07 October 2014

Video of the day -- The Great Martian War 1913-1917

What if World War I had been fought not between human nations, but against invading Martians as imagined by HG Wells in War of the Worlds?  That's the premise of a 2013 "documentary" made by History.co.uk (apparently similar to our History Channel) on the hundredth "anniversary" of the "invasion".  The full film doesn't seem to be available anywhere, but the video above, found via Mendip, will give you a good sense of its look and feel.  A little more info is here and here.  I've sometimes lamented the lack of originality of mainstream current SF/fantasy movies, with their endless tired sequels and remakes and "reboots" and comic-book superheroes, but it looks like in this case the filmmakers came up with something genuinely fresh and different, and did it by going to real literature for inspiration.


Anonymous Zosimus the Heathen said...

Well the little snippet of that that you posted looked interesting; it was quite impressive how they managed to integrate the Martian war machines into what I assume was genuine WWI footage. (Interesting too how the humans seemed able to defeat the Martians through military means, rather than having to wait for the cold virus to do the job for them, as was the case in the original War of the Worlds movies (and, I'm guessing, the HG Wells work as well.)

Funny you should post this, as I was just recently reminiscing about another good work of science fiction that was apparently inspired by War of the Worlds: John Christopher's Tripods trilogy. I remember reading it when I was only eleven, and being genuinely disappointed when I finished the last novel - it was that good a story.

07 October, 2014 05:49  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Zosimus: From what little I can glean, the war in this story ends with humans defeating the Martians through deliberate use of germs -- biological warfare -- so it's a bit of a mix. In the Wells novel (far superior to the 1953 movie, which bears little resemblance to it), human military weapons did score a few scattered hits on the invading Martians, though their technological superiority carried the day (until the germs hit them). Remember, we're on the brink of interplanetary travel ourselves right now and could probably "invade" Mars if the world were willing to spend enough money on it, so Martian invaders wouldn't necessarily be invincibly technologically superior to humans, even humans of 1913.

I loved the Tripods trilogy when I read it years ago, but I don't think it was inspired by War of the Worlds -- they have very little in common except for three-legged alien machines.

The overall movie seems well thought out, including some discussion of the efforts in the century since the Martians' defeat, to decipher the Martian written language so as to be able to read Martian documents that were found in their ships -- in a realistic scenario this would obviously be a high priority, to help assess the likelihood of future threats from Mars itself.

I really hope this is available on DVD somewhere. So far I'm coming up empty, though.

07 October, 2014 06:23  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

Infidel, they actually did run the entire film on BBC America a couple months ago. I have to say I found the whole film fascinating, especially the weaving together of fact (WWI) and fiction (THE WAR OF THE WORLDS).

TWOTW remains one of my favorite books--there was even a comic book series years ago showing Sherlock Holmes investigating the theft of a Martian corpse and Martian technology in the years after the war.

Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a DVD release or even OnDemand. But who knows--it might be released on DVD in the near future.

07 October, 2014 06:49  
Blogger Ahab said...

Loved it. The animated Martian tripods fit seamlessly into the WWI footage.

07 October, 2014 07:26  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: Glad to find another fan of the novel! And I'm going to keep looking for the DVD of this from history.co.uk if there ever is one. It looks like a must-have.

Ahab: Yes, that must be how they did it. never even occurred to me to wonder, while I was watching.

07 October, 2014 17:53  
Blogger Tommykey said...

Watching the 1953 movie again as an adult, I noticed that it is a very Christian themed movie.

OMG, the Martians killed a well meaning priest!

When someone says that it will take the Martians 6 days to destroy the Earth, another person says "The same number of days it took to create it."

The bacteria that end up killing the Martians are described as being put there by God in his infinite wisdom.

There are probably other examples that I can't think of at the moment.

08 October, 2014 09:50  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

TommyKey: That's true, perhaps reflecting the attitudes of the 1950s. Such annoyances are quite absent from Wells's novel. They seem very naïve now, of course -- today someone would obviously snark that "God in his infinite wisdom" must have created the Martians too.

10 October, 2014 02:49  

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