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Aliens For Peace: The Day The Earth Stood Still, Bernard Hermann, And Enhancing Emotion Through Music

2628 words - 11 pages

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a classic science-fiction film, ranked as one of the most important movies in American history. It explores the possibilities of aliens and life beyond our planet, while also touching on religious ideas. Specifically, the movie has underlying themes on the idea of a higher power, even beyond those with much higher scientific and technological intelligence than humans from earth. In the movie, Klaatu, the visiting alien, presents an ultimatum to the humans—stop fighting one another, or the entire planet will be destroyed. Klaatu is not only depicted as a messiah, but he also mentions how there are higher powers beyond him, which brings about a theory of religion within the movie. The use of music and silence enhances the emotions of the viewer that coincide with extraterrestrials, religious elements, and scientific knowledge that would otherwise just be presented through dialogue.
Klaatu arrives in a UFO with a message for earth, though no one knows what it is, and everyone is quick to assume that these aliens are there for evil. This feeling of fear and curiosity that the crowd has, along with the viewers, is portrayed through the music. In Anthony Bushard’s article, “Waging the Peace: Bernard Herrmann and The Day the Earth Stood Still,” Bushard explains the importance of the combination of the tones of the music and the feelings this conveys. Furthermore, Bushard explores the originality that is presented through the music of The Day the Earth Stood Still, all created by Bernard Herrmann. He writes, “With his contribution to The Day the Earth Stood Still, Herrmann not only enhanced the feelings of fear and paranoia inherent in the narrative, but also became the most prominent member of a new school of film music composition.” Most importantly within this quote is that it becomes apparent that the musical background of the movie enhances the fear and paranoia that goes along with the arrival of extraterrestrials. In part, this music allows for Klaatu to be put in the spotlight, as the viewer ends up associating the music with some higher, extraterrestrial force. With this, there is specific music that leads to suspense and fear, so that the viewer can see that Klaatu is something different and stronger than anything else in the movie. Furthermore, music has the ability to enhance ones feelings. In all movies, there is music that is used to allow the view to discover what they should be feeling in each scene. In order to explain this at a more basic level, a Swiss Brain Research report describes how music directly affects the brain: “Based on these findings, we suggest that emotional pictures evoke a more cognitive mode of emotion perception, whereas congruent presentations of emotional visual and musical stimuli rather automatically evoke strong emotional feelings and experiences. ” Overall, it is apparent that music affects the feelings, so Bernard Hermann is able to create a sense of fear and...

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