The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) (part 9 of 11)

Next follows a brief scene showing the 30-foot robot being lowered into a deep underground silo. Okay, that’s enough of that, now let’s look at a house somewhere!

Helen, Klaatu, and Jacob enter a nice but cluttered home, calling out to “Karl” that they’re there. In the background, classical music plays. While Jacob, who for the moment isn’t particularly stressed about hanging out with a potentially hostile alien, takes his coat off and gets settled in a side room, Klaatu wanders around and notices a plaque inscribed with their host’s name, Karl Thomas Barnhardt, and an inscription in Latin, Inventas Vitam Juvat Excoluisse Per Artes (“inventions enhance life which is beautified through art”). This is the quote from the Aeneid that’s inscribed on Nobel Prizes, though why they’re showing us just the little plaque with the Latin and not the more recognizable prize medallion itself is not clear to me. Hey, maybe those video game guys stole it! Oh, they pan up to show the medallion too, never mind. Is it just me, or do those things look like a giant penny?

Helen explains that Karl won the Nobel “for his work in biological altruism.” This sounds like something goofy they made up to make Karl sound noble, but in fact it’s a real field of philosophic study that investigates why, in times of limited resources, individual organisms throughout the animal kingdom occasionally produce fewer offspring (which, in Darwinian terms, is self-abnegation) for the good of the community. Which is great, but since it’s not explained, most of the audience is left to think that it’s something goofy the filmmakers made up.

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Mark "Scooter" Wilson

Mark is a history guy, a graphics guy, a guy for whom wryly cynical assessments of popular culture are the scallion cream cheese on the toasted everything bagel of life. He spends his time teaching modern history at Brooklyn College, pondering the ancient Romans at the CUNY Graduate Center, and conjuring maps and illustrations for ungrateful bankers at various Manhattan monoliths. Readers are welcome to guess at reasons why he's nicknamed Scooter, with the proviso that all such submissions are guaranteed to be rather more interesting than the truth. Mark lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with a happy-go-lucky, flop-eared dog named Chiyo who is probably, at this very moment, waiting patiently for her walkies.

Multi-Part Article: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

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