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What Does “The Day the Earth Stood Still” Really Say?

DayearthstillFew phrases strike glee into a geek’s heart like "Klaatu barada nikto." A legendary line from the landmark ’50s sci-fi flick The Day the Earth Stood Still , the sentence still sparks heated nerd debates about its exact meaning (feel free to give your best guesses below). It’s been referenced in everything from Star Wars to The X-Files to World of Warcraft. When a humanoid alien named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) lands in Washington D.C., he’s promptly shot dead; but he’s brought back to life by his imposing robot companion Gort. But Gort doesn’t just have the power to heal. As Klaatu warns his Earthling lady friend Helen (Patricia Neal): "There’s no limit to what he could do. He could destroy the Earth." Only the words "Klaatu barada nikto" will keep him in check. Released when the wounds of World War II were still fresh and the threat of the Cold War was imminent, The Day the Earth Stood Still eerily reflects a paranoid and violent era…which may explain why it’s currently being remade with Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly. Now that is sure to inspire as many fanboy fights as the meaning of "Klaatu barada nikto."

The Day the Earth Stood Still plays tonight, Friday, January 11 at 11 p.m. | 10C on AMC.

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