The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) was a brilliant science-fiction film that set the standards, in many ways, for other following films. One of the great strengths of the genre of science-fiction as well as horror and fantasy is its ability to comment on direct issues in contemporary society. In this 20th Century Fox film, the director, Robert Wise uses the arrival of an alien spaceship on earth as a cautionary message about the potential of the human race to cause its own self-destruction through atomic warfare.
The core plot element is that beings from advanced civilizations on other planets have found people on earth have developed both nuclear weapons and a space program. They have sent an emissary, Klaatu, played by Michael Rennie, to deliver a gift and a warning to the people of Earth. The gift, a small box, was destroyed by a frightened soldier who thought it was a threat. In reality, it was a device that would have allowed humans to study the universe. With the gift gone, what is left is a warning that if human beings insist on bringing their atomic weapons and violence into space with them, then earth and its inhabitants will be destroyed utterly. This message is a quietly subversive challenge through what was seen as just a movie to the nuclear states of the world.
A staple of science-fiction, both cinema and television is the robot. This kind of machine will figure into film in many ways from the earliest days to recent film. The Day The Earth Stood Still has such a machine in Gort, a robot that serves as an aide to the alien Klaatu. Earth people view it as a threat, as they do everything alien, which is yet another point to the movie. Xenophobia and bigotry, unfortunate human capacities, were at the forefront of American society in the late 1940s and 1950s. If someone was different from the so-called norm, then they were somehow bad and immoral. This will be the main point of the next movie I will examine in this series: Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
The Day The Earth Stood Still was a critical success and has been named by several film organizations as one of the most important films of American cinema. If you have not yet seen this movie, and I am NOT talking about the remake, then I recommend it highly.
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”
“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”
“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.”
Dalai Lama XIV
“And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.”
“General Prologue,” The Canterbury Tales
“Teaching is not a job; it is a calling, a profession to which one’s life is dedicated.”
Charles F. French
Some books speak to a specific time, and some reach across eras with their messages. Some include a message for a definite audience, while others span a more general readership. And some times call out for certain books to be read.
Books are one form of the Media, which must remain free if freedom itself is to survive. Given the turmoil of our present time, I am suggesting these books as crucial reading for today’s world:
It Can’t Happen Here
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”
“Life must be lived and curiosity kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
“Life without curiosity is mere existence. Adults should remember the curiosity they had as children and rekindle that desire to question and to learn–always.”
Charles F. French
Today I will offer a few quotations from writers from earlier eras about creativity, learning, and teaching.
(illustration from Cassell’s History Of England – Century Edition – published circa 1902)
“And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche”
“And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.”
These are the Middle English and the Modern English versions of this quotation from “The General Prologue” of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. This idea is of enormous importance to me, because I am both a teacher and a life-long student. All people should try to continue to learn throughout their lives and to teach someone else the wisdom they have amassed.
(Portrait of William Shakespeare, attributed to John Taylor
“Suit the action to the word,
the word to the action, with this special observance,
that you o’erstep not the modesty of of nature. For
anything so over-done is from the purpose of playing,
whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to
hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue
her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age
and body of the time his form and pressure.”
William Shakespeare (Hamlet Act 3. Scene2. lines 16-23)
Shakespeare speaks to the importance of representing life and humanity as it is and to examine the world in its complexities; it can also be an injunction for all creative efforts. I do not mean we should eliminate abstraction, metaphor, or altered forms, but that, at our core, we are creating art about humanity and our world.
Keep learning and keep sharing what you know.
“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
“There should be no discrimination against languages people speak, skin color, or religion.”
“Bigotry of all kinds is intolerable, unjustifiable, and immoral. We, as human beings, must always be willing to stand up against any kind of bigotry.”
Charles F. French
Here is a post to celebrate and promote the work of Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis!
Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku
Authors: Cendrine Marrouat & David Ellis
Genre: Multimedia – Poetry with some photography (non-fiction)
Release date: September 3, 2020
‘Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku’ showcases two unique, brand-new poetry forms created by Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis, the co-founders of Auroras & Blossoms, a platform celebrating positivity and inspiration in art.
By taking elements of found poetry and Japanese poetry forms, Cendrine and David have developed a style of poetry known as the Kindku. The collection also features a selection of gorgeous images and poems from Cendrine’s own visual poetry form — the Sixku.
Enjoy a divine series of poems inspired by a variety of well-known poets including Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, John Keats, Emma Lazarus, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, William Butler Yeats, Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Maya Angelou, Sara Teasdale, Pablo Neruda and many others.
Learn how to write your very own Kindku and Sixku by reading this book and when you are done, consider submitting them to Auroras & Blossoms for publication.”
Relevant links: https://www.cendrinemedia.com/Rhythm-flourishing (Amazon, B&N, etc.) – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54741107-rhythm-flourishing.
Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography
Authors: Cendrine Marrouat, David Ellis & Hadiya Ali
Genre: Multimedia – Photography with some poetry (non-fiction)
Release date: March 16, 2021
‘Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography’ is a unique collection of artistic styles that bring together different innovative concepts of both gripping writing and stunning visual imagery.
In the first part of the book, photographer and painter Ali introduces us to two of her favorite photographers by reimagining and recreating images in the nature of her photographic idols — Irving Penn and Karl Blossfeldt.
In the second part, photographer, poet, and author Marrouat shares a selection of her reminigrams, a digital style that she personally created to honor and pay homage to the early days of photography.
Author and poet Ellis rounds things off with a series of pareiku poems (the poetry form he co-created with Marrouat), offering fresh outlooks for his sincere, heartfelt adoration of photography of the past.
A fascinating and compelling book, ‘Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography’ will leave you with a deep sense of appreciation and a greater understanding of photography.
PoArtMo Collective is a gathering of inspirational artists, writers and photographers that combine their talents to produce positive, mixed media projects that stimulate the minds of the people who delve into them.”
Relevant link: https://abpoetryjournal.com/seizing-bygone-light/ (Amazon, B&N, etc.) – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57127979-seizing-the-bygone-light.
A follow-up interview with Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis will appear on this blog in the not too distant future!
Must Read for Writers!
“As a writer, I have always found writing the first draft of my novel to be a daunting process. I had the novel idea, had some idea of how I wanted it to start, and how I wanted it to end. But after reading this book, I now feel I have the tools and confidence I need to get my first draft done without any obstacles!
I definitely consider this book a must-read for any writer who is struggling with their first draft! And if you’re looking for a good recipe for an omelette, this book has that as well.”
Do you write? Then you have to do drafts and need this book
“Ah, the draft!! Any writer knows good work takes many drafts and edits. This book will help you get it done and done correctly.”
The book is a treasure.
“For five long years, I could not finish the first draft. After reading this book, I finished in three weeks. Great read!”