H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (2005 film)

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For the Steven Spielberg film, see War of the Worlds (2005 film). For the David Michael Latt film, see H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds (2005 film).
H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds
Directed by Timothy Hines
Produced by Susan Goforth
Written by Timothy Hines
Susan Goforth
Based on The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
Starring Anthony Piana
Music by Jamie Hall
Edited by Timothy Hines
Distributed by Pendragon Pictures
Release date(s) June 14, 2005
Running time 180 min.
Language English
Budget $25 million (est.)[1]

H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (also known as The Classic War of the Worlds or simply as War of the Worlds) is one of three film adaptations of H. G. Wells' classic novel of the same name released in 2005, about a Martian invasion of Earth. This version was produced by the independent film production company Pendragon Pictures and unlike the other film adaptations which were set in current day in the United States, it was the first set in the book's original time period and location, in the Victorian era of the late 1890s in England. The film is shot entirely with colour schemes to resemble the film quality of the early 20th century, and has been noted for its "extreme faithfulness" to Wells' novel.[2] It received mostly negative reviews by critics and was released on DVD in America. The movie has recently been released through GAGA on DVD in Japan. The film has altogether sold over half a million DVDs in the United States and Canada. Two additional versions of the 2005 film were released: a trimmed-down Director's Cut, and a Classic edition, re-edited with new footage. A full reboot of the film was released in 2012 titled War of the Worlds – The True Story, reframing Wells' story as actual history, set in a documentary discovering that history.


The early part of the film follows the experience of a late 19th-century journalist from Woking, known as "the writer", involved with the discovery of a Martian Cylinder. The Cylinder opens and the Martians start killing people with a "Heat Ray". The writer discovers his house is in range of the Heat Ray and decides to take his wife and servant to her cousins in Leatherhead, but returns to restore a borrowed cart to its owner. Meanwhile the Martians have built tall tripod "Fighting Machines" and begin a rampage. The film also shows the adventures of his brother, a student in London, who accompanies two ladies to the East coast of England to escape the Martians. The writer tries to get back to his Wife in Leatherhead but is confounded and beset by problems during this journey.

Main cast[edit]

  • Anthony Piana - The Writer/The Brother
  • Jack Clay - Ogilvy
  • John Kaufmann - The Curate
  • Darlene Sellers - Mrs. Elphinstone
  • James Lathrop - The Artilleryman
  • Susan Goforth - The Wife
  • Jamie Lynn Sease - Miss Elphinstone

Production history[edit]

The film's development dates back to 2000, when Pendragon Pictures approached Paramount with plans for their version, but with no results. Director Timothy Hines had long desired to make his own version of the story since he read the original novel at the age of eight. He had always wanted to tell the tale just as it was in the novel, but he eventually settled on a modern retelling, much like the original 1953 film and the 2005 Spielberg adaptation. Hines' version was to take place in Seattle, with a Martian attack preceded by neutralizing electromagnetic power, so that events could be kept as similar to the novel as possible.

Anticipation for the film began to stir in July 2001, specifically from many anxious Wells fans. In a 2004 interview with Scifidimensions.com,[3] Hines stated that after early Microsoft employees and others in the computer industry saw his desktop film, Bug Wars, a package of $42 million was assembled for the updated modern version. Katie Tomlinson was supposed to lead the cast as the lead character Jody, the foreign correspondent, and Susan Goforth was also set to star. Hines was also planning to shoot the film in the brand new Sony CineAlta HD system which George Lucas had used to film Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.[4]

Production began in early September 2001, with plans to move into principal photography by October of that year, and a Halloween 2002 target release date. Businessweek[5] reported that Hines abandoned this approach after the World Trade Center attacks.[3] Two weeks later, with the support of Charles Keller, the director of the H. G. Wells Society, Hines began writing a new script with producer Susan Goforth, while they were filming Chrome. The new direction taken was that this version was to be adapted directly from the Wells novel.

Little information appeared about the film until 2004, when it was revealed that the principal photography had finished under the cover title of The Great Boer War, and the producers planned to release the film on March 30, 2005. That date came and went with no film release; the film never opened in theaters, but was released in North America on DVD in June 2005. In a series of questions presented by audiences,[6] Hines claimed that the film never saw a theatrical release due to exhibitors pulling out, either from being bullied by Paramount, or through fear of reprisal from the studio.

The 2005 book War of the Worlds: From Wells to Spielberg devotes a chapter to the Pendragon film, and states that the budget was "approximately $25 million."[1]

Dark Horse[edit]

In July 2006, Pendragon Pictures announced in a press release that the Dark Horse Comics H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds comic possessed visual similarities to Pendragon's film. Pendragon set up a website poll showing image comparisons. In April 2008, the company publicly announced the legal settlement of the matter, stating it "apologizes for any misconception its press release or later internet poll may have caused."[7][8]


Although the film's score by Jamie Hall was well received,[9][10] the film as a whole saw mixed reviews by critics; who, while often praising the good intentions behind the project and its faithfulness to the source material,[2] variously described the result as "unendurable"[11] and "terrible in almost every way a movie can be",[12] with "awful" effects.[13]

Reviewers invoked the work of Ed Wood,[12] and the worst of Mystery Science Theater 3000.[14] But one reviewer suggested the performances were like that in British period melodramas, and favorably likened the work to that of Karel Zeman.[15]

Hines himself said of the movie, "I wanted to make War of the Worlds. But what I made was something that has a macabre cult following, like an Ed Wood movie. [...] I’ve learned a lot since my first outing. My heart is really in the new War of the Worlds – The True Story."[16]


To date the film has been re-released twice, available in 17 countries including Japan.

H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds: Director's Cut[edit]

Released: September 2005
Reviewers complained about the original film's three-hour running time,[9][12] and this version cut about forty-five minutes. The version was only available in regions 2 and 4, and thus not available in the United States and Canada.

The Classic War of the Worlds[edit]

Released: December 25, 2006
This edition is the special final cut edit of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds and is 125 minutes long, fifty-five minutes shorter than the original film. It has added scenes, re-edits, and re-tooled special effects. The director says this is the definitive version.[attribution needed] The Classic War of the Worlds replaces the 3 hour rough cut version, H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, that was widely distributed and is now discontinued.

War of the Worlds – The True Story
Poster of dossier, showing Martian war machine, characters and events from the film
Theatrical poster
Directed by Timothy Hines
Produced by Susan Goforth
Based on The War of the Worlds 
by H.G. Wells 1898
Starring Floyd Reichman
Jim Cissell
Jack Clay
Narrated by Jim Cissell
Music by Jamie Hall
Pendragon Pictures
Release date(s) June 14, 2012
Language English

War of the Worlds – The True Story[edit]

In 2012, a reboot was released entitled War of the Worlds – The True Story, a documentary-style drama directed by Timothy Hines, which revisits Wells' novel, portraying the events of the book as historical, through the documented recollections of a survivor of the war.


In the film, Martians actually invaded the England in 1900, and the last survivor of that battle was filmed giving his eyewitness account of the Martian invasion. That footage disappeared until 2006, when it was found in the basement vault of a condemned house, along with previously unknown footage of the Martian invaders and their 100 foot high machines of war.

The film bases its documentary approach on the 1938 Orson Welles CBS radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, by presenting itself as a true account of actual events.[17] Director Timothy Hines said, in reference to this technique, "When Orson Welles broadcast War of the Worlds on the radio in the 30s, he presented it in such a way as to not clearly identify that it was a work of fiction. He did it for the drama. And many people took the fictional news broadcast as a real news broadcast. People believed they were hearing an actual invasion from Mars that night. We are approaching the story in the same way, as if it were an actual news documentary."[18][19]


  • Floyd Reichman
  • Jim Cissell
  • Jack Clay
  • Anthony Piana
  • Susan Goforth
  • James Lathrop
  • John Kaufmann
  • Darlene Sellers
  • Jamie Lynn Sease
  • W. Bernard Bauman[20]


The then-82 year old actor Floyd Reichman, playing Bertie Wells, was recruited from the Theatre Puget Sound website by producer Goforth. Goforth played the character "The Wife" in flashbacks.[21] Jim Cissell provides narration.[16] Seattle-area actors Jack Clay (professor emeritus of the UW School of Drama) and John Kaufmann complete the main cast.[17] The film's budget was "less than" US$10 million.[22] Principal photography filmed at the Hogland House, a bed and breakfast in Mukilteo, Washington.[21] Post-production work included "incorporating footage from the original film, archival stills from the period of the story, World War I footage, historical maps, photographs and other footage that will give the film the look and feel of a true documentary" according to Goforth and Hines.[21] Editing took a "reported 3 1/2 years".[23]


According to the production company's website, the film was scheduled for a July 2011 release, to be available only in theaters on select weekends.[24]

As of 2011, the film was scheduled to tour 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada. Co-Producer Donovan Le stated that opening on weekends would be the most lucrative, with "no internet distribution whatsoever until the movie has played out its run." Hines stated he was inspired by Kevin Smith's Rockstar Tour for his film Red State.[25]

The film premiered in Seattle on June 14, 2012 to begin its 50-theatre tour of the United States.[17][26][27]

To qualify for nomination for the Oscars,[28] from December 18–24, 2012, True Story played in Pasadena, California.[29][30]


Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times described the film as "clever like Wells" and "hugely inventive and ambitious," with an "eye-popping variety of" original and archival footage", matched to the period, adding, "War of the Worlds: The True Story," a mock sci-fi docudrama packed with a truly impressive —and clever —mix of editing (a reported 3 1/2 years' worth), special effects, visual artistry and offbeat storytelling. In closing, he wrote, "It's quite a production."[23]

The Hollywood Reporter summarized the film as "mostly impressive for its technical achievements", and "despite the undeniable technical proficiency on display, it yields diminishing returns." Describing the integration of film from various sources, "Hines weaves the various styles of footage together in expert fashion, creating a relatively seamless effect. He’s also been remarkably faithful to the source material" of Wells' novel. But the reviewer concluded:[20] "But ultimately the viewer is less consumed by the story than in dispassionately admiring the craftsmanship on display. The dramatic scenes, filmed in sepia tones to blend in with the historical footage, are clumsily staged and acted. And the endless battle sequences blend in together in wearying fashion, making the film seem far longer than its 105 minutes."[20]

In Ain't It Cool News the reviewer described True Story as "The best film I had the privilege of seeing this week", continuing, "I especially loved watching the attacks of both the aliens and the giant machines which have a Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow look to them." He summed up the film as "one of the coolest little films I’ve come across in quite a while. As if the Orson Welles radio broadcast wasn’t mythic enough, along comes this mock-doc to add a whole new layer of intrigue to H.G. Wells’ fascinating story. Highly recommended to those who love revisionist history, alien invasion films, and thrilling real life documentaries.”[31]

Shawn Frances, critic of the movie review site, You Won Cannes, praised the movie saying, "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."[32]

The Port Townsend Leader, published in Hines' home town, described the film's visuals as "packing a punch" despite the limited budget, finding the "designs of the tripods and aliens much truer to the book" than in other films of Wells' story, and that "Hines uses [the aliens'] limited screen time well."[22] The review noted that "scenes of destruction and panic tend to blur together after awhile" in spite of some "standout set pieces", and the sepia-toned palette of the film "loses its appeal". Concluding, the film "puts a unique spin on something that has been done many times before, which is no small feat."[22]

Award eligibility[edit]

In 2012, the film was selected as one of 104 eligible for nomination for the 85th Annual Academy Awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[33] The film's score, by Jamie Hall was also selected as one of 104 eligible for nomination for a 2012 Oscar.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Flynn, John L. (2005). "War of the Worlds: From Wells to Spielberg". Galactic Books, p. 111. ISBN 0-9769400-0-0
  2. ^ a b Thomas, Brian (August 16, 2005). "H.G. Wells' War Of The Worlds -Pendragon joins the battle". Mania.com. 
  3. ^ a b Snider, John C. (November 2004). Interview: Timothy Hines (Director, H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds). SciFi Dimensions.
  4. ^ "Press Release: May 8th, 2001". eve of the war (Press release). Pendragon Pictures. April 22, 2005. Archived from the original on June 19, 2006. 
  5. ^ Lowry, Tom; Grover, Ronald (September 28, 2001). "On with the Show? Don't Bet on It". Business Week.
  6. ^ "Director Timothy Hines talks H.G. Wells' The War Of The Worlds and answers the fans". Pendragon Pictures, 2005. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  7. ^ Olson, Kevin Noel (July 31, 2006). "Pendragon Tries to Start War of the Worlds With Dark Horse". Archived from the original on 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  8. ^ "Pendragon Pictures Official Web page". Archived from the original on 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2010-08-09.  Announcement of settlement on homepage.
  9. ^ a b Hooper, Nathan (July 18, 2005). "DVD Review: H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (Late in depth breakdown review)". EveoftheWar.com. Archived from the original on May 18, 2006. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  10. ^ porfle (June 28, 2005). "H. G. Wells' The War Of The Worlds" (Review). BumsCorner.com. Archived from the original on 2006-03-03. Retrieved 2011-10-25. 
  11. ^ Johanson, Maryann (June 27, 2005). "H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (review)". FlickFilosopher.com. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  12. ^ a b c Snider, John C. (July 2005). "DVD Review: H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds". SciFiDimensions.com.
  13. ^ Gosling, John (2006). "Review of The War Of The Worlds (Timothy Hines, 2005)". War-ofthe-Worlds.co.uk. 
  14. ^ Weinberg, Scott (July 12, 2005). DVD Talk Review: The War of the Worlds (Pendragon). DVD Talk.
  15. ^ Leeper, Mark R. (June 25, 2005). "H.G Wells' The War of the Worlds: Mark's Take". Computer Crow's Nest. Archived from the original on 2005-07-01. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  16. ^ a b Martin, Jessica (March 10, 2010). "War of the Worlds gets a mock-umentary film". Stephen Hunt's SF Crows Nest. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  17. ^ a b c Macdonald, Moira (July 21, 2011). "'War of the Worlds' faux doc and 'Casablanca' highlight special films". Seattle Times
  18. ^ Staff (March 12, 2010). "War Of The Worlds Mock Documentary Is Coming". SpaceDaily.com.
  19. ^ Marshall, Doug (dougevil) (August 14, 2011). "War of the Worlds: The True Story Gives It Another Go". Dread Central.
  20. ^ a b c Scheck, Frank (December 27, 2012). "War of the Worlds: The True Story: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  21. ^ a b c Archipley, Paul (February 11, 2010). "H.G. Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’ filmed in Mukilteo - Martians land at B&B". Mukilteo Beacon. p. 1,7. Retrieved September 13, 2012. (subscription required)
  22. ^ a b c Hiegler, Tristan (July 18, 2012). "Review: 'War of Worlds' brings original story to life". Port Townsend Leader (ptleader.com). Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  23. ^ a b Goldstein, Gary (December 18, 2012). "Review: War of the Worlds: The True Story is clever like Wells". The Los Angeles Times (LATimes.com). Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  24. ^ "War of the Worlds – the True Story Website Tour Page". Official website, Tour Page, 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  25. ^ Martin, Jessica (June 13, 2011). "War of the Worlds The True Story". SFCrowsnest.com. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  26. ^ "Images and details revealed in the new War Of The Worlds The True Story TV Spot". Seattle PI. June 19, 2012. Press release. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  27. ^ "Here & Elsewhere: PT native launches 'War of the Worlds'". Ptleader.com, Port Townsend Leader. June 6, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  28. ^ War Of The Worlds The True Story. Laemmle Theaters. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  29. ^ "For your consideration". War of the Worlds The True Story official website. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  30. ^ "Qualifying". Laemmle Theaters. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  31. ^ "AICN horror looks at War of the Worlds: The True Story! Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan! ...". Ain't It Cool News. July 8, 2013.
  32. ^ "Movie Review: War Of The Worlds: The True Story (2013, Dir. Timothy Hines)". You Won Cannes. June 22, 2013.
  33. ^ "Reminder List of Productions Eligible for the 85th Academy Awards". oscars.org. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  34. ^ Thompson, Anne (December 10, 2012). "Academy Reveals 104 Eligible Original Scores for 2012 Oscar Race". Indiewire. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-12-18.

External links[edit]

The True Story