War of the Worlds

Have you ever heard the Orson Wells War of the Worlds radio broadcast? The one which supposedly caused mass panic, and certainly made Welles’ name?

It’s available on archive.org — and it’s very, very good. The genius is how intentionally clumsy the whole thing is: the musical interludes, the interviewees who don’t know what to say, the broadcaster gradually sliding from workaday reporting into astonished horror:

the programme is clearly framed as a broadcast within a broadcast. Then comes the neatly devised sequence of weather report, musical interlude (from the non-existent Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York), news flash about peculiar explosions, more music, more announcements, rambling interview with Professor Pierson, head of the Observatory at Princeton (a gruff and bumbling and highly recognisable Welles), followed by the brilliant on-the-spot reporting sequences. [source]

Here is the script, incidentally. And no, I don’t know why it’s on “sacred-texts.com” either.

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