Guardian unlimited: Starring Tom Cruise, Spielberg's version of the War of the Worlds is out this week. This article that addresses both the perennial and contemporary themes touched upon by Well’s tale of alien invasion:
"Young, sappy cultures devise myths about creation. Cosmos… We are too far from those fresh origins to take such -stories seriously: our urgent concern is to understand how the world will end…Go to article
In 1898, society prepared to confront a fin-de-siècle that seemed likely, as a witty nihilist puts it in a play by Oscar Wilde, to be the fin du monde. Man had recently killed off God; having destroyed its creator, could our species expect to survive much longer? Anticipating that terminus, HG Wells wrote an apocalyptic romance about it, The War of the Worlds…
Our frail blue planet is overrun by mechanised conquerors from a world which is red, bellicose, unmerciful. Wells considered this outcome to be just and logical. European empires, enslaving or exterminating new worlds elsewhere on our globe, had been equally remorseless. His novel reminded Europeans that their tenure of power was insecure."