War Of The Worlds: Fact verses Fiction. War Of The Worlds: Fact verses FictionBy Bill KnellA new Alien invasion is coming courtesy of a legitimate sci-fi master. Steven Spielberg is about to unleash an Alien assault on Earth in his latest film, “War of the Worlds.” Because Spielberg is not known for sequels or remakes, this film is going to be very unique and may just set the stage for a whole new generation of sci-fi entertainment. The first thing I like about it is that it takes the moviegoer inside the story. This is a Spielberg trademark.
When the shark attacked in Jaws, we were on the boat. While E.T. stayed at Elliot’s house, we were there too. When the Aliens moved their ship above Roy Neary’s electric truck and gave him that famous sunburn in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, we were in the truck as well. However, this film takes things a step further. War of the Worlds takes place in our world, not some unfamiliar past or vague future. The film makes you feel like a contestant on Survivor.
The television reality show feel of this film is what makes it something new. In this case, new is good, very good! The Sci-Fi film genre has been languishing over the past few years from an overdose of special effects combined with mediocre story lines that have left moviegoers uninspired. ‘War of the Worlds’ has the same potential to inject some life into sci-fi entertainment that ‘The Matrix’ did when the first installment hit the screens a few years ago.
There is little doubt that this movie will generate some major box office numbers, however, what effect will it have on the way the public views the top of Aliens? We celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the famous Orson Welles 1938 dramatized radio broadcast of ‘War of the Worlds’ in 1988. A number of UFO conferences were held throughout the world that year to recognize the anniversary. Many in the UFO research community felt and still feel this was a mistake. Their concern, and it’s a legitimate one, is that the line between UFO fact and fantasy becomes blurred anytime the entertainment world covers a paranormal topic. They feel such ventures should be ignored or even discouraged. I disagree.
When ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ appeared on movie screens in the late 1970s, much of the film was based on real events. Noted UFO researcher, scientist and Project Bluebook detractor, Dr. J.Allen Hynek, was a consultant to the project. That Steven Spielberg film had a very positive effect on UFO research. People who had simply dismissed UFOs out of hand took the time to take a second look. Many who had believed the never-ending stream of negative UFO propaganda from a majority of the scientific community were now willing to consider the possibility that Aliens may be visiting our Earth.
Most objective researchers involved with studying UFOs have no problem with fictional entertainment projects based on information they present as fact. It’s when Hollywood takes a factual UFO case or specific subject within the field and distorts the truth that we get upset.
When ‘Intruders’ became a TV mini-series split into three episodes in 1992, most UFO researchers were extremely optimistic about the project. Based on the non-fiction book by UFO Abductions researcher and noted Artist, Budd Hopkins, the mini-series had a deep well from which to draw from when it came to fascinating material. Unfortunately, the film turned out to be a drab melodrama that largely mocked the UFO Abductions Investigator character based on Budd and tried to create some sort of conspiratorial theme that just didn’t exist in the book.
One can understand the treatment that ‘Intruders’ received because it was directed by Dan Curtis. Famous for his ‘Dark Shadows’ vampire soap opera of the 1960s and 1970s, Curtis is a legitimate force to be reckoned with when it comes to covering horror and fantasy on film. Sadly, he lacked the Spielberg touch of being able to marry fact and fiction without distorting most of the fact. It was when Spielberg dropped the ball with a UFO fact-based series that I got upset.
I have always believed that real facts about UFOs, the paranormal and the unexplained are far more interesting then any fictional stories I have ever come across. That’s exactly why Hollywood has borrowed from actual events involving these topics to create some of the most exciting and profitable fictional film and television projects of all time. It’s when filmmakers try to create a hybrid of reality mixed with fantasy and sell it as fact that things go bad and the public is misled.
Steven Spielberg was the executive producer of the 2002 mini-series entitled ‘Taken.’ The ten-episode project was based on the fascinating theme of multi-generational UFO abductions and possible government involvement or intervention with them. The problem I have with this series is that it over-stepped and blurred the line between fact and fiction. The promotions for the series and the episodes themselves left viewers with the impression that what was being presented as factual in nature. In reality, the series was based more on the various theories surrounding the subject of UFO Abduction and the government cover-up of that activity than the facts themselves.
According to the ratings, ‘Taken’ was not the success that I believe those who created it had hoped for. Given the fact that a fascinating subject was distorted and left to drown in a sea of pessimistic drama, that is no wonder. It’s one thing to take amazing facts and build a fascinating story around them, but quite another to alter those facts to create something that doesn’t even begin to resemble the truth and sell it as fact.
‘War of the Worlds’ keeps it simple. The film takes the concept of Aliens visiting the Earth and examines what would happen if they have hostile intentions and decide to take the Conquistador approach. It creates an all-out invasion scenario similar to the theme that ‘Independence Day’ was based on. As far as truth goes, I’m afraid that any real hostile Aliens from an advanced civilization that might desire to control our world would gain the upper hand through subtle and far more sinister processes unimaginable to us.
I recommend ‘War of the Worlds.’ As sci-fi entertainment, it’s a stand-out film that will take you away from drab reality for a few hours and propel you into an exciting story you will want to experience more then once. As a sci-fi film based on the subject of Aliens, it does no harm to the factual study of Aliens and reminds us all that we are not alone.
Article by Bill Knell. A native New Yorker now living in Arizona, Bill Knell is a forty-something guy with a wealth of knowledge and experience. He’s written hundreds of articles offer advice on a wide variety of subjects.