War of the Worlds is an artistic creation that has successfully impacted readers, listeners and viewers across three major media and over the course of over a century. Herbert George Wells published his story of an alien invasion in 1898, in two parts. Both parts, The Coming of the Martians and The Earth under the Martians are written in the first person narrative, a detail that was to enhance its impact quite effectively when it was later adapted into a radio play.
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In late October 1938, at around the time of Halloween in America, a producer and director of the Mercury Theatre on Air decided to take Well’s story and adapt it into a creatively arranged radio play that would include constant “interruptions” of bulletins announcing an ongoing alien invasion. That man was Orson Welles, and though the play was preceded by an announcement that a play was about to be aired, listeners soon forgot that they were listening to a radio drama as people heard the bulletins and believed that they were under the Martian attack! Widespread panic ensued and even though calm was restored, that broadcast has remained among the most popular radio broadcasts ever (Frater, 2007).
Having gained an immense popularity, the 1953 film adaptation directed by Byron Haskin was received favourably. Beginning with a brief tour of our solar system, the narrator describes the Martian civilisation as one on the verge of extinction, and that a nearby planet the Earth offers a vulnerable and fertile colony. Even as they approach and land on the Earth, the primary emotion of humans is curiosity rather than self-preservation, and the Martian landing vessel remains undisturbed by nearby residents. Only when a hatch opens, three residents, posted as sentries, approach it and are instantly vaporised, the nearby town of Linda Rosa also plunged into darkness, the realisation begins to dawn that these are violent interlopers.
Other craft soon lands and despite an all-out offensive that even features atomic bombs, the aliens appear invincible with their much superior heat rays and force fields.
But apparently, the answer to the invasion was not to counter their technology with ours, because all along the Martian blood was anaemic, defenceless against Earthly viruses and bacteria, they began to die as soon as had breathed the Earth air.