[FoRK] War of the Worlds

Corinna < corinna.schultz at gmail.com > on > Wed Apr 26 07:11:09 PDT 2006

I saw the Tom Cruise version last night (NetFlix is great!). I thought I 
would hate it (I saw it because my husband thought he would love it).  I 
ended up liking it.

I don't know what the filmmakers (or Wells) intended. The original 50's 
movie seemed to emphasize the herioc nature of people, the insistence of 
fighting back, even when it's futile. This movie struck me more as a 
post-modern kind of comment on how small humans really are.  The movie 
seemed to be about survival and perhaps the tension between survival and 
retaining one's humanity.  The quotes from the book at the beginning and end 
seemed chosen to emphasize the non-heroic nature of people (they emphasize 
evolution, survival, and adaptation). The ending shot, with Cruise's 
character just standing in the street, all dirty and dusty from his ordeal, 
alienated from the nice, clean, comfortable family seemed to summarize the 
ambiguity of his situation: he survived, but his life still sucks. Nothing's 
changed, unless, perhaps, for the fact that he and his son have respect for 
each other.

A few of the scenes which support this interpretation, I think, include the 
scene with the car and the gun (contrasting the crowd's actions with the 
main characters'). Cruise's character's decision to kill the guy that was 
endangering them. That guy's mad desire to fight back with a shotgun 
(arguably, he chose humanity instead of survival). The son's desire to join 
the military and fight back. Cruise's character's insistence on protecting 
his daughter from seeing things...

In this light, a lot of the criticisms I read on IMDB actually don't hold 
water. The senslessnes of it all -- why are these aliens trying to kill us? 
why did they do it this way? why X, why Z, etc --  I think is part of the 
point. Life doesn't have to make sense, and we try to get along as best as 
we can. We survive, and try to make something of ourselves, but where is the 
meaning of it all? We try to help others as we can, but we're just as 
helpless as they are in most cases.

Personally, I think we make our own meaning. Externally-based meaning (such 
as what religion provides) is a chimera, and fails in the face of the 
senselessness of life...


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