No, I had never heard (nor remembered if I had heard) that phrase before we watched the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. I didn't find out what it meant either but did learn it has since been used in other sci fi movies. Whatever its meaning, it stops deadly action in its tracks.
Science fiction is not my usual first choice for a movie. I have seen quite a few of them though, read less of the books, but even I see that often there are gems inside the action that make them worth more than simple entertainment.
In 2008's The Day the Earth Stood Still, the alien is played by Keanu Reeves, and he has come down to save the earth (important distinction on how that word is being used). It's a pretty simple sci fi but then again, it's not.
One of the elements of the film went right over my head when it happened but Farm Boss is a chemist, so it didn't bypass his. He explained it later.
A scientist (John Cleese in a small part), who the heroine (Helen) had brought Klaatu (the alien) to meet, had previously written a formula on a blackboard. While waiting to be joined by the scientist, Klaatu looked at it, erased some of the characters, and wrote something different.
Helen was in shock at such a desecration and said he won't like that.
Klaatu replied, he won't mind.
When the scientist looked at the changed formula, he at first was taken aback and said but that's wrong. Klaatu said it is not. The scientist then studied the new formula more carefully with a growing awareness of what it could mean (Cleese is great in this kind of part).
As happens so often with me, its meaning ties into something else I have been reading [There are no signs of god so why believe]. That blog has been exploring the idea that if science cannot find it, measure it, and define it, it does not exist although the blog writer knows science can change what is known. Which is where the formula comes in.
The first formula, Farm Boss said, was the one that says (paraphrasing) life is in a closed box. It is all within a circle that impacts each other thing.
Klaatu's formula said that was wrong. The formula he drew changed how it worked. Life is not limited to that box nor to concentric circles. It is bigger than we know.
We all like boxes or most of us do even if we say we do not. They are what allow us to operate without having to think all the time. Boxes make religion convenient or relationships to others or even the world. We operate in them because it's convenient and faster than a constant reevaluation.
Where our problem comes is when we refuse to get out of our box when the data changes. We are in say a circle of behavioral patterns and act as though it cannot be different. Maybe it could but we find it easier to stay with what is. When we live life the most fully, we are open to changing boxes. Our thinking might seem to be in a box but it does not have to remain there.
As for the key phrase from the movie, Klaatu barada nikto, wouldn't it be wonderful if such words really worked? If we could change how we are as humans and become less destructive to earth; so that no alien had to remove us nor would we end up removing ourselves due to our short-sightedness, our greed and selfishness. If enough of us said it, might it work to stop our own deadly actions?
Klaatu Barada Nikto!
Photo is sky from the trip south. Often with a picture like this, I would have photo shopped out the tiny poles but thought this time it was rather apropos because it's how tiny we are in comparison to it all. It is how little we really understand of the cosmos-- ego not withstanding.