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)|
|Created by||Harry Bates|
|Portrayed by||Lock Martin (1951)|
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 head 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 Astounding Science Fiction short story written by Harry Bates, used as the basis for Edmund H. North's screenplay. In that 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 seven-foot, seven-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 from any angle in the completed scenes. A fiberglass statue of Gort was also 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 so that Martin could see forward through the suit's visor area during certain shots; air holes were provided under the robot's wide chin and jaw, and these can be seen in several close-ups of Gort's head.
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 attempt to examine both the robot and the saucer. At one point, Klaatu communicates with him using reflected 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.
G.O.R.T. is made up of 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, this newer G.O.R.T. 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 of the first Gort are gone. The 2008 G.O.R.T has a more simplistic overall surface design that in close-up appears to "move" due to its nanorobotic 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, although 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.
At 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".
Gort appears in the FBI lineup in "The Springfield Files", an episode of The Simpsons. With him are other TV aliens, such as Gordon Shumway aka Alf, Chewbacca, Marvin the Martian, and one of the Kang and Kodos team.
Gort is also referenced in Season 7, episode 9 of Futurama- A Clockwork Origin. The Planet Express crew are tried for crimes against science on a planted inhabited by rapidly evolving robots. The front of the court building reads "The Supreme Gort."
- North, Edmund H. "'The Day the Earth Stood Still'." ScifiScripts.com, February 21, 1951. Retrieved: January 29, 2015.
- Gleiberman, Owen. "Review of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)'." Entertainment Weekly, December 10, 2008. Retrieved: January 29, 2015.
- White, Cindy. "On Set: Day The Earth Stood Still." Sci Fi Wire, November 17, 2008. Retrieved: January 29, 2015.
- Mitchel, Gary. "The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame." RevolutionSF.com, October 18, 2005. Retrieved: January 29, 2015.
- Burkart, Gregory. "Get a taste of Eric Millikin's totally sweet Candy Monster Mosaics."" FEARnet. Retrieved: January 29, 2015.
- Millikin, Eric. "Eric Millikin's totally sweet Halloween candy monster portraits|last." Detroit Free Press. Retrieved: January 29, 2015.
- Bates, Harry. "Farewell to the Master (full text)." Astounding Stories, October 1940
- Bradbury, Ray. "The Day the Earth Stood Still II: The Evening of the Second Day." scifiscripts.com, March 10, 1981.
- Haspel, Paul. "Future Shock on the National Mall." Journal of Popular Film & Television (Taylor & Francis Ltd), Volume 34, Issue 2, Summer 2006, pp. 62–71. ISSN 0195-6051.
- Parish, James Robert and Michael R. Pitts. The Great Science Fiction Pictures. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. 1977. ISBN 0-8108-1029-8.
- Strick, Philip. Science Fiction Movies. London: 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. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.