For the week of Halloween, CET and ThinkTV are excited to bring you an American Experience presentation of one of the scariest stories of all time – War of the Worlds.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the legendary radio drama that caused widespread panic. Shortly after 8pm on Halloween Eve in 1938, the voice of a panicked radio announcer broke in with a news announcement reporting strange explosions on the planet Mars, followed minutes later by news that Martians had landed in the tiny town of Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
Although most listeners understood that the news was part of a radio drama, the next day's headlines reported that thousands of others plunged into panic, convinced that America was under a deadly Martian attack. It turned out to be H.G. Wells' classic The War of the Worlds, performed by 23-year-old Orson Welles.
The film examines the elements that made America ripe for the hoax: America’s longtime fascination with life on Mars; the emergence of radio as a powerful new medium; the shocking Hindenburg explosion of 1937; and Welles himself, the wunderkind director of the drama and mischief-maker supreme.
Watch the first chapter of the program online now: