According to the screenwriter for the BBC’s new version of H.G. Wells classic novel, “The War of the Worlds,” the three-part series will give a whole new woke perspective that trashes religion, the idea of nationalism, and contains modern climate-change rhetoric as well as creating a female lead for what was a peripheral character in the original novel.
As The Sun reports, “Poldark” star Eleanor Tomlinson, playing Amy, not only gets a much-inflated part but also gets to read the classic introduction that was originally written for one of the two main male characters. That introduction has been read in different versions of the novel by three protean actors: Orson Welles, Richard Burton and Morgan Freeman.
Tomlinson boasted, “It’s time for a woman to do it. I mean, come on!”
Peter Harness, the writer who adapted the new three-part series, said the environmental damage inflicted by Martians in the novel was exaggerated in the new version and had an modern “resonances.” He added, “It was the zenith of the British Empire but also where the cracks start to show — now here we are 120 years later still trying to define what it means to be British. And religion is pretty roundly rubbished. Religion and militarism and these notions of nationhood in Wells’s book and in this adaptation, they just wither in the face of these aliens.”
Slashfilm, reviewing the series, noted approvingly:
… it also heavily deviates from the source material. The War of the Worlds uses flash-forwards to explore the time after the so-called “war,” a time where the survivors turn to religion for a solution to their new toxic Earth where nothing ever grows and red weed covers the world, and the elders don’t listen to rational solutions to their problems. While the cast in general does a fine job with their roles, the show is definitely more interested in Tomlinson’s Amy, who becomes the real protagonist of the story and is quick to offer explanations and find ways to survive.
In the original novel, the classic introduction stated:
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same.
No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
“The War of the Worlds” has dramatically affected the world in numerous ways; the father of modern rocketry, Robert Goddard, spent two years bedridden during high school, during which he read the novel and was inspired to invent rockets. He became the first person to develop a rocket motor using liquid fuels in 1926. He also “patented the first practical automatic steering apparatus for rockets, developed step rockets designed to gain great altitudes and other components for an engine designed for space exploration,” as nationalaviation.org has noted.
In 1938, Orson Welles narrated a famous radio broadcast of the novel which elicited some panic among listeners who did not know it was a work of fiction. The New York Times reported:
A wave of mass hysteria seized thousands of radio listeners between 8:15 and 9:30 o’clock last night when a broadcast of a dramatization of H. G. Wells’s fantasy, “The War of the Worlds,” led thousands to believe that an interplanetary conflict had started with invading Martians spreading wide death and destruction in New Jersey and New York. The broadcast, which disrupted households, interrupted religious services, created traffic jams and clogged communications systems, was made by Orson Welles, who as the radio character, “The Shadow,” used to give “the creeps” to countless child listeners. This time at least a score of adults required medical treatment for shock and hysteria.
Hearst-owned papers called on broadcasters to police themselves because the government might get involved; Iowa Senator Clyde L. Herring proposed a bill forcing all programming to be reviewed by the FCC prior to broadcast. FCC Chairman Frank R. McNinch received twelve formal protests against the radio program the day after it aired.