“The Day the Earth Stood Still” is about an alien threat against humanity. Specifically, the aliens arrive to destroy all mankind for our sins.
There are many potential philosophical and religious themes that could be explored in such a story premise, but most are left unexplored in this movie. Even so, the story wasn’t bad, there were some interesting special effects, and I liked Keanu Reeves; nonetheless, the film’s largest fault was its moral. The moral of the story was that when we are in our darkest hour and on the brink of destruction, we could change. Humanity can change.
Unfortunately, the film did not show humanity changing, that part was left to the viewers’ imagination. I imagined that after the movie was over, the people of earth did make many outward changes; after all, the threat of extermination can be a powerful motivator. But the problem with change based only on threats is that it is not a genuine change of heart. Take away the threat, and the behavior reverts because the heart is unchanged. A true change of heart would be for its own sake, and would not be motivated by threats or promises.
Many earthly civilizations have come and gone. Many have stood at the brink of disaster and plunged headlong into destruction. In the end, our civilization will be no different. We can and should delay the end through good behavior, but there is only one Kingdom that will last forever.
The reason this final Kingdom will stand forever is because it is being founded; not upon the latest and greatest law, economic principle, or technology; but rather upon the Word of God. The word of God causes a true change of heart.
In the movie, the Reeves’ character became human, and out of fear we tried to kill and control him. He even took some of the death and destruction into himself in order to save some humans. But in the end, he had no real redemption to offer because he had nothing that could really change the human heart.
Because of our sinful nature, threats and promises leave us in bondage to greed and fear. Threats and promises do not change our selfish desires or our fear of punishment. But in becoming fully human, Christ has taken our sin into himself and destroyed it on the cross. In faith, we are now free to do what is right out of love. Only Christ gives us this freedom. Only in Christ do we truly change, not because we have to, but because we want to. That alone is true change.
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” is a movie that one can skip, but no one will skip the day of Christ’s return. That is the day the earth will literally stand still.