War of the Worlds: American Experience: Celebrating 75 years since Orson Welles provoked panic with the notorious 1938 radio drama broadcast of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, this American Experience documentary reexamines the event’s legacy.
The notorious 1938 radio drama broadcast of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds remains the prime example of mass media’s potential to cause mass hysteria. Celebrating 75 years since Orson Welles’ panic-provoking news bulletins announced a Martian invasion, War of the Worlds: American Experience reexamines the broadcast’s legacy through interviews with historians and experts, and through letters sent to Welles by the public. The documentary shows how factors like the Great Depression, the threat of war in Europe, the Hindenburg disaster, a fascination with Mars and the emergence of radio as a powerful medium all contributed to anxious Americans mistaking fiction for truth. “In an era when the public can still be fooled or misled by what is read online, in print, or seen on TV, War of the Worlds is a timely reminder of the power of mass media,” says American Experience executive producer Mark Samels. War of the Worlds: American Experience premieres on PBS Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 9pm ET (check local listings).
Credit: ©CBS Radio/Photofest, Inc.