In the original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), there is a scene late in the film in which Klaatu (Michael Rennie) communicates with the robot Gort. He does so by shining his flashlight on the wall in front of the robot (and its 'face') as it stands guard in front of their spaceship.

gort klaatu

What is Klaatu telling Gort, specifically? Is he using Morse code, or are the flashes of light nonsensical?

  • 5
    Interesting question. Someone who knows morse code should look up the scene in question. However, it's likely that it's not morse code. Klaatu and Gort are aliens, and it wouldn't make sense to use Earth morse code - especially around a military base where someone might be able to read it. Very likely it's an alien version of morse; to us, nonsensical, but to them, very meaningful.
    – Tim
    Mar 16, 2017 at 2:48
  • @Tim I agree, it doesn't make much sense for it to be morse code. But who knows? Klaatu is aware of "our United Nations." ;-)
    – stevvve
    Mar 16, 2017 at 15:55
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    @stevvve And Klaatu speaks English pretty well. (Point being he knows how we communicate.) Mar 17, 2017 at 0:46

1 Answer 1


Probably not because there are other scenes where flashing lights were used to communicate information, and Morse code assuredly would not have been used there.

I do not know Morse code, but I would still reason that this scene most probably does not use it (and if it did, I would consider it a plot hole). This is because there are other scenes in which flashing (strobing) lights are used, and where there is no reason to use Morse code. These scenes occur within the ship where we are in a "100% alien environment/situation". And it occurred more than once (could not find YouTube clips):

  • Immediately after the scene in the question, Klaatu orders Gort to stand guard while he goes into the ship in order to program a global blackout. We see strobing lights as Klaatu speaks in his native tongue. I am pretty sure that he was having a dialog with the ship. That strobing light was most definitely not Morse code.

enter image description here

  • After the classic "Klaatu Barada Nikto", Gort brings Helen into the ship. Now Gort has a "dialog" with strobing lights. We can be 100% sure that Gort understands strobing lights, and we see that light within the ship communicating with Gort -- not Morse code.

enter image description here

  • Something similar happens after Gort retrieves Klaatu and performs a medical procedure to revive him.

I, for one, firmly believe that these strobing lights are a language that is not from Earth. Klaatu is not using Morse code, but his "strobing" in not nonsensical; He is giving orders. If you recall, once Klaatu was in the clear, he very authoritatively spoke an order to Gort -- probably to guard the entrance to the ship.

What is Klaatu telling Gort?

My interpretation: He is ordering him to make the way clear for him to enter the ship incognito.

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