Cat no. 739

War of the Worlds

Running time31:37 Black & White Sound 1952 Clacton-on-Sea, Essex

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Amateur adaptation of H.G.Wells' novel 'War of The Worlds'.


AmateurDramaScience Fiction

During the day-to-day life of Clacton-on-Sea with its sea front, pier and its busy town centre, traffic fills the streets. Motor cars, bicycles and busses predominate but there is one horse and cart in the town centre. At a dance at the social club the young people; jackets and (sometimes) ties for the men, dresses for the women, dance together.

Little does Clacton-on-Sea know that Martians are landing, live-action in the streets of is intercut with animated sequences of the fighting machines. The Martian is dressed like a medieval Knight, with a square shaped head and poor skin. The sound of heat rays signal Clacton's burning. The police and later the fire brigade leap into action. Unaware of the invasion the council chamber sits as normal, likewise folk drink in the pub, sit in the barber's shop and the library all without a clue of Clacton's fate. The Martian emerges from the capsule and then rampages through Clacton. The people frantically clamber onto buses and dead bodies lie in piles. The Martians take prisoners as women run to escape from the Martians. One woman takes refuge in the Clacton Century cinema, she climbs up the building in an attempt to escape.


War of the Worlds At Clacton. In the early 1950s, Clacton Youth and Day Release Centre, with the help of local film maker Lew Broom, produced a 25 minute film of HG Well's 'War of the Worlds'. With local people taking part, the film was shot around the town, and there are many fascinating scenes of the streets and shops in 1952. The film was rescued by Mr. Russell of Walton-on-the-Naze, and passed to the Archive for restoration. This proved to be one of the more complex conservation tasks the Archive has undertaken. 'War of the Worlds' was originally shown on a 16 mm projector running at 16 frames per second with the sound track coming from a set of discs. The film was shot on negative stock (the negative has been lost) and all that remains is a cut version of the film and a small roll of odd shots and sequences.The first job in restoring the film was to transfer the discs in their numbered order to 16 mm fully-coated magnetic track. After this the film and track were run together on a Steenbeck and synchronisation began. It soon became clear that a large chunk of the picture was missing at the beginning of the film. This was found in the roll of odd shots and sequences. It appears that part of the film was removed to show separately at a later date, as an example of what Clacton looked like in the early 1950s. This sequence was put back, and the film began to take shape again. However, other problems occurred. When shown originally, it seems probable that the discs were played on alternate turntables and mixed across at appropriate points in the action. The sound track consisted of music with commentary in palce over the top, usually fitting the picture. Plenty of music was recorded on each disc, so it was not always apparent when the change-over to the next record took place, particularly in the absence of commentary.No paperwork regarding sound or picture has survived (if ever there were any). An added problem was getting the 78 rpm discs and the 16mm separate magnetic track running as near as possible to what was hoped to be the correct speed as originally intended. Further editing brought the sound in line with the picture - a job that took considerably longer than at first imagined. It was necessary to produce a single track for restoration purposes rather than try to recreate a disc presentation every time the film needs to be viewed. However, the original picture and discs will be kept to illustrate this way of making a sound film at that time. To complete the restoration of the 'War of The Worlds' the picture was cleaned, a duplicate picture negative produced, the magnetic track transferred to sound negative, a new optical print made. On Friday 16th March 1990, almost 500 people crowded into the West Cliff Theatre at Clacton to see films of Old Clacton plus the new print of the restored 'War of the Worlds'. (EAFA Newsletter, 1990.).

Featured Organisations:

Clacton Youth Clubs; Essex County Constabulary; Essex County Fire Brigade

Featured Buildings:

The Century Cinema, Clacton-on-Sea; Clacton Pier

Clacton County Youth Centre

L.F. Broom; John Hook

L.F. Broom

Peter Garrard; T. Wiseman

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