[FoRK] War of the Worlds

Gordon Mohr < gojomofork at xavvy.com > on > Wed Apr 26 10:01:54 PDT 2006

I agree, I really enjoyed WotW, for its very consciously 
"different" average-guy view of an invasion/conflict.

Did you notice that every scene was essentially from Cruise's 
character's viewpoint -- never cutting away to other action that 
he's not directly experiencing? Except for the opening and closing 
voiceovers, we only see and know what he sees. Information about 
what's going on is scarce and contradictory.

That required an actor/character who the audience can stand to 
watch for 2 hours straight -- making the choice to portray hi 
character as a bit of a jerk early on especially risky. Still, it 

Another scene that rang true to me was when a military convoy 
passed the family, professionally indifferent to their plight, 
following some orders other than 'render aid to refugees'. (Were 
they advancing? Retreating? I don't think we can know.)

The gun-in-the-crowd scene *didn't* ring true to me. It did make a 
point about both the power and danger of guns when usual social 
norms have collapsed and traditional authorities are gone -- but 
there's no chance that in a giant crowd of refugees, only one 
person is going to have a gun. Whatever one's opinion on gun 
ownership, America is up to its neck in private guns, and even 
heirloom rifles in attics and basements would have come out in 
force by that point in the action.

- Gordon

Corinna wrote:
> 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...
> -Corinna
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