiction films cranked out by Hollywood, but critics, historians and the public quickly noted there was more to it. It became a classic, recognized for the brilliant way it managed be very human and realistic, and for the way it managed to criticize both sides in the Cold War at the height of the anti-communist witch hunts that had silenced the American entertainment industry and intelligentsia. Though the film focuses on an alien threat, this device was a veil over the real threat that the audience could understand implicitly. Now that both the Soviets and Americans had large arsenals of nuclear weapons, everyone knew that total destruction could be achieved without the help of aliens.