Movie Mirrors Index

The War of the Worlds

(1953 c 85')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Adapted from the novel by H. G. Wells, Martians invade the Earth and have extraordinary technology for destroying things. Humans try to fight back with military methods which do not work.

         Intelligent creatures on Mars need to go to another planet and go to Earth. People see a meteor crash down, and they put out the fires. A ranger tells campers the meteor is very large. Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) asks Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) questions, and then he tells her he is the expert. He also meets her pastor Matthew Collins (Lewis Martin). Clayton uses a Geiger counter and detects radiation. The sheriff decides to keep people away from it. Collins invites Clayton to stay at his home.

         At night three men go to look at it and see a round door unscrewing. They hide and see a strange creature extend its head and neck out. They decide to make the first contact and approach with a white flag. They are attacked with fiery energy, and the electricity goes out in the town. At the party people find the phone is not working, and their watches have stopped. Clayton shows that his watch is magnetized, and a compass points to the meteor. Police take Clayton in their car, and they see the remains of the three men. One policeman drives the car away, and it is attacked. Clayton and the sheriff hide. The military is called out. A reporter discovers that others have landed too. A plane drops a flare, and they see the creature attack the plane with rays. The army uses tanks. Clayton tells Sylvia that Col. Ralph Heffner (Vernon Rich) is in charge. General Mann (Les Tremayne) arrives to observe and says they are in South America and near London and Naples. They have reports of massacres. Mann says this is the only place where humans have surrounded them.

         A strange machine or creature lifts off the ground, and the army prepares to shoot. Collins suggests they communicate first. Collins walks toward them, and Sylvia screams. He is attacked with a ray, and the army starts shooting. Clayton says they have protective covering, as they are unaffected. The machines shoot rays that disintegrate their targets. Clayton tells the General that his weapons are useless against them. A soldier catches on fire. Col. Heffner orders a retreat, and then he is disintegrated. Clayton and Sylvia escape in a plane. The air force is attacking. Clayton and Sylvia crash land and hide.

         In the city a reporter says no one has stopped them yet. General Mann talks to Washington by phone and then talks to reporters. Wild animals flee. Sylvia sleeps in Clayton’s arms, and he wakes her. They go to a farmhouse, and she cooks eggs. They talk, and then another one lands, wrecking the house. Clayton and Sylvia hide from the probe, which Clayton says is a television camera. Sylvia sees a creature briefly. Clayton uses an axe to destroy the camera on the probe. A creature puts its claws on Sylvia, but Clayton gets rid of it and sees a trace of blood. They run away as the house burns up.

         The Martians cause people to flee in various countries. News goes from London to the UN in New York and to Washington, the strategic center. The army plans to use the atomic bomb near Los Angeles. There a biologist says their blood is very anemic. They are not used to bright light on Mars. A flying wing takes off, and the area is evacuated. People take cover, and the bomb is dropped. They feel strong wind and see the mushroom cloud. The flying machines have not been touched. General Mann says they will fight them in Los Angeles. A scientist has predicted the Martians will conquer the world in six days. Clayton says they cannot beat their machines, and so they must beat them.

         The city is being evacuated. Sylvia drives a schoolbus. Clayton is left behind and drives a truck. He is mobbed by panicky people, and looters take his instruments. He finds the truck crashed with the schoolbus. Martian machines attack the city. Two MPs offer Clayton a ride, but he wants to find Sylvia. He goes to a church and hears singing. He goes in and hears the priest praying. In another church he finds Dr. Bilderbeck. Clayton finds Sylvia as the destruction gets closer. They embrace, and a Martian machine crashes. People see the machine open. An arm appears and then stops moving. Clayton says it is dead and that they were praying for a miracle. The Martians could not withstand the germs on the Earth.

         This scientific fantasy, though conceived long before by Wells, reflects the nuclear age when technology has leaped greatly in destructive capacity. Rockets may mean contact with other planets, and so an encounter with very different beings is projected. The Martians had many advantages, but they had disadvantages too. The failure of military methods to solve the problems of interplanetary contact is depicted.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index