|Orson Welles during the broadcast in 1938 - Courtesy PBS America|
For those of you who don't know about the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, I'll give you a bit of background. On a Sunday evening millions of listeners were tuned in to listen to the radio as was customary in those days. And then at 8:15pm a report interrupted the broadcast and listeners were told that Martians had landed in New Jersey.
Immediately people were alarmed and called in to newspapers and others wondered what could be done to take on the invaders. Panic broke out all over the United States as people heard the report. Of course it was a masterfully executed hoax courtesy of Orson Welles, but many thought that it was truly the end of the world.
The documentary about the radio broadcast will be shown tonight at 9pm on PBS America (Sky channel 534 & Virgin Media channel 243) in order to coincide with the 75th anniversary.
I really enjoyed this documentary as I had heard about this broadcast by Orson Welles, but never knew the story behind it. This film does a very good job of giving a back story and lets us know what the times were like when this broadcast was done. This is an excellent study of the power of radio at the time and looks at how disasters being reported in real time such as the Hindenburg disaster made the times ripe for this hoax.
I really enjoyed this documentary and it is perfect timing since tomorrow is Halloween. It has just that right amount of spookiness if you put yourself in the place of the listeners back then. We have to remember that those were times without the internet and television and such, so finding out information was a lot tougher. People relied on their radios and the newspaper, so when the report came people thought that it had to be the truth.
I'd definitely recommend having a look at this documentary tonight because it's good fun. It was a pleasure to watch and I learned quite a few things.