Gort (The Day the Earth Stood Still)
|The Day the Earth Stood Still character|
Gort firing beam weapon.
|First appearance||"Farewell to the Master"|
|Portrayed by||Lock Martin (1951)
Computer Animated Character (CAC) (2008)
In the original short story "Farewell to the Master", on which the two films are based, the character was called Gnut.
The eight-foot metal robot accompanies Klaatu, a visitor to Earth from a distant planet, aboard a flying saucer. He does not speak, but uses a beam weapon projected from beneath a visor to vaporize weapons and obstacles. Klaatu describes him as being part of an interstellar police force. He announces that the people of the universe constructed numerous robots like Gort and gave them irrevocable powers to respond to violent actions in order to "preserve the peace." He goes on to say that "There's no limit to what Gort could do. He could destroy the Earth."
The character was based loosely on Gnut, a large green robot from outer space in "Farewell to the Master", a 1940 short story by Harry Bates which was used as the basis for Edmund H. North's screenplay. In the story, Gnut is believed to be the servant of his humanoid companion, but reveals himself, at the end, to have been the master.
On screen Gort is a large "seamless" robot that appears to be constructed from a single piece of "flexible metal". He was portrayed by 7'-7" (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 could appear seamless depending on the camera angle. Another fiberglass statue of Gort was used for close-ups of him firing his beam weapon or when the scene did not call for him to move. In order to maximize the height of the robot, the costume was made with lifts in the boots and was designed so that the figure's helmet stands nearly a foot above the top of Martin's head. Prisms were employed so that Martin could see through the costume's visor and air holes were provided under the robot's chin.
During most of the film, Gort remains motionless in front of the saucer, which rests on the National Mall in central Washington D. C. while scientists and military researchers examine him. At one point Klaatu communicates with him using signals from a flashlight. He also responds to spoken commands, including the famous line "Gort...Klaatu barada nikto", spoken by 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 and is not his original alien name but an acronym for "Genetically Organized Robotic Technology" assigned to the robot while it is being studied by the military and scientists.
In this rendition, GORT is composed of a vast swarm of "nanomachines" or "nano bugs", microscopic insect-like devices that self-replicate through the consumption of matter and energy (the swarm of nano bugs grow in size when fired upon by rockets), and are capable of disintegrating any object or substance they touch. When the need arises, GORT can transform from a solid humanoid form to a huge cloud, which then swarms around targets and devours them. In addition to this mode of attack, GORT still possesses his trademark eye-beam to destroy obstacles, and to also manipulate attacking fighter drones by hacking into their electronic systems via projected beams. He is neutralized by Klaatu at the end of the film to save humanity with a massive EMP that also shuts down all of humanity's electrical technology.
Unlike the 1951 version, the newer GORT robot has 5 digits on each hand, instead of the mitten-style hands. His feet, however, have no digits. Features such as the cuffs, belt, visor, and boots are gone and this version of GORT 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 (Klaatu 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.
- 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/T.V 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.
- 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.