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War of the Worlds: Welles & Wells

  • USA
  • 2012
  • 120 mins
  • 16mm
  • English / French
Bilingual Lecture and Screening Hosted by Philippe Spurrell (C/FS)
Presented by Le Cinéclub: The Film Society

We take you back 75 years to October 30, 1938 — a night that panicked millions who were listening to Orson Welles’ famous live broadcast of H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic. With the dark cloud of war hanging over Europe, many here were already anticipating a hostile invasion by “outsiders”. At the time, radio was a powerful popular medium and Welles’ Mercury Players so realistically recreated, through voice and sound effects, an alien invasion for the spellbound audience huddled around their living room radios. It’s no wonder the result was mass hysteria with screams of, “The Martians are here!”

For your otherworldly pleasure, we present a very rare print of THE NIGHT THAT PANICKED AMERICA (1975), a gripping, well-made TV movie with impressive period detail and a superb cast. Cinematographer Jules Brenner (SALEM’S LOT, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) effectively captures a shadowy sense of dread. With historical accuracy, director Joseph Sargent (THE INVADERS TV series) unravels in fast-paced real time the events surrounding that notorious Halloween broadcast, in a way that will have you in a state of panic.

PLUS: Be one of the lucky few to see an impossible-to-find re-edited, split-screen condensed version of George Pal’s 1953 WAR OF THE WORLDS that was custom-created for an installation at Montreal’s Expo 67. Not seen anywhere for decades, it is an absolute must-see from the C/FS vaults! Also hear parts of the original 1938 broadcast piped through a vintage 1930s radio!

— Philippe Spurrell