Arlecchino Cinema > 21:30


Byron Haskin


Saturday 29/06/2019


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

For an effective surprise attack, you have to know your enemy. So before the invasion, Earth was observed for a long time. Just after the opening credits we see Earth suspended in the cosmos as if in the viewfinder of a Martian telescope. Even though it fleetingly shows us the face of the alien, The War of the Worlds emphasises the strategic importance of vision (as is noted, war involves logistics of perception). The small extraterrestrial spaceships resemble metallic eyes with thin green irises and a tentacle-like extremity that not only can see, but can also film and project. From the aliens’ point of view, earthlings are oblong, deformed beings, a kind of nightmarish creature.
This is one of the rare 1950s pictures that, at moments, offers us the extraterrestrial’s point of view, making us see ourselves as monstrous beings. In addition, it is one of the few movies depicting a mass invasion (at that time, invaders were more often portrayed as a scant group sent off to patrol an area). Earthlings respond in unison, despite continuous failures and momentarily caving in to panic. The character of the priest, who in H.G. Wells’ novel raves on about the apocalypse and ultimately makes a fool out of himself, gets burned. At any rate, God is with us, as in all science-fiction of the period (sometimes in extravagant forms such as the radio announcement in Red Planet Mars).
One of the most spectacular sci-fi films of all time, The War of the Worlds was the first act of a flourishing partnership between George Pal and Byron Haskin. Much of its success was due to Gordon Jennings’ lavish special effects, for which he won an Oscar.

Andrea Meneghelli

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1898) di H.G. Wells. Scen.: Barré Lyndon. F.: George Barnes. M.: Everett Douglas. Scgf.: Hal Pereira, Albert Nozaki. Mus.: Leith Stevens. Int. Gene Barry (dottor Clayton Forrester), Ann Robinson (Sylvia Van Buren), Les Tremayne (generale Mann), Robert Cornthwaite (dottor Pryor), Sandro Giglio (dottor Bilderbeck), Lewis Martin (pastore Matthew Collins), Houseley Stevenson Jr. (aiutante del generale Mann), William Phipps (Wash Perry), Vernon Rich (colonnello Ralph Heffner), Jack Kruschen (Salvatore). Prod.: George Pal per Paramount Pictures Corp.. DCP. D.: 85’. Col.