The BBC’s recent The War of the Worlds adaptation is out on DVD this week.
Set in Edwardian England, the new three-part adaptation of H. G. Wells’s classic sci-fi novel stars Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark), Rafe Spall (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty).
After a huge meteor strikes Horsell Common in Surrey, England, the inhabitants of Earth face a vicious attack by an unknown alien race. Amidst the chaos, George leaves his loveless marriage in the hope of starting a new life with Amy, despite the condemnation of the community around them.
But for George and Amy, alongside every other human on the planet, this plan is suddenly interrupted when they soon find themselves fighting for their survival against a ruthless enemy beyond their comprehension – an enemy determined to destroy humanity and conquer the planet.
All three episodes are out now on DVD in the UK from ITV Studios Global Entertainment and it’s also available to watch on Digital Download.
Here’s some interesting trivia about The War of the Worlds:
The names of the main characters – George and Amy – comes from the name H. G. Wells was best known as and the name of his wife.
Director Craig Viveiros was obsessed with Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of the Worlds as a kid: “I went through all the LP covers and there was this fascinating image of a huge machine tearing down upon a ship in the ocean. That was my very first introduction to the story and I listened to it over and over again, with Richard Burton’s haunting voice etched in my mind from then on.”
The idea for each episode to have a visual tonal difference was inspired by European romanticism and the works of Goya and Turner and the ideas of really dramatic skies and deep tonal contrasting colours.
Ogilvy’s observatory was filmed in the botanical gardens in Liverpool. Robert Carlyle revealed: “This sort of set is my passion. I actually restore old furniture, particularly of the Victorian age, so coming to Ogilvy’s location was like a home away from home for me.”
The design for the alien tripods came from nature. Director Craig Viveiros revealed: “My initial inspiration for the alien exoskeleton and the tripod came from sitting in my garden in Lisbon. I started looking at the bark of the trees and studying the different layers and I realised that this was like armour for the tree to protect itself and a way of shedding its skin to inform its growth.”
Production designer Pat Campbell based the look of the Red World on research into environmental disasters and places that are at risk of sand storms, intense heat and drought.
The sounds of the Martians were played live on set for the actors to react to.
Eleanor Tomlinson describes the Red World set as “like stepping into another world.” She explained: “Outside the studio it was blazing daylight but once you have stepped through the studio doors and onto the Red World stage you could barely see the person standing in front of you. There was mist and dust and it immediately got us into the zone and mindset of the character and the life that they were living.”
Although it’s not explicitly stated, Robert Carlyle interpreted his character Ogilvy as being gay: “He does say at one point to Amy when she is highlighting the gossipy nature of the village and worries that her relationship with George is being discussed, Ogilvy says ‘you should hear what they say about me’. She questions this and he tells her that he is an unmarried bachelor of advancing years who keeps himself nicely turned out, which is a big thing to say in those times as you could go to jail for being gay.”
This adaptation is the first ever time on screen that the story has been set in its original time period.
The huge capsule that is discovered by Ogilvy and Amy was really there on location as a physical prop and not just added in with CGI afterwards. Robert Carlyle admitted: “I fully expected to see green-screen everywhere, so when I saw this huge set it was fantastic.”
Seven movie adaptations of The War of the Worlds have been made and another TV adaptation was also made this year, starring Elizabeth McGovern from Downton Abbey.
HG Wells’ novel has been in print continuously ever since its first publication over 120 years ago.