Series: American Experience
Episode: War of the Worlds
Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Orson Welles' infamous radio drama, "War of the Worlds" explores this unprecedented and little understood event. With the CBS radio broadcast serving as its narrative spine, the film examines the elements that together created one of the biggest mass hysteria events in U.S. history, including our longtime fascination with life on Mars; the emergence of radio as a powerful new medium; the shocking Hindenburg explosion of 1937, the first disaster to broadcast live; and the creative wunderkind Orson Welles, the 23-year-old director of the drama and mischief maker supreme.
Public reaction, forever immortalized in thousands of letters written to CBS, the Federal Communications Commission and Mr. Wells himself, are dramatized in on-camera interviews, bringing to life the people who listened that night to the broadcast and thought it was either awfully good fun or the end of the world.