No one would have believed in the middle of the 20th Century that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than Man's...
October 30, 2011 4:20 PM   Subscribe

20 years later Pal also worked on a TV series.
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on October 30, 2011

Oh, for crying out loud! You could have said, "Vincent di Fate talks about WOTW" and saved me the trouble of thinking! Click!
posted by SPrintF at 5:01 PM on October 30, 2011

And Matt Jeffries (designer of the starship Enterprise) took his design for the plastic model Galactic Cruiser Leif Ericson, and made it the Hyperspace Carrier Pegasus for the proposed George Pal War of the Worlds TV show.
posted by Nyrath at 5:04 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I remember watching the '53 movie as a child, and it scared the crap out of me then. I watched it again recently with Young'n'StillGood, and she was pretty miffed about the "utter uselessness" of the leading lady's role.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:24 PM on October 30, 2011

For a more classic take I'm a big fan of the D'Israeli/Ian Edginton comicbook version, which also has some wacky sequels.
posted by Artw at 5:47 PM on October 30, 2011

The key indicator of quality in any adaptation of course being how well they do this bit.

(It's handled none to shabily in the Pal version of course, and with one of the best sound effects of all time)
posted by Artw at 5:59 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've always liked Pal's version although not as much as his Time Machine. Really hated Spielberg's recent version and for that matter, the recent Time Machine remake. For some reason, Wells' book seem very difficult to translate into movies which always baffles me since they seem so cinematic when you read them.
posted by octothorpe at 6:14 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

They broke the moon!
posted by Artw at 6:19 PM on October 30, 2011

But yes, the recent Time Machine movie is utter garbage. The Spielberg WotW is a bit of a mix for me - it has some moments that were pretty great, like the 9/11 ray and the sound design of the night sheltering in the house, some odd stuff that made little sense (the underground/lightning business) and way, way too much mawkish stuff about kids. It probably would have reedemed itself for me if when the idiot teenager ran off over the hill to get himself killed he actually got killed, instead of turning up unscathed basically because he's a kid in a Spielberg movies and no other reason. Also Tom Cruise pretending to be human is always creepy.
posted by Artw at 6:27 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I love this movie - and it' this and Them that scared the bejjbusses out of me when I was a tyke. I actually liked the tripods in Spielberg's travesty of a version - though on reflection there were OK bits in that. The burning train, the-under-lake-tripod. The martian vehicles in the Pan version reminded me of 50's American auto design.
posted by the noob at 6:27 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I quite like the Kevin O'Neill version of the martian war machines.
posted by Artw at 6:31 PM on October 30, 2011

More Kevin O'Neill mars stuff
posted by Artw at 6:37 PM on October 30, 2011

"as early as 1930 the studio had felt free to offer it to the great Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein" - what a great alternate history of sf idea!
posted by doctornemo at 7:12 PM on October 30, 2011

...the Martian war machines, so integral to Wells’ story, rather than being the mechanical walking tripods of the novel, would resemble instead the flying discs that were being reported all across the globe.

I'm glad to read this; I'm afraid to say that I always thought that the legs were left off to avoid expensive animation.

I like Roger Dean's version of the tripods.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 8:01 PM on October 30, 2011

Judging from the hundreds of book covers and illustrations in Dr. Zeus' War of the Worlds Project's Book Cover Collection, Interior Illustrations, Design, Graphical Elements, and Other Images, no other science fiction scenario has captured our imaginations as much over the last 113 years.
posted by cenoxo at 9:53 PM on October 30, 2011

.... I actually kind of liked the recent-ish Time Machine. A lousy adaptation, but a fairly fun film up until the last five or ten minutes. "Umm, we don't really know where we were going with this, so, look, here's some explosions -- ! Thanks for coming!"
posted by webmutant at 10:02 PM on October 30, 2011

To complete Artw's FPP title, has there ever been a better opening paragraph than this?
"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century [*] that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment."
*Number your century here, and watch the skies.
posted by cenoxo at 10:11 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

To complete Artw's FPP title, has there ever been a better opening paragraph than this?

I actually feel that the more succinct version of that in Jeff Wayne's musical version of WOTW is even better.
posted by evilangela at 8:31 AM on October 31, 2011

I enjoy Jeff Wayne's way-too-underlooked WOW version a lot ... great production.

Much as I appreciate Pal's films, I've come to appreciate the 2002 Time Machine more with each watching. They took a lot of care to make it emotionally resonant; in 'the future' I feel it wins out over Pal (no one could replace what Alan Young adds).

While on the subject: if you really like Time Machine, I strongly recommend Stephen Baxter's Time Ships (half-Wells, half Ringworld).
posted by Twang at 2:28 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I grew up with that thing EVERYWHERE, so it's hard to imagine it being underlooked. Just taking a rest, maybe.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on October 31, 2011

I have no complaints about this thread, not even about the false equivalency.
posted by Artw at 2:31 PM on October 31, 2011

Hmm, ignore the last, overflow from a different thread.
posted by Artw at 2:33 PM on October 31, 2011

I grew up with that thing EVERYWHERE

Really? ... maybe it's because I was living in the rural midwest at the time, and it took several years to get to me - I dug it a lot and hadn't heard of it in the mainstream or slightly counter- media I had access to. One of the most coherent and lasting experiences to come out of the whole prog scene.
posted by Twang at 8:59 PM on October 31, 2011

I saw the Pal version as Comic Book Youth and instantly hated it. Tripods, as I saw it, were the whole point of War of the Worlds. It's like a King Kong movie where King Kong is inexplicably a bird or something.

And it isn't as if Pal handled the rest of the book well enough to forgive him the tripod thing. There is too much low-level fighting back and ending with the church is, as the Tor article points out, tacky and dumb at best, cynical pandering at worst. Save that atmosphere-undermining nonsense for your Cosmic Trilogy adaptation, man.

Pal's War of the Worlds may be a great science-fiction movie, but is a terrible adaptation of the aspects of the novel that resonate with me. Especially the tripods.
posted by No-sword at 2:38 AM on November 1, 2011

I must say, I think the book was far better then the American radio play. I can't remember any specific examples now, but I don't think the military shot any down, where in the radio play some ships killed at least one before being driven off, which lowers it from "There are scary things out there that we can't stop" to "There are scary things out there our military isn't big enough to stop"
posted by Canageek at 3:09 PM on November 2, 2011

Orson Wells meets HG Wells.
posted by Artw at 9:47 AM on November 3, 2011

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