Image of the day, 12/06/08, or, Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?
As dramatic as Klaatu's descent from his spaceship is in Robert Wise' 1951 The Day The Earth Stood Still is, I'm always even more struck by the alien's appearance at Mrs. Crockett's boarding house, in the dark, as the boarders, including Helen Benson and son Bobby are gathered around the television, transfixed by the news reports of a strange visitor.
One of the first of countless post-nuke sci-fi parables, Earth was set in the then-present day, the better to preach its pacifist creed. Still, it was every bit a movie about the future. Klaatu has an entirely human appearance and bearing; he also has advanced technology, a "salve" that heals a bullet wound overnight, superior reasoning ability and more. He represents Earth's, or more specifically given the film's provenance and milieu, the United States' potential. Watching the film today, one can conceivably mourn both the cozy-looking past of the American '50s and the never-to-be realized future that Klaatu represents. I somehow doubt the coming remake will stir any such feelings.
On a cheerier note, the original's been spiffed up for both standard and high-def DVD, and the Blu-ray of the film is really peachy.