Products of their Time

The first film version of War of the Worlds is starkly different from the book by H.G. Wells. While the book was published in 1898, the first film was released in 1953. The book was published before the First World War even began; there was no threat to England’s power at the time. After the Second World War, the entire world became aware of the power other countries possessed, and England was no longer the leading world power. People of the time the novel was published had no fear of outside forces, which made it easier for the Martians to quickly takeover without military involvement. The 1953 film focused heavily on the army taking charge of the situation quickly, because the events of World War II were still fresh in many people’s minds, and people weren’t so keen to unknown canisters falling from the sky.

The novel only seemed to worry about England’s problems, because that was the only place the Martians had invaded. In the 1953 film, the Martians had invaded major cities across the entire world; the invasion was not centralized to one location. This could go back to England being a world power at the time of the novel, and the people seeing themselves as superior, as if to say “Yes, we’re the most powerful force on Earth. Of course the Martians would attack here first to weaken us, and then move onto taking over the rest of the world.” The film portrayed the invasion as a global problem. Countries were helping each other, and that is exactly what happened in World War II; countries that used to be enemies came together to fight for a common good. If aliens invaded, it wouldn’t be just the problem of the country they landed in, but the whole world’s problem.

The novel was a product of its time in pre-twentieth century England, just as the film was a product of its time in post-war United States. They both show the ideologies of their time, and how people’s views have changed. Would enemy countries today be able to come together for the sake of peace, or would it be everyone for themselves?

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