The Fear in War of the Worlds Movie
The Fear in Movies
War of the Worlds is a 2005 science fiction disaster film directed by Steven Spielberg, an adaptation of H.G Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds. The film is about a divorced father named Raymond with little fatherhood skills and works as a crane operator on the docks of New Jersey. On a weekend, Ray’s ex-wife drops off his teenage son Robbie and 10 year old daughter Rachael for a visit, then a series of abnormal lightning bolts attack the town. As the lightning bolts hit the ground, they buried small capsules on the ground that happened to be Tripods that killed and destroyed everything in its path. Not only do the main characters experience aliens trying to take over the world, but also staying together as a family and not let anything stop them from getting to their destination. Much of the film referenced catastrophic events that happened previously in our real world. For example, those events include natural disasters, the September 11 attacks in New York City, and the sinking of the Titanic. Those events, among others, led to permanent societal fears that viewers experience when watching any horror or science fiction film.
As I was watching the film, I took into consideration the intense scenes that involved destruction and the fight for survival. The destruction scenes themselves were over-the-top, they seemed so real and I felt like I was actually there looking at all of the buildings crumble. However, that may not be the case for a number of people who experienced a strong earthquake in the past. As they watch those scenes, their brains may attack them with thoughts like “What if another earthquake happens” or “I hope I never get to experience that ever again.” It is a fear that they developed after they experienced a huge earthquake. Also, we all have this fear of fighting for survival. We all wonder what would we do, if let’s say, we have the last working car in town when everybody relies on walking. It would be very chaotic, we would have to be extra careful and watch out for those people who are willing to kill for a car. Ray experienced the same exact problem on the film, but unfortunately, he got the car taken away from him at gunpoint. He had a small gun, but it wasn’t enough to scare all of the people away, especially when some of them carry more powerful weapons such as shotguns.
During the era the film was made, the attacks on September 11, 2001 had occurred just four years ago. As a result, director Steven Spielberg included a lot of references to the tragic attacks. One reference the director included was when Ray got home completely covered in people’s ashes. Those ashes represent the people who came out of the World Trade Center injured, scared, and covered in ashes that the towers left behind. I cannot imagine the fear people felt when they saw that particular scene. Another reference to 9/11 was the airplane that crashed right next to his ex-wife’s house. On that scene, the images we saw were heart breaking and devastating because we came to think of the lives that were lost when the planes crashed into the towers. In our world, the planes were hijacked by terrorists, but in the movie, there might have been cases that the plane must’ve been hit by a laser of one of the Tripods. Either way, the results of both worlds ended up being very similar. Finally, the third reference to 9/11 that I saw on the film was the wall that was covered with posters of missing people. We can all relate to that scene because we all saw a huge number of reports indicating the missing people when the towers collapsed. We come to think of our friends and family members because it is a fear that we fear the most, which is losing the people we love and care for. Although there were more scenes referencing September 11, these were the ones that I felt were the most frightening.
War of the Worlds not only recalls images from the terrorist attacks, but also images from when the Titanic sank in 1912. In the film, Ray and his children got onboard a small ferryboat to escape the city. However, it was really crowded to the point where there were people who were hanging from the back part of the boat. As the boat sailed away from the dock, there was a Tripod underwater waiting to hunt more humans. Moments later, the Tripods rose from the ocean, tilting the boat to its side causing it to sink. Hundreds of people were struggling to swim away from the aliens as they captured people. Seeing the boat sink and people falling into the ocean made me think of the Titanic disaster, an event that took the lives of fifteen thousand people. As a result, some people in general became really afraid of going on a cruise, because they won’t stop thinking about Titanic. It’s amazing how such events that happened one hundred years ago still affects society in many ways. It’s hard to forget, especially when films reenact those unfortunate events.
In conclusion, we currently live in a world full of new fears that we didn’t have before these events happened. Although movies are meant to be a form of entertainment, we can’t forget the fact that there are a lot of movies that help us remember those fears. Steven Spielberg’s film War of the Worlds had many references to real world tragedies that reflected societal fears and anxieties. As the movie was playing, I began to feel the fears that people went through because of all of the tragedies that has taken place over the course of history. From natural disasters, to ships sinking, all the way to the attacks on September 11, has had an effect on how people see science fiction and horror films, because they think back to those days when they see a disturbing scene.
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