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star struck

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. It’s 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 as E.T.”

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. “It’s great to work with Steven because he is the greatest storyteller in the history of cinema.”

Spielberg said he doesn’t like to talk about his movies much. “The film does a better job than any distributor possibly could,” he said. “It’s 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 quite scary.

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 3.





 

Q&A

Raja Rajguru
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 what’s 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 of view.

What is your astrological method?
It’s called Jyotish and it’s 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 person’s past, present and future.

Do you get asked some strange questions?
Lots of women—from married women to schoolgirls—ask me if they will have another relationship in the future. It sounds to me like they just want to fool around. It hurts my feelings.

Can you predict an earthquake?
Yes, but I don’t. That would be altering the course of nature.

If you foresaw a person’s death, would you tell him or her?
Never, because that person needs to keep a fighting attitude.

What do you think of the Japanese TV fortune teller Kazuko Hosoki?
I’ve seen her on many programs but, frankly speaking, I’m not impressed. I don’t think it’s serious—that’s just TV.

How can a person change his or her future?
It’s simple. Spare ten minutes every day to meditate and understand how and when things should be done. Then it’s possible to change the future. It’s about positive thinking and having a healthy mind and body.

See www.e-future.net or email ratnasagarjapan@yahoo.com TF



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