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WAR OF THE WORLDS

About The Film
First published in 1898, The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells's seminal story of alien invasion, is a literary classic. The frightening specter of our planet being ripped from us — with ordinary human lives held in the balance like ants on a twig — has retained its power for over a century. For Spielberg, the story is especially resonant today. "I thought now would be a good time to send ‘War of the Worlds' crashing down around everybody's ears,” says the Academy Award®-winning director. Known for films about more hospitable intergalactic guests, Spielberg was eager to revisit the idea of alien visitation, but he warns anyone looking for long-fingered friendly space travelers: "This is not one of my sweet, cuddly, benign alien stories.”

"This is E.T. gone bad,” says Tom Cruise. "You do not want to run into these aliens.” Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, who is faced with the ultimate test of fatherhood when the aliens attack. "The question is: are they going to make it?” says Cruise. "Will they survive? And to what extent would you go to protect your children?”

"War of the Worlds” marks Spielberg and Cruise's second collaboration, after "Minority Report.” "Having known each other for many, many years, this has brought a whole new evolution to our relationship as director-actor,” comments Spielberg. "He's such an intelligent, creative partner, and brings such great ideas to the set that we just spark each other. I love working with Tom Cruise.”

Producer and longtime collaborator Kathleen Kennedy notes that with "War of the Worlds” Spielberg had the opportunity to explore the antithesis of the characters brought to life in "E.T.” and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” "When we first started developing ‘E.T.,' it was a much edgier, darker story and it actually evolved into something that was more benign. I think that the edgier, darker story has always been somewhere inside him. Now, he's telling that story.”

"This is the flip side of what we saw twenty years ago,” adds production designer Rick Carter. "Back then, we were introduced to some alien forms that were very benign and our great fears about them turned out to be ill-founded. The child in us understood that. For the man that Steven is now and the times that he's living in, those aliens take on a different form.”

"I just thought it would be fun to make a really scary movie with really scary aliens, which I had never done before,” Spielberg says.

Far away from the halls of the Pentagon or the Oval Office, "War of the Worlds” takes place in an ordinary world. "This is a very simple story,” says Spielberg, "it's a story about survival, about a father trying to keep his children safe. It's about the basic elements of human nature set against an extraordinarily unnatural event.”

Cruise notes that from the beginning, Spielberg described the film to him in subjective, rather than objective, terms. "You understand that the whole world is under attack but it's all from the point of view of Ray Ferrier,” Cruise says. "He has a great perception of human behavior. He finds those unique moments, those little things. Steven does that with his movies and it brings you right into those characters and their stories. You're connected with them, so things that are frightening are really frightening. It's happening to us, the audience.”

"I wanted Ray to become like a lot of people,” says Spielberg, "because he has to represent all of us. He and his family are representing our own fears, our own facilities to survive, our own resourcefulness.”

Like H. C. Wells, Spielberg was intent on telling a contemporary story, on bringing the aliens into the world we know. "The story may be something born out of a fantasy notion but in fact is dealt with in a hyper-realistic way,” says Kennedy. "Steven is always exploring the extraordinary set against the ordinary and he continues to pursue that th

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