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Making the Earth Stand Still (1995)

| Documentary | Video
A documentary about the 1951 sci-fi film "The Day the Earth Stood Still," featuring clips from the film and interviews with some of the cast and crew about the making of the film.


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Credited cast:
Julian Blaustein ...
Billy Gray ...
Steven Smith ...
Himself (as Steven C. Smith)
Marc Zubatkin ...


A documentary about the 1951 sci-fi film "The Day the Earth Stood Still," featuring clips from the film and interviews with some of the cast and crew about the making of the film.

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Not very enlightening…
13 January 2005 | by (Luoyang, China) – See all my reviews

Making the Earth Stand Still is a clever title for a documentary about this movie, and I can see why they would want to give this documentary that name despite the fact that it is not at all about making the Earth Stand Still. A more accurate title would have been Making "The Day the Earth Stood Still," or, even more accurately, Remembering The Day the Earth Stood Still. If you are looking to see what kinds of techniques went into creating the effects seen in the 1951 science fiction classic, as I was, I would advise against spending two solid hours watching this documentary, because probably less than five minutes of screen time are spent on the subject. Even more oddly, the back of the DVD case lists as a special feature a "70-Minute 'Making the Earth Stand Still' Documentary," which is off the mark by a good 50 minutes. I've never seen that happen before.

The odd thing here is that I loved the movie and I respect this documentary for what it is, but it's really nothing more than the director and major surviving cast and crew talking about their experiences in making the movie, as well as great details about the events leading to production, where the title came from, reactions to the public reception, etc. These are all interesting things and I respect the massive achievements that can be seen in the film, but I really wanted to see how they made the earth stand still, what cinematic tricks were used, etc. I guess I just think that The Day the Earth Stood Still deserves a better documentary to accompany it on the Studio Classics DVD, which brings me to my next point.

My biggest problem with this documentary is that it is unbelievably badly made, and at some points even depressing. Billy Gray, the man who played the young boy in the movie, provides an interview in which he talks about his experience on The Day the Earth Stood Still almost as if nothing important happened in his life since then, which may or may not be true, but his interview is pretty depressing. It seemed to me that he remembered making the movie with a profound sadness, manifested in his wish that he still had some of the diamonds used in the movie.

Julian Blaustein, who seems to be suffering from the physical effects of a stroke or an aneurysm (since I've seen similar features in my grandmother, who suffered a stroke not long ago), is lit so incompetently that not only does he appears completely washed out because of the harsh light, but his eyes even look like they're two different colors. Such bungling ineptitude associated with such a wonderful film is disturbing indeed. What lunatic did that lighting setup? And what lunatic shot it? That massive overexposure with the lights could have been easily fixed by adjusting the exposure on the camera. Even the editor could have cleaned it up quite a bit. This movie and the people involved with it certainly deserve better.

On an informational level the documentary is great, but as I've mentioned, it is a technical disaster; it doesn't even end, it just eventually stops abruptly. There are a great variety of things covered that were highly entertaining, but for a documentary titled Making the Earth Stand Still, some time had to be spent on the actual physical making of the movie, which was almost completely ignored. I don't think I would complain about it quite this much if not for the title and, even worse, the fact that at the end of the documentary we are treated to 20 minutes of people talking about their collections of The Day the Earth Stood Still memorabilia.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with memorabilia. I was completely fascinated with the coverage of what happened to the prop used as the time machine in the 1962 version of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, which featured a similar documentary on the DVD, but that documentary didn't waste as much time as this one does. It doesn't present the information that the title suggests, and it spends too much time on something that deserves much less, if any. "The Collectors" portion of this documentary should have been a separate video on the DVD, in which case it could have been as long as they wanted to make it.

I appreciate the documentary as far as giving a good look inside the heads of the filmmakers and much of the cast, as well as valuable insights into what was going on in the world at the time the movie was released. There are some wonderful stories about the prop used as the spaceship as well as the iron man, which was a statue in some scenes and a hulking costume worn by a man more than 7 ½ feet tall in other scenes, and there are some wonderful stories about that. It is a good series of stories told about the making of the movie, but it is not at all a documentary on how the earth was made to stand still.

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