The War of the Worlds ★★★

Most of the sci-fi film from the early and mid 1950’s have a Cold War subtext to them. I found WAR OF THE WORLDS surprisingly void of this metaphorical complexity.

The film opens with a voice over describing the first and second world wars, and how the entire planet was occupied in the war efforts. We then move on to a quite California town. The residence see what they believe is a meteor crash landing in the hills. We soon find out it is one of a planet wide alien space craft invasion. These aliens seem to only have destruction on their minds. Despite the U.S. and other countries military best efforts they are unable to even put a dent into the alien front. Their reign of terror threatens to completely wipe out the human race.

The audience proxy is a scientist by the name of Clayton. He is trying to study the alien crafts, in an attempt to understand and hopefully stop them. He meets a young lady with an interest in science, who falls in love with him. She introduces him to her uncle, a priest, and that sets up a science vs. faith dynamic that plays out at the end of the movie.

The film is a campy, low-budget B movie, complete with bad acting, terrible dialogue, and charmingly hokey special effects. I have not seen the Spielberg remake, but this is a property with a lot of potential. Because it is void of subtext, you could insert whatever subversion you wanted in a very organic way.

The end of the film brings the religious element back into play. The annihilation is adverted by an act of God. I was blown away by how specific and how unseeded the resolution was. It felt like the filmmakers just ran out of cash and had to end production by the end of the week.

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