Whether they weren't quite paying attention, tuned in late, or simply misunderstood what they heard, legions of listeners thought an actual invasion was underway. The front-page headline in the October 31, 1938, New York Times told the whole story: "Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact/Many Flee Homes to Escape 'Gas Raid From Mars'/Phone Calls Swamp Police at Broadcast of Wells Fantasy".
© and (P)2006 Radio Spirits, Inc.
Love having someone read me a story. Fires in the hearth, rain on the roof, sunny days and surf. Good friends, good food and J S Bach.
If you are old enough to remember the radio serials, and the shorts at the Saturday Afternoon pictures, and you like classic SciFi, you could enjoy this. Orson Wells no less. Having seen both movies over the years, based on this story, it was good to hear the original radio play that had listeners thinking the Martians had indeed landed (or so the other story goes). Classic or otherwise I suggest spending the few dollars asked rather than use your credit here.It is a good listen for the hour and certainly worth $5.00.
There are books of the same chemical composition as dynamite. The only difference is that a piece of dynamite explodes once, whereas a book explodes a thousand times. ― Yevgeny Zamyatin
It's a masterful radio dramatization dating back to 1938. The radio play allegedly "stirred terror through the U.S." and "terrified the nation". The broadcast started with the introduction by Orson Welles: "We know now that in the early years of the twentieth century this world was being watched closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own." The broadcast went on followed by a weather report and interviews that were meant to make the dramatization sound realistic. Then there was a special news bulletin announcing that an object about 30 yards wide had fallen on a farm at Grovers Mill.
What the news reporter saw next he described as "the most terrifying thing" he had ever witnessed...
I was hooked by this true-to-life radio adaptation. The way the Martian invasion and its aftermath were reported, and the enactment of one of the few survivors were brilliant.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
What a remarkable radio dramatization of H. G. Wells??? classic novel The War of the Worlds Orson Welles and company made! They effectively distilled the essential elements from the novel into an American context, producing a concise 59-minute program that made me feel that I was listening to an intense night of terror followed by days of existential wandering and wondering.
After a voice proclaims that we are listening to a Mercury Theater presentation of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Orson Welles intones a condensed version of the brilliant opening of the novel, and then quickly sets up the conceit of the first part of the broadcast, that we are listening to a radio program of innocuous dance music that is repeatedly interrupted by eye-witness news flashes from this New Jersey farm where a strange meteor has landed. From there Welles and company use a variety of voices (newsmen, astronomers, farmers, crowds, military men, etc.) and sound effects to create the illusion that the attack of the Martians, complete with heat rays, giant mobile tripods, and poison gas, is happening in real time as we listen to the radio.
After an ???intermission,??? the second part of the dramatization changes from the ersatz radio broadcast to the first person narration by Welles of his professor character???s journal, depicting his attempts to survive and make sense of the invasion. Welles ???out of character??? closes the program by saying that the Mercury Theater was just shouting ???boo!??? at listeners on Halloween Eve and that ???we didn???t mean it.???
Fans of science fiction, of Wells??? novel, of vintage radio theater, and of American culture generally should listen to this program; despite (or due to) its savory slightly static-y quality, it???s well worth the $5.95 ($3.95 for members) price of admission.
I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.
The story of Orson Welles adapting The War of the Worlds on the radio one Halloween and terrifying a ridiculous amount of the United States is kind of legendary today, but as someone who'd never heard it before, I wasn't sure if it'd live up to the legend or not.
It does, and it's a lot of fun to hear and imagine people listening to it when it originally broadcast. The moments of silence between reporters or military personnel when they go off the air unexpectedly just hangs there, and you can imagine the genuine dread that must've inspired (and still does, for those of us unafraid to use our imaginations).
I recently listened to Wells' original novel (narrated by Simon Vance) and I was impressed how much Orson Welles channeled that here - particularly the scene toward the end with the artillery man. It's a very solid adaptation, and a genuine piece of Americana.
It does sound like an old production, but it's well worth listening to if you've ever been curious about how Welles and Wells created possibly the best Trick or Treat in the world.
Christian, Texan, electrician, lover of reading-I lean towards Sci-fi/fantasy but enjoy the classics, history, and science titles also.
Classic apples to oranges question. The written story is an amazing piece of vintage science fiction while the audio version is the actual broadcast played over the radio intended as a Halloween prank on the listeners. This prank had scary consequences that made actual history. I feel each version has its own distinct personality and as such for me to pick a favorite would feel unfair.
With the Star Force series by B.V. Larson fresh in my mind some obvious parallels present themselves, however that would be like comparing the 1963 Doctor who series to the present day installment of the good doctor.
The only other performance I have heard from Mr. Wells was his portrayal of the Transformer planet in the cartoon movie by the same name. The quality of this recording was poor due to the inferior recording equipment of the time however would you really want a better track to take away from the old radio show feel?
Yes, I wanted to listen with my kids and explain a couple things as we went along.
Great fun for the whole family if this is correctly appreciated for what it is.
Before Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity there was the Mercury Theatre production of War of the Worlds.
Never mind being startled and scared by things that go bump in the night after watching a horror movie; this broadcast (and others like it) inspired actual widespread panic in those who missed the part at the beginning about it being a work of fiction. Seriously.
Accept no substitutions. Listen to this classic radio drama and then check out the Radiolab show about it (Google is your friend). You'll be glad you did.
When radio was the predominant form of a family's entertainment after dinner, the people who worked in radio spared no expense. Not special effects, not costumes (as none were required); the real budget was spent on finding the best voices in the business...finding the foley artist who could make that perfect blending of real and manufactured noises...the music, and of course--THE STORY!
How many times have listeners tuned out in less than ten minutes of a lackluster performance.
Orson Welles had an idea that not only created a truely new direction for the RADIO DRAMA, but went so far as to disregard convention. He left little clues, though. Clues such as the fact that this was aired on Halloween (he wanted people to realize that it's a little scary story); unfortunately, phone lines burned with panicked callers. People actually committed suicide while this live performance was underway.
Many huddled in actual panic, thinking that the story was in fact reality, and that the world as they knew it was over.
After the fallout, it was realized that he took the artform of drama, and brought it into laser focus through mere sound.
When you can close your eyes, and see it all...the Theatre of The Mind.
When the main character and a squirell make eye contact for a brief period of time; the narrator wonders if they both felt the same feeling...the joy of seeing another living thing.
I was most drawn to how absolutely committed he was to the passionate opening, from a stumbled, confusing emotional response, to the people he cast to play the role of extras; whose collective screams, moans, and comments added that eerie touch of the real.
It's only 59 minutes. It's the perfect little tale for that hour long drive.
Persons who stumble onto this will also love the original 3D Audio version of THE MIST by Stephen King; and for the same reasons.
1. Committed performances by the cast
2. A good story that's feasible
3. The 59 minute format, making it worth taking along for that hour long drive
What's amazing is that you'd think the digital quality of the Stephen King story would be superior...it's not.
The radio's hiss, sizzle, pop, and fade are also a part of the show!
My hearing will surely go out early in life due to all the audiobooks I listen to!
I have never listened to something like this, and now that I have im kinda kicking myself in the rear for just NOW finding something like this. Absolutely amazing performance even though it was on the radio Halloween eve 1938. Alot of people during that time actually got scared because they thought it was real! Let me tell you if I was a youngling and i just came across this I would have too.
Short and so bittersweet. Such a horrifying tale, perfect for the eve of ghosts, goblins and well ALIENS!!!
I would not listen again, but it was a one-time "must listen."
Yes. This program sounded like an actual broadcast.
He made the invasion appear to be in progress.
"An all time classic"
This is an excellent Adaptation of the HG wells story, bringing it into what would was then a modern setting. The sound is a bit crackly at the stray but it gets better as it goes on.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.