Andrea's ramblings and musings on War of the Worlds (1953):


It's the Little Things that Matter


Right from the very beginning, War of the Worlds demonstrates the U.S. of A's mighty military machine in action - a black and white newsreel-style opening emphasizing America's military superiority.


When the martians land in areas all over the world, it is interesting to note that the military is able to ascertain rather quickly that those aliens "have a plan." There appears to be some systematic war agenda in place. One alien machine would land and then guide one or two others down - joined magnetically, of course - first one machine, then another, and another - until a strategic pattern of defense develops. The military quickly assumes that "they'll probably move at dawn"; as though the alien defense machine is identical in scope to how the most superior military force on the planet would proceed!


This cold war era sci-fi film contains all the elements of the US vs. THEM mentality. The idea of shooting them up with no questions asked; assuming immediately that the aliens are only coming down to destroy the planet; and that there is no way in the world that these alien beings are going to break down the United States technological superiority.


There is one catch, however, the martians are able to shield themselves from harm using an electro-magnetic defense system; a technology that was assumed to shield us all safely from attacks from our cold war era enemies - a technology that never really developed up to the expectations that the film portrays.


The film also suggests this kind of "evacuate from civilization mentality"; that somehow, even despite the fact that the proliferation of aliens have landed in areas all over the world, that evacuating the citizens of the City of Los Angeles was somehow going to save them from harm. The refuge is to 'head for the hills!' (in this case the San Gabriel Mountains). There is this sense that going back to nature, of abandoning the technology emblematic of the city, would provide a safe haven.


This theme of "nature will prevail" is especially evident in the film's final conclusion, when it is determined that all the technological superiority on the planet is no match over faith and mother nature. The aliens are defeated not by machines, but by their own mortal weaknesses. The aliens could not sustain themselves long enough in Earth's atmosphere and manage to catch a bacterial disease that kills them all quickly. Without the aliens alive to control their machines, their mighty technological creations fail miserably.


In essence, you can't beat nature - and, remember, faith, religion, love of family - forget the technology, it's the little things that really matter.