Tuesday, February 11, 2014

War of the Worlds

On the evening of October, 30th 1938, a country frazzled by economic depression, impending war in Europe, and a series of national catastrophes was primed to be exploited and terrified by Orson Welles, the boy wonder who had already conquered the Broadway stage, along with the rest of his CBS Mercury Theater radio crew, through a surreal, pulse pounding broadcast of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. This documentary essay crafted for the American Experience series is a succinct, informative, and stirring account of both the fearful climate at the time of the infamous Panic Broadcast, as it soon became known, and a fascinating look into Welles' creative process and his responses during the fallout. The only component of the film that doesn't quite come off, though it must have seemed like a good idea, are the recreations of first person reactions to the transmission.