The War of the Worlds: Next Century


[Wojna swiatów – nastepne stulecie] Polonia, 1982, colore, 35mm, 96′
di Piotr Szulkin
Sceneggiatura Piotr Szulkin – Fotografia Zygmunt Samosiuk – Musiche Jerzy Maksymiuk, Józef Skrzek – Interpreti
Roman Wilhelmi, Krystyna Janda, Mariusz Dmochowski, Jerzy Stuhr, Marek Walczewski

Like Szulkin’s first feature film (Golem, 1979), this is in part a satire on the media. But where Szulkin’s interest in the earlier film was in the ability of the media to mould opinion, his interest here is explicitly with censorship and the invasion of Poland. Accordingly, though the film is dedicated to H.G. Wells and Orson Welles (whose 1938 radio adaptation of Wells’ “War of the Worlds” caused a mass panic on the east coast of America) and set in the year 1999, its concerns are far more immediate and all the more powerful for being so. Szulkin’s script focuses on a local TV reporter (Wilhelmi) who witnesses the arrival of the Martians on Earth and is used by the authorities to legitimize the invasion. Similar in part to The Monitors(1968), but far more controlled, the film follows Wilhelmi’s desperate attempts to tell an unconcerned and uncomprehending public the truth. The bitter conclusion has Wilhelmi’s show trial being televised on the “Now Better News Show” that replaced his own news programme.