The War of the Worlds was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series Mercury Theater, performed live on the air as a Halloween episode on October 30, 1938, and aired over the entire Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) radio network. Directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of the H. G. Wells’s original novel ‘War of the Worlds,‘ which relates the story of an alien invasion of Earth. The radio play’s story was adapted by and written primarily by Howard Koch and Anne Froelich with input from Welles and the rest of the Mercury Theatre on the Air staff. The setting was switched from 19th-century England to contemporary Grover’s Mill, an unincorporated village in West Windsor Township, New Jersey in the United States. The program’s format was a (simulated) live newscast of developing events. To this end, Welles played recordings of Herbert Morrison’s radio reports of the Hindenburg disaster for actor Frank Readick and the rest of the cast, to demonstrate the mood he wanted.
The first two thirds of the 55½ minute play was a contemporary retelling of events of the novel, presented as news bulletins. This approach was not new. Ronald Knox’s satirical newscast of a riot overtaking London over the British Broadcasting Company in 1926 had a similar approach (and created much the same effect on its audience). Welles had been influenced by the Archibald MacLeish dramas The Fall of the City and Air Raid, the former of which had used Welles himself in the role of a live radio news reporter. But the approach had never been taken with as much continued verisimilitude, and the innovative format has been cited[by whom?] as a key factor in the confusion that followed.
A 2005 BBC report suggested that Welles may have been influenced by an earlier hoax broadcast by Ronald Knox on BBC Radio. Knox’s 1926 broadcast mixed breathless reporting of a revolution sweeping across London with dance music and sound effects of destruction. Knox’s broadcast also caused a minor panic among listeners who did not know that the program was fictional. An 1874 hoax in the New York Herald claiming that wild animals had escaped from the Central Park Zoo seems to have had a similar effect.
The power of things from the sky to induce mass panic was amply displayed when Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre of the Air broadcast their 1953 version of the War of the Worlds. On the evening of October 30, 1938, the radio show presented the story as an on-going news broadcast. They told listeners that spaceships were landing in the USA and that Martians were coming to get them. It caused panic throughout the land and a stunned Orson Welles had to apologise to the nation.
In 1953, George Pal decided to film “War of the Worlds,” because he said, “With all the talk of flying saucers, War of the Worlds had become especially timely. And that was one of the reasons we updated the story.”
There is a feeling that in a lot of these flying saucer movies we deserve to be invaded because we have become decadent and lazy.
So how can we stop these aliens from attacking us? The answer is provided in Pal’s War of the Worlds, where he shows the beleaguered survivors of the Martian invasion congregating in a church. Their prayers are answered when the Martian machines start falling from the skies. The voice-over tells us that God-given Earthly bacteria killed them but protected us. Religion, in other words, can stop us from being invaded by these evil aliens. Certainly, religion is a powerful force that the ego can use to keep the id and superego forces in check, but by the 1960s we could not be so certain God would save us from the aliens.
The War of the Worlds, is a 2005 American science fiction film adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel of the same name, directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Colin Wilson, written by Josh Friedman and David Koepp. It is one of three film adaptations of War of the Worlds released that year, alongside The Asylum’s version and Pendragon Pictures’ version. It stars Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier, a divorced dock worker estranged from his children and living separately from them. As his ex-wife drops their children off for him to look after for a few days, Earth is invaded by aliens (loosely based on H. G. Wells’ Martians) driving Tripods and the earth’s armies are defeated, and Ray tries to protect his children and flee to Boston to rejoin his ex-wife.
War of the Worlds marks Spielberg and Cruise’s second collaboration, after the 2002 film Minority Report. The film was shot in 73 days, using five different sound stages as well as locations at Connecticut, Staten Island, California, Virginia, and New Jersey. The film was surrounded by a secrecy campaign so few details would be leaked before its release. Tie-in promotions were made with several companies, including Hitachi. The film was released in United States on 29 June and in United Kingdom on 1 July. The film generally received positive reviews, and attained a 74 percent “fresh” rating on the film review aggregation of Rotten Tomatoes, based on 250 reviews. War of the Worlds was also a box office success, and was 2005’s fourth most successful film both domestically, with $234 million in North America, and worldwide, with $591 million overall.
In War of the Worlds, Ray Ferrier (Cruise) is a divorced dockworker and less-than-perfect father. When his ex-wife and her new husband drop off his teenage son Robbie and young daughter Rachel for a rare weekend visit, a strange and powerful lightning storm suddenly touches down. What follows is the extraordinary battle for the future of humankind through the eyes of one American family fighting to survive it in this contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells seminal classic sci-fi thriller.