Comparing and Contrasting the Sci-Fi Films I, Robot and The Day the Earth Stood Still

When we examine two different films made more than fifty years apart from each other, we may surprisingly be able to find a lot ideas shared between them. The Day the Earth Stood Still, directed by Robert Wise, tells of an alien in human form named Klaatu. With his robot Gort by his side, Klaatu aims to meet with scientist Jacob Barnhardt and the representatives of Earth’s governments. He must spread the message that the people of Earth must learn to live peacefully or else they will be destroyed as they are a danger to the other planets (https://bit.ly/2NT8aw5). In I, Robot, directed by Alex Proyas, Detective Del Spooner investigates the apparent suicide of U.S. Robotics founder Alfred Lanning. Set in 2035, highly intelligent robots are filling public service positions all over the world. His investigation later leads Spooner to discover a dark conspiracy that is a threat humanity (https://imdb.to/2KxU68v). While being different, the films The Day the Earth Stood Still and I, Robot also have a lot in common such as how robots, scientists, and science are portrayed.

In both films, the robots’ main purpose it to keep people safe. In I, Robot, VIKI or the Virtual Interactive Kinesthetic Interface is a supercomputer that was designed and built by the robotic company USR (https://bit.ly/2NbM6Yb). VIKI maintains the security of the building where robots are being distributed. Most importantly, she keeps the robots up to date with upgrades so they can do their job correctly. In The Day the Earth Stood Still, Gort is part of an interstellar police force. He was given powers that allow him to respond to any violent actions in order to keep the peace among humans. Though both are meant to keep humans safe, they do so in different ways. VIKI is in charge of all the robots in the world. She keeps humans safe by keeping the robots in check so they can properly protect and tend to humans needs. Gort tries to keep humans safe by keeping the peace. He tends to do this in a violent manner. Gort could go as far as destroying the Earth if he wanted to. There are no limits to what he will do. He has a beam that can vaporize anything that may get in his way, such as weapons and even people.

In both films, scientists as well as science in general are also a big part of keeping people safe. In The Day the Earth Stood Still, Klaatu meets with a scientist named Jacob Barnhardt. Klaatu introduces himself and warns him that people on other planets are aware that humans have developed atomic power. This is making them concerned for their own safety. He says if no one pays attention to this message that Earth will later be eliminated. Barnhardt then agrees to set up a meeting of scientists so Klaatu can demonstrate his power. Klaatu meets up with the woman whose house he has been staying in, Helen, and tells her everything. Meanwhile Klaatu has neutralized all electric power. Helen’s son Bobby earlier had revealed he knows Klaatu’s true identity and Helen doesn’t believe that he is actually an alien like her son says. Her husband Tom does believe it though, and begins a manhunt that ends with Klaatu being shot. Luckily he is revived by Gort for a long enough amount of time to attend the meeting with the scientists before he officially dies.

In I, Robot, Susan Calvin is a robot psychologist. She strongly believes in the three laws of robotics. With these laws in place, Calvin believes that nothing could ever go wrong. Detective Spooner, however, has a different outlook. He doesn’t fully trust in the three laws and believes science has the ability to fail. He turns out to be right when he discovers a prototype of a new model of robot that flees from him, ignores his orders, and knocks his gun out of his hand thus violating both the first and second law. Calvin comes to the realization that she can’t blindly trust science. Similarly, the people in The Day the Earth Stood Still blindly put their faith in science by believing that their weapons will keep them safe from any threat. This all changes when Klaatu arrives and Gort uses his power to vaporize all of their weapons.

Though robots, scientists, and science are shown to have a lot in common in the films The Day the Earth Stood Still and I, Robot, they also have their differences. Robots have the ability to be programmed to keep people safe just as much as they can be violent. Putting all of your trust into scientists or science in general could ultimately fail you in the end.