It's all a Spielberg plot
by Al Sullivan Reporter senior staff writer
Jan 18, 2005 | 606 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Steven Spielberg has kept his script of War of the Worlds very secret.

Even the production grew has received it only in stages on a "need to know" basis, signing for each page so as to keep control of whom saw what and when so if anything got out the leak could be tracked to its source.

I've not seen a single page nor has anyone told me anything about it.

But people have talked about what they've seen in the filming process and a study of the sets I saw, photographs I've taken or received have provided clues. With some familiarity with Spielberg's previous films and an adequate knowledge of the original books, it is not hard to piece together some overall idea of what Spielberg's War of the Worlds will look like when it hits the big screen in June.

In fact, Spielberg has given us some very valuable clues as to the direction he has taken with the film in just the release of the trailer - which is expected to be played during the halftime television break during the Super bowl. Since the trailer is so loyal to the opening of the H.G. Wells' book, it might be logical to assume Spielberg will follow the pattern of plotting that Wells established.

Wells' book is divided into three or four significant sections: first arrival, aliens appear, early efforts to contain them, invasion of the cities, and then the dispersing and hunting down of humanity.

Most likely Tom Cruise's character will not make an immediate appearance, but will follow a sequence of setup scenes that start with an astronomer (played by Tim Robbins) sighting flashes on the surface of Mars. Most likely this will be followed by a series of scenes showing the earth being showered by meteor-like objects panning in finally to some wooded area - perhaps filmed in Howell Township, New Jersey or Athens, New York, where locals are drawn to the landing places. In 1953 film, a bit of drama is created by not knowing the people fate when they stop communicating.

Early efforts to contain the invaders fail and eventually, we are brought to the trailers sequence showing the advance on the suburbs and eventually the cities. At this point, we encounter the character played by Tom Cruise, who is so caught up in his own domestic situation that he isn't aware of the aliens until one lands on the Bayonne Bridge - which in film reality is located in the Iron Bound section of Newark.

The shoots in Bayonne suggest a conflict at a gas station at the foot of the bridge and then Cruise's flight from danger.

It is unclear whether or not his kids are at the gas station with him or he flies back to them in order to rescue them from danger. But the Cruise character does return to a house about a half a block away.

Having walked through most of the Bayonne sets - including three floors duplicated on a nearby sound stage - I realized that Spielberg invested a lot of time and money on the home in which the main character lived. And that the sets were designed so that characters could be filmed from every angle while inside. This is a trademark Spielberg scene as depicted in the book as well as the 1953 movie of Cruise trapped in a house with the aliens outside. Picture this as a cross between the abduction scenes from Close Encounters and Poltergeist.

My guess is that the film sequence in Cruise's home will start on the second floor where the bedrooms for the kids are located as the aliens send their tentacle in through windows seeking to grab them. Cruise dragging both kids down the stairs to the first floor will try the back door and find the aliens there, then rush down into the basement to the garage, load the kids into the convertible, and burst out with the Mustang in an escape scene that will feature exploding cars and houses. He may use another vehicle since the Mustang I saw without an engine would provide an exciting escape. Once out of the garage cars and buildings will explode on every side as the aliens heat rays seek to destroy this upstart.

Once of the focus of the film centers on the Cruise character it likely follows him and his fight against and flight from danger, through the heart of Newark - where some battle scenes were filmed, and then eventually out of the city into the country. This will likely be depicted in an escalating sequence of scenes that feature a series of noble efforts to resist the aliens, the army joining in to offer resistance, with battles taking place on bridges and against dramatic industrial backdrops in New Jersey and New York, and perhaps even in the swamps Spielberg had constructed in Howell Township, New Jersey, only to eventually lead to the slow, miserable retreat of terrified humanity in scenes filmed on Staten Island.

Contact Al Sullivan at
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