April 8, 2014

Mars and the Orson Welles War of the Worlds

One thing I think everyone, and I do mean everyone misses is that the script of the War of the Worlds makes it plain that the events of the story take place on October 30,*1939*, a year in the future of the actual broadcast (10/30/1938)

In the thirty-ninth year of the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
It was near the end of October. Business was better. The war scare was over. More men were back at work. Sales were picking up. On this particular evening, October 30, the Crosley service estimated that thirty-two million people were listening in on radios.

Welles is basically predicting that WWII, in the War of the Worlds universe, did not and would not begin the following year (from the perspective of the broadcast) and that the Depression would ease.

Toward the end...

I walked up Broadway in the direction of that strange powder -- past silent shop windows, displaying their mute wares to empty sidewalks -- past the Capitol Theatre, silent, dark -- past a shooting gallery, where a row of empty guns faced an arrested line of wooden ducks. Near Columbus Circle I noticed models of 1939 motorcars in the showrooms facing empty streets.

Even better, I have astronomical proof, too. I fired up Stellarium to see what the night sky was like at around 9pm Eastern Time in Princeton, New Jersey. And guess what? Mars is below the horizon on 10/30/1938 (the night of the broadcast and when everyone seems to think it takes place) but Mars is well into the sky and visible on October 30,1939, which is the date that the show takes place, according to the script.

Posted by Jvstin at April 8, 2014 8:07 PM