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Sunday, 26 April 2009

WAR OF THE WORLDS 1953 VERSION


WAR OF THE WORLDS
1953
DIRECTED BY BYRON HASKIN
82 minutes
Available on DVD/Blue-ray

The fact that this version doesn't star Tom Cruise must be a point in its favour. And of course it was made during the 50's when science fiction was obsessed with the possibilities of invaders from other planets.

Some of the acting is a little wooden on times but the films brief running time means that it doesn't outstay its welcome and the special effects still stand up well today. Changing the Martian ships to a sinister Stingray type design rather than H. G. Wells' original tripod design also works cinematically and the reveal of the humanoid/octopoid creature is convincing. The model work particularly the villages the Martians destroy also looks good on the screen.
The film was updated from Wells' 1890 London to modern day California which was perhaps the wisest way to go. And even if on times the wires are visible working the Martian ships the effects were regarded good enough to take the Academy Award for Special Effects. The films was also nominated for the best musical score and best film editing.

The film is still fun to watch in the effects laden world of 2009 and stands up well because it refuses to take itself too seriously and concentrates on telling a damn good story.

Maybe it's my age but I much prefer this version to the Speilberg/Cruise version and I would rate this as the definitive movie adaption of Wells' book- at least until someone comes along and makes it in its original Victoian London setting, that is. It's also one of only a few 1950's SCI-FI movies not to be full of cold war paranoia which has helped to keep it fresh and watchable all these years later.

5 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Saw this in the theater when I was a kid, and it scared the heck out of me. I still have vivid memories of several scenes.

I.J. Parnham said...

I agree about being scared. That picture you have of the hand on the shoulder got me as a kid. And the ships appearing unscathed after having nuclear bombs dropped on them is a great sf uh-oh moment despite them being later defeated for the want of a hankie.

Even a Martian threatening me with a death ray couldn't make me watch the Tom Cruise version though.

I.J. Parnham said...

Bizarre coincidence but while reading something else I came across this great model of a war of the worlds craft:

http://grrm.livejournal.com/82005.html

Charles Gramlich said...

I like the original version much better myself. It has some soul to it. One of my favorite of the older SF movies.

ARCHAVIST said...

IAN - Thanks for the link. That's an interesting site George has going there. I've added it to my blog roll.