Keanu Reeves closed a deal this weekend to play Klaatu, the alien who comes to Earth to warn its populace to change its war-like ways or face annihilation from a confederacy of alien races, in a remake of the 1951 classic The Day The Earth Stood Still, according to a story posted by Variety.
This new version will see Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) taking the director’s chair. The screenplay will be by David Scarpa (The Last Castle).
Contrary to many film fans who outright loath it when films are remade, I think that remakes have a definite place in Hollywood’s output. People often forget that it was only on the third try that they got The Maltese Falcon right. Even a classic film like 1956‘s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers can be successfully updated as it was with the 1978 version. (A fact brought home more acutely in light of the new version of the story currently in theaters, which distressingly misses the mark.)
But a modern-day interpretation of The Day The Earth Stood Still seems like a trickier proposition. The original is a fairly contemplative piece, out of step with the more kinetic films of today. If Fox is looking at this picture as a possible summer tentpole release, will they feel compelled to insert action set pieces into the film to give it a fighting chance against all the other summer blockbuster fare? If so, will that overwhelm the original’s message, which is still just as valid today as it was in the 1950s? Will this new version cleave closer to Harry Bates’ original short story “Farewell To The Master” that the 1951 film was based on and reveal that Klaatu’s hulking robot companion Gort is actually the master and Klaatu is the servant?
Time will tell.
The new version of The Day The Earth Stood Still is tentatively scheduled to begin production later this fall or early 2008.