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War of the Worlds
The setting of the movie was America in the 1950s, calm peaceful, and utterly quiet….till the Martians come. The same is with the novel, apart from being set in the major power that was England in the late 1800s, life goes on the same. Including, but not limited to, human naiveté of forces greater than them. Though set in different time periods, humanity is as arrogant as ever in their warring abilities, a problem soon to become an issue. Especially when forces they don’t even understand decide Earth is at its prime to invade, like an acre of crops at the height of harvest.
Considering the movie’s portrayal of H.G. Wells novel at the time of when it was made, I would oblige to say it has some significant scenes beyond their time. But, being fifty years since then, I would have to be a sci-fi/ special effects fan and state that there are still some scenes better described in the reader’s own imagination than that of Hollywood film connoisseurs‘.
Firstly, I would definitely disagree on the aliens’ sort of, near familiar appearance. Though unearthly, they did not move as if weighed down by gravity like in the novel, and neither did they appear as I pictured them at all. The heat ray and monstrous tripods I pictured with a certain more quality, as well. For instance, the tripods weren’t even tripods, but these flying saucers, stereotypical, not daring to be out of the ordinary. The heat ray, while realistic, the men turning to ash was slightly…outdated. Thus saying, the victims, and most of the actors in general, at the hands of the Martians acted, or overacted per se, as was common in the 1950s.
But, I did enjoy the mass exodus of all people from all ends of the earth, and how every human being held a glimmer of humanity, and were united in the same cause of defending all from these invaders. For some twisted time, there was no war, just every country using the same course of action, escape. The depiction of the planets and surfaces of those planets was also realistic and beyond its time, but as far as that, the novel was still the far superior version.
Being a piece of invasion literature, the novel held many symbolic images, since an author’s writing ultimately reflects his or her own views on the world surrounding. And the movie, being a novel adaptation, also portrayed nearly all of these views well. You can easily tell within the first few chapters that Wells feels that humanity is doomed to the Martian’s cold, heartless, and all-out ruthless fate if we continue on the arrogant war path we are on now, or if technology outpaces our compassion. Along with this, he also sends a warning that the top will not always stay the top forever, beware, he states, England cannot be number one forever. Someone, whether alien or simply foreign, is always prowling on the edges, waiting for you to show a single crack in your silver suit of armor. Aliens are basically symbolic for the person that will one day rise above you, no matter how great your empire is, the time will come for you to fall.
Stressed and well explained in the movie are the minor themes of crazed humans in crisis. While the larger powers are at work trying to save us, we cower and run, as most bystanders would. Money is useless, food is precious, and human life is near as worthless as money, to both aliens and fellow humans. If there ever will be an alien invasion, human or otherwise, humanity shall become inhumane.
The themes of this story are based on love versus instinct to flee. Wells basically says, “Watch out, the Germans are coming!” He also warns us to never become too power hungry, or choose technology over love.
The crossover novel to movie themes would be:
Humanity can, in fact, be united in a common cause when a crisis affects us all. And power never lasts forever, neither does humanity when it comes to survival, apparently.
Time and place, I personally believe, does not alter the themes, so much as change only the delineation of the themes. The movies softens humanity’s inhumanity, though, when all scientists and soldiers make one last effort to save themselves. I also believe, since Wells is trying to make a point, that his way of showing the slow corrosion of our Christianity and need to save is much harsher, like when a carriage snapped a man’s back in two trying to flee danger.
Though love interests, goals, and even places are changed, I believe Wells still gives us his message, Hollywood changed or otherwise.
Humanity versus sanity.
The War of the Worlds:
Let’s hope it never has a sequel featuring reality……
As stated in the earlier chapters of the novel, “And slowly and surely they drew their plans against us…[but] no one gave a thought…busied in their own little affairs.”
Space is infinite, never power, so never assume that there isn’t that one monster lurking in the shadows, waiting to draw their own plans against you. A warning well remembered, even if it was meant for England when the novel was written. Perhaps that’s why it remains unrivaled in the genre of science fiction, and maybe why we are still ever fascinated by its horrific ingenuity today.