Gort (The Day the Earth Stood Still)
|The Day the Earth Stood Still character|
Gort firing beam weapon.
|First appearance||"Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates (1940)|
|Portrayed by||Lock Martin (1951)
Computer Animated Character (CAC) (2008)
In the original science fiction short story "Farewell to the Master," on which the two films are based, the character is called Gnut.
The eight-foot metal robot accompanies Klaatu, a visitor to Earth from an unnamed, distant planet, aboard a flying saucer. He does not speak, but uses a laserlike weapon projected from beneath a visor to vaporize weapons and other physical obstacles. Klaatu describes "him" as one of an interstellar police force, holding irrevocable powers to "preserve the peace" by destroying any aggressor.
The character was loosely based on Gnut, in "Farewell to the Master," a 1940 science fiction short story by Harry Bates, used as the basis for Edmund H. North's screenplay. In the story Gnut is a moving green statue apparently attendant upon Klaatu, but identified, in the terminus of the story, as the eponymous "master" over Klaatu.
On screen Gort is a large "seamless" robot apparently constructed from a single piece of "flexible metal." He was portrayed by 7-foot, 7-inch (231 cm)-tall actor Lock Martin wearing a thick foam-rubber suit designed and built by Addison Hehr. Two suits were created, fastened alternately from the front or back so that the robot would appear seamless in completed scenes. A fiberglass statue of Gort was used for the close-ups of the firing of his energy beam weapon or when a scene did not require that he move. To maximize the height of the robot, the Gort suit was made with lifts in the boots and designed so that the head piece stood nearly a foot above Martin's own head. Prisms were employed so that Martin could see forward through the suit's visor, and air holes were provided under the robot's wide chin.
During most of the film, Gort remains motionless in front of Klaatu's saucer, which rests on the National Mall in central Washington D. C., while scientists and military researchers examine both the robot and the saucer. At one point, Klaatu communicates with him using signals from a borrowed flashlight. Gort also responds to spoken commands, including the famous dialog line "Klaatu barada nikto," spoken by actor Patricia Neal's character toward the end of the film.
Gort is an all-CGI effect in the remake. Like the earlier version, he does not speak and shoots deadly beams from his single eye. He is significantly taller in this version: about twenty-eight feet. The name is only used once, as the acronym G.O.R.T., which stands for "Genetically Organized Robotic Technology," assigned to the robot by the military and scientists.
In this rendition, G.O.R.T. is a vast swarm of "microscopic insect-like devices that self-replicate through the consumption of matter and energy, capable of disintegrating any substance they touch. In addition to this mode of attack, G.O.R.T. still possesses his trademark eye-beam to destroy obstacles, and can also manipulate attacking fighter drones by hacking into their electronic control systems. He is neutralized by Klaatu at the end of the film with a massive EMP that also shuts down all of humanity's electrical technology.
Unlike the 1951 version, the newer G.O.R.T. robot has 5 digits on each hand, instead of the mitten-style hands of the 1951 robot; his feet, however, have no digits. Features such as the cuffs, belt, visor, and boots are gone and the 2008 version, which has a more simplistic surface design, though this appears to "move" in close-up due to his composition.
Comparing 1951 and 2008 performances
Owen Gleiberman writes that "Gort isn't so lovey-dovey" in the remake; rather, "he's like a super-tall, obsidian Oscar statue wreaking havoc." At the insistence of Keanu Reeves, the phrase "Klaatu barada nikto" was included in the remake (Keanu says the words when Gort reacts to his shooting, though the words are very distorted).
- A life-size replica of the 1951 Gort is on display at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. Collectors can also own a screen-accurate Gort by visiting The Robot Man website, a company offering many different feature film and television prop robot replicas.
- A photo of Gort, with Ringo Starr (as Klaatu), appears on the cover of Starr's 1974 Goodnight Vienna album.
- In episode 3 of Freaks and Geeks, Sam dresses as Gort for Halloween.
- In Futurama season 6 episode 9 Professor Farnsworth is tried in the 'Superior Gort' for 'crimes against science'.
- On The Simpsons season 8 episode The Springfield Files, Gort appears in an FBI lineup along with other famous movie/TV aliens, which also included Marvin the Martian, Alf, Chewbacca and either Kang or Kodos.
- Experimental pop artist Eric Millikin created a large mosaic portrait of Billy out of Halloween candy and spiders as part of his "Totally Sweet" series in 2013.
- 26 minutes and 15 seconds into the science fiction film Tron (1982) there is a reference to The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) written on the wall of a cubicle: "Gort Klaatu barada nikto."
- In the fantasy film Army of Darkness (1992) the words to avoid the awakening of the evil within the Necronomicon is "Klaatu Barada Nikto."
- In expansion packs to the 4X game Sword of the Stars, there is a grand menace encounter called the "Peacekeeper Enforcer" that attempts to disarm worlds by targeting large or aggressive fleets. The flying saucer's primary feature is a laserlike weapon that vaporizes other ships. In the source code, this menace is referred to as "Ortgay," a pig-latin reference to Gort.
- North, Edmund H. (1951-02-21). "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Original Script. ScifiScripts.com. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Gleiberman, Owen (2008-12-10). "Review of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Cindy White (November 17, 2008). "On Set: Day The Earth Stood Still". Sci Fi Wire. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- Mitchel, Gary (2005-10-18). "The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame". RevolutionSF.com. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Burkart, Gregory. "Get a Taste of Eric Millikin's Totally Sweet Candy Monster Mosaics". FEARnet. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Millikin, Eric. "Eric Millikin's totally sweet Halloween candy monster portraits". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Bates, Harry (October 1940). "Farewell to the Master (full text)". Astounding Stories. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
- Bradbury, Ray (1981-03-10). "The Day the Earth Stood Still II: The Evening of the Second Day". scifiscripts.com.
- Haspel, Paul (Summer 2006). "Future Shock on the National Mall". Journal of Popular Film & Television (Taylor & Francis Ltd) 34 (2): 62–71. ISSN 0195-6051.
- Parish, James Robert and Pitts, Michael R. Pitts. The Great Science Fiction Pictures. 1977. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-8108-1029-8.
- Strick, Philip. Science Fiction Movies. Octopus Books Limited. 1976. ISBN 0-7064-0470-X.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition. 2009. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.