|The Martian machines and their force fields.|
|Gene Barry as Forrester.|
The meteor, of course, turns out be one of many Martian spacecrafts sent as part of an epic invasion. In no time at all, cities like Paris are crumbling to the ground as the Earth's weapons prove useless against the invaders' most advanced technology. Can the Earth be saved?
The combat scenes remain impressive today with the Martians' triangular black-and-green war machines flitting over the battleground as they fire their incinerating death rays. Not surprisingly, these striking scenes earned The War of the Worlds an Oscar for Best Special Effects. It was nominated for Best Film Editing and Best Sound--and should have won the latter. It did win an award for sound from the Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA.
|The uncredited SFX team used no computer digital technology!|
|A Martian hand on Robinson.|
The other two scenes of note are less widely praised, but equally impressive. The first occurs when, as a last resort, the U.S. military uses an atomic bomb to stop the Martians...only to watch in futility as an alien craft emerges from a cloud of debris ("Guns, tanks, bombs--they're like toys against them," says a general). The final scene I'll mention occurs near the climax when Forrester, who has been separated from Sylvia, finds her in a church as Los Angeles faces imminent destruction. With explosions lighting up the church's stained glass windows, a loud crashing sound causes everyone in the church to instinctively drop to the ground--except for Forester and Sylvia who remain standing in their embrace.
Playwright Barré Lyndon, who penned the screenplay, incorporates strong religious themes throughout the film. Examples include the scenes with the priest and in the church, the pending Armageddon, and even the narration that describes how the Martians were finally defeated.
|Michael Rennie as the good alien Klaatu.|
By the way, Ann Robinson reprised her role as Sylvia 36 years later in three episodes of the funky syndicated TV series War of the Worlds.