War of the Worlds added to the National Film Registry
George Pal’s 1953 adaptation of War of the Worlds has been added to the National Film Registry in America.
The film is the amongst 25 films named by Congress, for 2011, which are to be added to the National Film Registry. The registry comprises of films that are deemed worthy of preservation because of their significance to American’s culture; more films are added each year. There are currently nearly 600 films in the National Film Registry with other sci-fi fare including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
George Pal’s adaptation of War of the Worlds is considered a classic and one of the more notable Hollywood films of the 1950s. It’s model work, which included the impressive Martian machines, was widely praised at the time and still holds up against modern films today although at times, admittedly, the wires holding the machines up are visible but that’s part of its charm.
The film taps into the Cold War paranoia of the 1950s, as so many other films of the time did, with the Martians so obviously representing the fear/threat of a Soviet invasion. The film starred Ann Robinson and Gene Barry and while is significantly differed from H.G Well’s novel it is still highly regarded by fans of the book. Pal went on to adapt another Wells’ novel for cinema; The Time Machine which was also well received and was more faithful to the source material.
In 1988 a television sequel to Pal’s 1953 film was produced, also titled War of the Worlds and sometimes referred to as The Second Invasion. The television series picked up the story of the alien invasion, no longer referred to as Martians, in late 1980s America. The television series retcons the end of the film by revealing the aliens didn’t die but went into hibernation but are inadvertently revived by terrorists and once awaken plot to overthrow humanity and rule the Earth.
Ann Robinson reprised her role of Sylvia Van Buren for three episodes in the first season of the television series. The series starred Jared Martin and Lynda Mason Green for both seasons with Phillip Akin and Richard Chaves co-starring in the first series and Adrian Paul in the second series. It was axed at the end of its second season because an unsuccessful revamp, which re-wrote most of the continuity established during the first season, resulted in a big decline in ratings.
The War of the Worlds television series is little remembered and was even denied to have existed for a time. However, it was recently been released on DVD and has also been repeated, in full, in the UK on the digital channel Horror.