Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Heart Marauding Martians: War of the Worlds

I was going to write a post about how much I like War of the Worlds, but then I realized:  I have been doing this a long, long time.  I bet I already wrote something on that.  

And then I thought:
League, you clever bastard!  You're good looking AND brilliant.  

Previous War of the Worlds posts:

War of the Worlds, 70 Years Ago
The League goes to see "War of the Worlds"

Lo and behold, there you go.  Two posts to refer to.  And I'm still a fan.  I was looking at my copy of the DVD and realized I hadn't watched it in... oh, two years or so.

Perhaps I respond to the movie because (a) the radio play freaked me out when I first heard it, knowing exactly what the story was with the broadcast, not to mention I was listening to it on cassette, and (b) because I recall watching the movie with The Admiral and being too old to be genuinely scared by movies, but realizing this was really one of the first films I'd seen where "we" lost.

All that aside, some of what's nifty is in the details. I still like that the martians in the 1953 movie are truly non-humanoid (unlike, say, Klaatu). 

They also don't come with a message to save us or demonstrate some sort of enlightenment. In fact, they basically show up with canisters of Humans-B-Gone.

I have only eye/s for you...
I haven't read enough criticism of the book, play or movies, but when I read the book and watch the movie, I can't help but think that the Martians more or less follow the pattern of colonization that humans have been fond of for our long duration, something Bradbury explored in the unrelated Martian Chronicles, which witnesses mankind slowly colonizing the Red Planet.  Wells' martians aren't as stupid and slow about their "colonization", arriving in gas-spewing, death beam projecting blitzkrieg, but the idea is the same.

Land:  they aren't making more of it. And on a gut level, we kind of understand the terror of clearing out the locals to make way for our strip malls and Tasty Freeze franchises (or whatever Martians ultimately planned to do) because that's what we're really good at. Just, you know, the audience reading the book hadn't been on the receiving end in quite a while.

And these sorts of fables stick with you, I suppose.

I'm also a huge fan of the design of the Martian vehicles as designed in the book (at least how its described, which is @#$%ing terrifying, and which Spielberg sort of got right), and while they couldn't animate the tripod legs for the 50's-era film and so made the vehicle a hovercraft, it's still totally rad. One day I shall own a model of the Martian invasion crafts.  Oh, yes, I will.

A surefire way to not get cut off on the freeway.
The opening scenes in Grover's Mill (in the radio broadcast and movie) are epically freaky as humans try to apply reason, goodwill, etc... and are met by (spoilers!) deathray.  From that point on, things just get worse, too.

There have been a few nifty cross-overs for fans like myself.

As you know, Superman appeared in 1938, the same year of the "War of the Worlds" Mercury Theater Broadcast.  Somebody ran some numbers and put this out a while back, which I thought was a nifty read.

Superman tries to prevent these nefarious illegal aliens from dropping anchor babies
And for those of you who've never read it, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2 is basically the LOEG v. War of the Worlds.
Martian X-treme off-roading

This little post sort of suggested further exploration of War of the Worlds in comics, so I amy need to look into that.

For some serious weirdness,look up Jeff Wayne's prog-rock musical thing of War of the Worlds.

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