Blame an exchange on Twitter last night. Richard Burton, with extra menace:
No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space. No one could have dreamed we were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of life on other planets and yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes and slowly, surely, they drew their plans against us.
When I was a kid, one of the records I found among my dad’s small collection of vinyl was the comprehensively named Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of “The War of the Worlds”. I listened to it enough that the eery cry of “Ulla!” gave me some pretty vivid nightmares.
The War of the Worlds has had some very high-profile adaptations: Orson Welles’s famous 1938 radio play, the brilliant 1952 film, the not-so-brilliant 2005 Spielberg/Cruise blockbuster. Jeff Wayne’s is my favourite (maybe because it was my first).
“Thunder Child” is the tiny moment of hope — maybe we can beat the Martians — that’s quickly dashed. Tom Cruise isn’t around to thrust explosives into the belly of the machine, unfortunately.