World Ready for War
Spielberg says current unease in the world makes the time
right for a movie about hostile aliens
Photo and text by Chris Betros
Steven Spielberg has made movies about benevolent
aliens (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and cute aliens
(E.T.), but he thought now was the time for a movie about
some really nasty aliens. War of the Worlds, starring Tom
Cruise, Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins, transplants H.G. Wells
classic novel of 1898 from Britain to present-day America.
Its every bit as relevant today, said Spielberg during
a visit to Japan with Cruise and Fanning.
Good stories last forever, said the 58-year-old
director. When Wells wrote it, he was making a social
statement against British colonialism of the late 19th century.
Whenever the story has been told, it has been at a time when
there was great unease in the world. Orson Welles radio
play in 1939 scared much of America at a time when Hitler
was on the move. Then the 1953 film came amid the Cold War.
Recently, when I look up at the sky, I feel tension in the
air. We seem to live in a more nervous universe. I could have
made this film in the 1970s or the 1980s, but today I think
the film has found a place in the shadow of 9/11. The conditions
were right for a film about aliens who might not be as pleasant
War of the Worlds tells the story of giant tripods,
buried for millennia all over the Earth. When they are activated
by alien invaders coming down via lightning bolts, they start
leveling cities and exterminating the human race. Cruise plays
an estranged father of two children, trying desperately to
survive the onslaught. For me, this film is about family,
not invading aliens, said the 45-year-old star. What
would you do if you were challenged? Would you be able to
protect your family? Could you rise to the occasion?
Cruise had nothing but praise for Spielberg. Its
great to work with Steven because he is the greatest storyteller
in the history of cinema.
Spielberg said he doesnt like to talk about his movies
much. The film does a better job than any distributor
possibly could, he said. Its up to the film
to communicate itself to you, and not the studio to spoil
the surprise. I respect you as an audience. One fan
who got a personal meeting with the director was Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi. Spielberg gave him an autographed program
of War of the Worlds and later told reporters: Your
prime minister has movie-star good looks.
For Fanning (I Am Sam, Man on Fire, Hide and Seek), this was
her first news conference and the precocious 11-year-old was
enjoying every bit of it. She said working with Spielberg
and Cruise was a wonderful learning experience, but added
that she found the sets depicting the devastation of the countryside
There are amusing references to Japan in the film. A TV Asahi
news broadcast is conspicuous, as is a reference to the first
tripod being downed in Osaka. Japan has had a lot of
experience dealing with giant monsters like Gamera and Godzilla
wreaking havoc on cities, Spielberg joked.
Next up for Spielberg will be the long-awaited Indiana Jones
4, co-produced by George Lucas and starring a 63-year-old
Harrison Ford, while Cruise is set to make Mission: Impossible
Even astrologers keep secrets
Hailing all the way from India, but now based in Okachimachi,
Raja Rajguru has built up a loyal following among celebrities
from all over the world. Step into his office and find out
whats in store for you.
Why did you come to Japan?
I was here briefly in 1990, but I started living here in 2000.
It was good for me to come here from an astrological point
What is your astrological method?
Its called Jyotish and its based on the solar
system and the nine planets. From the actions and reactions
of the planets, the effects of the sun and the zodiac signs,
I can tell a persons past, present and future.
Do you get asked some strange questions?
Lots of womenfrom married women to schoolgirlsask
me if they will have another relationship in the future. It
sounds to me like they just want to fool around. It hurts
Can you predict an earthquake?
Yes, but I dont. That would be altering the course of
If you foresaw a persons death, would you tell him
Never, because that person needs to keep a fighting attitude.
What do you think of the Japanese TV fortune teller Kazuko
Ive seen her on many programs but, frankly speaking,
Im not impressed. I dont think its seriousthats
How can a person change his or her future?
Its simple. Spare ten minutes every day to meditate
and understand how and when things should be done. Then its
possible to change the future. Its about positive thinking
and having a healthy mind and body.
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