A sprightly children's adventure, set in the land of the dead.
Roger Ebert's review of "War of the Worlds"
People invariably see what they want to see in movies – and some critics have wondered if there might be indirect references to Scientologist mythology in “War of the Worlds.”
Tom Cruise doesn't see it that way. He's dismissed questions about whether there are allusions in the film to doctrine from the Church of Scientology, the belief system of which he is a high-profile practitioner and proponent.
Cruise's fellow Scientologist John Travolta starred in 2000’s "Battlefield Earth," a space opera based on the book by science-fiction author and Scientology/Dianetics founder L. Ron Hubbard, but Cruise has said he does not see Hubbard’s influence in "War of the Worlds." (He and Spielberg acknowledged to the German magazine Der Spiegel, however, that a Scientology tent was indeed allowed on the set of the film, for any cast and crew members who were interested in learning more about the star's religion.)
Writer Gary Susman of the Boston Phoenix observed:
“Spielberg’s 'War of the Worlds' departs from all previous versions of the story by having the alien tripods emerge from underground, where they’ve lain dormant for eons, instead of arriving in spaceships. To me, that sounded like some aspects of Scientology lore. (Google ‘Xenu’ and see for yourself.)”
At a "War of the Worlds" press conference at New York’s Essex House hotel, Susman asked Cruise what relevance the movie had for him as a Scientologist, in that “some of the tenets of Scientology deal with the past of aliens on this planet.” Cruise replied, “It has no resonance whatsoever.” (Susman’s article is here: http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/movies/documents/04787290.asp.)
Cruise said he saw no comparison between the buried "War of the Worlds" aliens and the Scientology story of Xenu – a figure whose tale is revealed to Scientologists at the advanced Operating Thetan III level, according to church documents that have become public through legal actions taken against, or by, ex-devotees.
In Scientologist teachings, Xenu (about whom Hubbard himself eventually wrote a screenplay in 1977, called “Revolt in the Stars”), was said to be a galactic overlord who, when his rule was threatened 75 million years ago, enlisted renegades and psychiatrists to round up and and deport ("rendition"?) hundreds of billions of citizens from the severely overpopulated planets in his domain. (In H.G. Wells’ novel, the Martians come to Earth because their planet is overpopulated and dying.)
Xenu had these undesireables transported to Teegeeack (as Earth was then known) and packed them around volcanoes. He then attempted to exterminate them with hydrogen bombs, but their souls became “thetans” and attached themselves to the living. (This is known as “Incident II.”)
The ideas for the many “false religions” on Earth are explained to be the result of the mind-scrambling R6 implants that Xenu had put into these souls, who endured exposure to a brainwashing “three-D, super colossal motion picture” for 36 days – which, frankly, sounds more like the Spielberg-Cruise "Minority Report" than “WoW.” (See Wikipedia for a summary and links to more information and documentation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenu.)
ABC News has also run a story about the purported Scientology connections in "War of the Worlds," or the absence thereof: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/story?id=876503&page=1
A synopsis of "Revolt in the Stars" and related material by L. Ron Hubbard can be found at a web site in the Netherlands published by a group of organizations not affiliated with the Church of Scientology that aims to "bring back dianetics and scientology in a serene atmosphere (free from suppression)": http://www.ronsorg.nl/
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