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Scott Derrickson on The Day the Earth Stood Still

Published December 10, 2008 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox
The Day the Earth Stood Still PosterThe Day the Earth Stood Still
Don't worry, Scott Derrickson knows there are lots of people who didn't want anyone, let alone him, to mess with The Day the Earth Stood Still. However, if the studio is going to remake a sci-fi classic anyway, at least they got someone who knew what they were getting into.

Derrickson on Directing The Day the Earth Stood Still


"When I was given the script I was a bit skeptical," said Derrickson. "I do love the original very much. The screenplay certainly still needed work when I read it but I was struck by the idea that updating this movie had tremendous value because of the original being so rooted in the social issues of its time. It was such an intelligent and interesting self-reflective commentary, coming from an American studio and an American filmmaker, on the Cold War and the fear of the atomic bomb and the struggle to establish the UN, and things that were controversial and divisive. I loved the idea of being able to tell basically the same story but bring in these new social issues that we have now, these new interesting messes that we’ve gotten ourselves into now in the world and that alone seemed to have value to it and made sense."

Instead of the Cold War issues, this Day tackles humanity's abuse of the environment. As such, the film itself was a green production. "The only effect that it had on me personally was that it was paperless, and for a director storyboards become very complicated because they were all digital and so I never knew who had what. There was no notebook to carry around and that became confusing."



As a spectacle, this Day still wipes out a large chunk of the east coast. "I think that the ideas of this movie and certainly what I think the movie is ultimately saying, I don’t think it’s a message movie. I’m not trying to tell anybody to do anything in particular. I’m just trying to be entertaining and tell an entertaining story and represent the world where it’s at right now, but I like the idea that the solutions to the problems that we’re creating in our world right now, I love the line when she says, 'We can change. Can you stop this?' and he says, 'It would come at a price for you and your way of life.' So I wanted to find some way at the end to not just have everything wrap up perfectly and be inconsequential. There is a price."

However, the actual body count is unspecified at the end of the movie. "I decided not to try to dissect exactly what that price would be because I don’t know what it’s going to be but I know it’s the thinking that matters. It's that idea that the messes that we’ve gotten ourselves into as Americans and a species and a human race, the solutions to these will come at a price and we have to be willing to pay that price. So I liked the idea of being able put it out there for the audience to manage in their own minds what they think that price is and what the consequences of this would be ending the story there. There is an open-endedness to it. There's both closure and an open-endedness to what comes next after what just happened that I like and I appreciate that sometimes in movies, that they leave me having to decide for myself what I think that means, what I think just happened and what it means. I like that."

The Day the Earth Stood Still opens to theaters on December 12th.

For the trailers, posters, stills and more movie info, go to the The Day the Earth Stood Still Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of 20th Century Fox
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