An Uneasy Relationship Pt.2
Furthermore, having now read the H.G. Wells source, it’s possible to see how very little of the original sentiments are present in the musical version. The novel is so much harsher, bleaker and colder. The narrator suffers an interminable spell of weeks alone and with a priest, eats nothing but moss and ends up bloodied. The narrator in Wayne’s version smacks the priest on the head, absolves himself quickly of any blame and pushes on within the hour. Similarly, only the themes of civilisation’s descent into vaguely ordered anarchy make an appearance in a terribly simplistic fashion. The complex notions of this premise are much more detailed in Wells’ vision, as are themes of familial discontent and the nature of loneliness on a personal and interplanetary level.
The ending of the Jeff Wayne version is just awful, complete bollocks of such intense magnitude, shite with the most indelible smears. Really. If you haven’t heard it, don’t rush out, but allow me to describe it. The war has been won by the humans (more by accident than endeavour), and we are now hearing an earth-led space mission to take photographs of the Martian surface. Everything seems to be going well, the crackly radio voices are atmospheric and tell us that we’re being fed back some striking pictures. Alas, as is always the cliché, things go wrong and we begin to hear the familiar Martian octave-leap drones that earlier meant your barn was going to be set alight. We lose transmission, the Martians are back, we’ll probably die.
What’s ridiculous about this scenario is that there appears to be no recollection of what happened at the turn of the previous century. Surely someone must’ve consulted a history book (or how about LIVING FUCKING MEMORY?!) and thought “well, I should imagine that, seeing as we got shat on quite badly last time, we might want to avoid Mars for at least a few thousand years, yeah?”. Come on.
But still, I want to listen to it quite often, and usually in one epic sitting. Might I be clouded by my childhood impression? Everything I’ve learnt about music tells me I should discard this hellishly misjudged record as an insult to Wells’ original, but there’s a desire there on my part, and I’m very confused by it. Should I just accept that I love it and buy the computer game version? Or should I stick to my critical guns and purge myself of it safe in the knowledge that I’ve done the right thing, intellectually? I imagine I’ll wrestle with this problem for some time, possibly until I finally give up and listen to it six times a day in slippers, gradually believing it to be a true story and move into the attic, frightened to confront the inevitable coming of extra-terrestrials. If any priests come near me I’ll shit them up.
So I don’t know what to do about it. I think, logically, I should put it away until I can’t stand life without it any more, then the rush of pleasure might be enough to kill me. Then I won’t have to worry about it again.