Book Vs Movie: “The War of the Worlds”
The H.G. Wells Science Fiction Classic Vs the 2005 Steven Spielberg Movie
The Margos go back to both the world of science fiction and the film work of Steven Spielberg talking about the H.G. Wells classic novel The War of the Worlds (1898) which has been adapted as a successful radio program, films, and a TV series.
The novel is about a martian invasion that hits London and an unnamed narrator who escapes, is separated from his wife, and then has up close and traumatic interactions with the Martians who are taking over England. They use heat rays as a weapon and depend on human blood to feed themselves. The narrator meets with people underground on his way back home who want to fight the invaders. He eventually gets home (after being taken care of by a kindly family) and reunites with his wife who somehow survives the alien attacks. In the end, the Martians were killed by “earthly pathogens.”
Considered one of the first novels that supposed that otherworldly creatures could be smarter than humans–the story is a classic and the basis/inspiration for science fiction work for decades afterward.
In 1938, Orson Welles’s radio program, created a one-hour play based on the story (which Welles most likely never read) and included some of his favorite writers and produces for The Mercury Theatre on the Air including John Houseman and Howard Koch. The setting was central New Jersey and the resulting panic was caused by an unsuspecting audience who thought the drama was real. Welles had to perform a mea culpa for the press (which he loved!) and it is considered one of the best radio dramas ever produced.
In this episode, we focus more on 2005’s The War of the Worlds directed by Spielberg which stars Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, and Tim Robbins and is set in New Jersey and New England. Two other members of the cast were in the 1953 adaptation--Ann Robinson and Gene Barry.
So, between the novel, radio program, and the movie–which did we prefer? Have a listen and find out!
In this ep the Margos discuss:
- The life of author H.G. Wells and how he changed science fiction
- Orson Welles’s influence on the storytelling of the 1938 radio play
- The major differences between the novel and the movie
- The cast: Tom Cruise (Ray Ferrier,) Dakota Fanning (Rachel Ferrier,) Justin Chatwin (Robbie Ferrier,) Mirando Otto (Mary Ann Ferrier,) Tim Robbins (Harlan Ogilvy,) Ann Robinson (Grandmother,) and Gene Barry (Grandfather)
- The Mercury Theatre 1938 production
- The War of the Worlds trailer
- “Ferry Disaster”
- “Fight on the Hill”
- “No Shield”
- Music by John Williams
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