Klaatu barada nikto

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Klaatu barada nikto
Character Klaatu (first)
Helen Benson (second)
Actor Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal
Created By Edmund H. North
First Used In The Day the Earth Stood Still

"Klaatu barada nikto" is a phrase originating from the science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). "Klaatu" is the name of the humanoid alien protagonist in the film. Klaatu (Michael Rennie) commanded Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) that, were anything to happen to him, she must utter the phrase to the robot Gort. In response, Gort desisted from destroying the Earth and resurrected Klaatu from death.[1]

No translation of the phrase was stated in the film. Philosophy professor Aeon J. Skoble speculates the famous phrase is a "safe-word" that is part of a fail-safe feature used during the diplomatic missions such as the one Klaatu and Gort make to Earth. With the use of the safe-word, Gort's deadly force can be deactivated in the event the robot is mistakenly triggered into a defensive posture. Skoble observes that the theme has evolved into a "staple of science fiction that the machines charged with protecting us from ourselves will misuse or abuse their power".[2] In this interpretation, the phrase apparently tells Gort that Klaatu considers escalation unnecessary.

The Robot Hall of Fame describes the phrase as "one of the most famous commands in science fiction"[3] and Frederick S. Clarke of Cinefantastique called it "the most famous phrase ever spoken by an extraterrestrial."[4]

Since the release of the movie, the phrase has appeared repeatedly in fiction and in popular culture. Some examples include:

  • 1982: the words are seen in the film Tron, posted on a sign hanging in Alan Bradley's cubicle (27:20). [5]
  • In the film Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, two of Jabba the Hutt's skiff guards are named Klaatu, an alien of the Nikto species, and Barada, an alien of the Klatooinian species. [6]
  • In the film Toys, the character Leland Zevo speaks the phrase to stop a rampaging robotic sea creature he calls the "Seaswine". [7]
  • In the film Army of Darkness, Ash has to speak similar words in order to retrieve the Necronomicon but fails to remember it properly ("Klaatu. .. Verada. .. Necktie...Nectar...Nickel..."). In the end he speaks the words again after consuming a potion, allowing him to return to his era. The words were altered from their original use because their meaning was unclear in the original.[8]
  • The June 7, 1994, edition of the now-defunct supermarket tabloid Weekly World News reported that 12 U.S. Senators were aliens from other planets, including Alan K. Simpson. Then-Senator Simpson's spokesman Charles Pelkey, when asked about Simpson's galactic origins, told the Associated Press: "We've got only one thing to say: Klaatu barada nikto."[9]
  • As an Easter egg, the web browser Mozilla Firefox 3 uses the phrase as the title of the page about:robots.
  • In the remake of the Day the Earth Stood Still, this line was added at Keanu Reaves insistance as he wanted to speak the famous line, and Klaatu used it near the beginning of the movie to shut down Gort after he got shot. He uses it again at the end when he touches the sphere. Although the line is not in the subtitles, it can be heard.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Pomerance, Murray (2006). Cinema and Modernity. Rutgers University Press. p. 125. ISBN 0813538165. 
  2. ^ Skoble, Aeon J. (2007). "Technology and Ethics in The Day the Earth Stood Still". in Steven M. Sanders. The Philosophy of Science Fiction Film. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813124727. 
  3. ^ "The Robot Hall of Fame: Gort". 2006 Inductees: Gort. Carnegie Mellon University. 2006. http://www.robothalloffame.org/06inductees/gort.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-18. 
  4. ^ Clarke, Frederick S. (1970). Cinefantastique: 2. 
  5. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084827/movieconnections
  6. ^ Rebelscum.com: Star Wars Power of the Force 2 Photo Archives
  7. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105629/trivia
  8. ^ Harms, Daniel (2003). The Necronomicon Files: The Truth Behind Lovecraft's Legend. Red Wheel/Weiser. p. 255. ISBN 1892389002. 
  9. ^ "Senators Jokingly Confirm Tabloid Claim They Are Space Aliens", Associated Press, May 25, 1994
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