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The War of the Worlds review - HG Wells's aliens invade the north

* War-of-the-Worlds.jpgLaura Lindow's adaptation of the sci-fi classic is a thrilling parable of complacency that allows a brilliant cast to shine. H G Wells wrote The War of the Worlds at the height of empire complacency. In the late 19th century industry was booming, technology was dazzling and Britain ruled the waves.

The prosperous villages in the hinterland outside London, where the novel is set, could afford to look inwards with little-Englander smugness. The book's audacity lies in its challenge to a self-satisfied nation.

What if there were a power greater than the colonial white man, it seems to ask. What if the control he held over the natural world were held over him instead? And what if the telescopes, steam engines and inventions that shaped the modern world were eclipsed by a scientific knowledge more sophisticated still? In this sense, the threat posed by the invading Martians, beings who treat people as if they were irritating ants, is a metaphorical one. It stands for all we have to lose in our arrogant assumption of superiority.

6th February 2018

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