The material for the film was found in 2006 in film canisters,
which had remained unopened for 41 years.
Additional material of the Earth/Mars War was provided
from recently declassified combat, newspapers and newsreels.
The producers have arranged with the U.S. Department
Of Defense and British Ministry Of Defense to release information
of the Earth/mars War to the public. Every scene in this record is
authentic, photographed during the Earth/Mars War c1900. For
purposes of continuity, authentic footage of the Martian Invasion
is mixed with reenactments to provide a complete portrait of the
events of the War of the Worlds.”
So goes the opening crawl of this faux documentary. The best comparison I can offer to War of The Worlds: The True Story is SyFy channel’s Paranormal Witness docudrama. They interview the actual witnesses to the paranormal events, and then as they recount what led up to said events and explain the events themselves, reenactments of those scenes are played out by actors.
Bertie Wells, “author, journalist, last survivor of the War of the Worlds,” is being interviewed. The interview is taking place on August 4th, 1965. Bertie appears to be in his late 80s, and what he accounts is extraordinary. Martians, in their steam-punk style machines, came to earth in 1900 and attempted to take over. As the crawl indicates actual footage of the machines and the destruction they wrought is “real,” while actors were used to fill in the narrative gaps. All of it being played out in that antiquated sepia toned footage, which I admit works heavily in this “docudrama’s” favor.
The tripod, tentacled war machines are given an eerie countenance within the sepia-toned footage, so is the aliens themselves when they are shown. The carnage weighs heavy at times as a dead horses are seen, a baby is killed when a building topples onto it, a kid is stampeded to death as the masses run hell-bent for the horizon down stairs while the alien death machines come stomping into London, and many sundry fleeing bodies are disintegrated by the war machine’s death rays.
On a basic human level the movie also succeeds as we follow Bertie’s recollections of the alien’s first landing in the country, then onto their mass landings all over, and finally to their eventual methodical march towards London, killing everything in sight and forcing Bertie to lose touch with his wife. His only reason to live now is to find her.
I first was made aware of War of The Worlds: The True Story when a teaser hit the net in June of last year. I didn’t know what to make of it. Is this some kind of fake documentary? What ever it was, it intrigued me on visual merit alone. I think I even found a contact for the movie and sent them a message asking when it was coming out. Suffice to say I kept track of it and when a DVD was finally announced I went after a review copy. Actually, when it was first announced there was mention of a blu-ray as well. But, as of this writing, as far I can tell only a standard DVD is available.
Ever since the 1953 movie adaptation of War Of The Worlds there have been numerous other translations of Wells’ novel, even a 1988 short lived TV series, but of all the ones I have seen the only two—yes, only two—I find worthy of repeated viewings is the ’53 film and this new 2013 docudrama.
As I mentioned above the movie only comes in standard DVD format and can only be ordered off of their website, which can be found right here. The transfer appears to be a 1.77:1 anamorphic one with no subtitles and no other audio other than English 2.1 Dolby Digital Stereo. Extras include the following featurettes:
- ‘SPFX Of War Of The Worlds The True Story’ (3:56): a short collage of photos and behind-the-scenes videos of how the miniatures, stop motion, and actors were composited into the movie.
- ‘The Moviemakers Talk’ (4:53): pretty much what the title suggests. The filmmakers talk about Well’s novel and their movie.
- ‘Chapman University Audience Discussion With Director, Timothy Hines, Prof. Allen Levy, best selling sci-fi fantasy author and father of Steampunk, James P. Blaylock’ (5:55): All three add their brief opinions on how much they liked the movie. Wish this particular featurette had gone a lot longer.
Rounding out the disc is a trailer and a TV Spot for the film.
Note: Director Timothy Hines has recently informed me that a blu-ray will be out in July.