War Of The Worlds has everything an essential sci-fic action flick needs: Explosions aplenty, extraterrestrial invasions, and extraordinary lightning storms that bring not just a family but the whole world together. Steven Spielberg’s 9/11 tinged version of H.G. Wells classic novel stars Tom Cruise as a father desperately trying to reunite his family while battling aliens in a doomsday scenario. The film was praised in particular for the cast’s strong performances, as well as its innovative special effects, for which it was nominated at the Academy Awards (alongside Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, all three of which were lost to King Kong).
But did you know…
1) Spielberg tried to keep almost every part of the filmmaking process a secret. Cast and crew were in the dark about the aliens’ appearances, and refused to share the full script. Screenwriter David Koepp comments that “[Spielberg] wouldn’t give [the screenplay] to anybody”, rather opting to share bits and pieces of it as they became relevant. Actress Miranda Otto was even reluctant to discuss the story with her family: “In the old days people didn’t get to know much about movies before they came out and nowadays there’s just so much information. I think a bit of mystery is always really good. You don’t want to blow all of your cards beforehand.”
2) One particularly impressive scene in the film sees the Ferrier clan thrown into the water when several tripod aliens attack the ferry they were trying to use to cross the Hudson River. Shooting the scene in a massive tank, Spielberg played music through underwater speakers to set the mood. However, first he decided to play a prank on Cruise and the crew by blasting the iconic ‘der-dum, der-dum’ theme from his 1975 classic Jaws.