H. G. Wells, Orson Welles

The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds
H. G. Wells, Orson Welles (United Kingdom, United States)
Vinyl, Audio (00:59:39)

Orson Welles made radio history with his Halloween 1938 broadcast of the War of the Worlds. Welles directed and narrated the episode of a long-running radio series, The Mercury Theatre on the Air, which adapted H. G. Wells’ iconic science fiction novel. The broadcast caused mass panic in New Jersey because many listeners believed they were listening to an actual Martian invasion in real time. In the days following the broadcast, outrage topped the media headlines because the adaptation reportedly frightened thousands of listeners, some of whom fled into the streets or sought shelter. This historical event illustrates the idea that one should not believe everything one hears, regardless of how legitimate it might sound or look. Although Welles was not intending to create ˝fake news˝ or to deliberately deceive anyone, the entire episode can be viewed as a cautionary tale for modern audiences.