Earthlings, I can only ask that you feel a great sense of joy for me. For, only the other night, I had the chance to finally see the Keanu Reeves version of The Day The Earth Stood Still.
None of those were present as the thing struggled to hold my attention and made me feel like I was watching a sci-fi version of Meet Joe Black with all the interesting bits removed.
This of course was a terrible disappointment to me, as the 1950s version of the movie's one of my favourite sci-fi flicks of all time.
But, of course, none of this matters because we all know there was an even more important adaptation of Farewell to the Master than even those two.
And that was Worlds Unknown's version of the tale, as produced by Roy Thomas, Ross Andru and Wayne Howard. As with Marvel's adaptation of He That Hath Wings, I first encountered it in the pages of Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes comic.
The second thing that strikes me is that Gort isn't called Gort. He's called Gnut. As, "Gnut," looks suspiciously like a near anagram of a very rude word, I must confess I can't help feeling Gort was a better choice of name.
The third thing that strikes me is that, unlike the 1950s movie, it's not the military who're responsible for shooting Klaatu but a lone nutjob up a tree. Indeed, the military in this version seem a model of restraint and professionalism compared to the trigger happy fools of the 1950s movie.
This leads to a very different tale in which Klaatu's buried with honours and a pair of reporters are determined to spend a night in the museum in which Gnut is now housed, to see what he gets up to when there's no one around.
It turns out he uses audio recordings of animals and people in order to temporarily bring them back to life.
All of this culminates in him restoring Klaatu to health before he departs with the words, "It is I who am the master," ringing in the reporters' ears.
It's a much smaller scale tale than the one we're used to from the movie. It's also less dramatic. The action takes place almost exclusively in the museum in the course of one evening, there's little sense of threat and there's no message from Klaatu about mankind mending its violent ways or else.
In this sense, they're very different tales, using the same basic ideas to tell completely different stories. I've never read the Harry Bates original, so can't comment on how true to it this adaptation is but, as it's written by Roy Thomas, I suspect it's probably extremely faithful.
So, which do I prefer? The 1950s movie version or the 1970s comic book one?
I must admit, I do prefer the movie version. I can't help feeling it's far more potent and memorable because of the greater sense of menace engendered by Gort, the race against time, the manhunt for Klaatu and the big final speech. The pacifist message of the movie may be somewhat garbled by its order that peace be maintained by the threat of total annihilation from a police state but it does give the film a sense of drama, urgency and purpose that this version ultimately and deliberately lacks.
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