War of the Worlds draws elements not only from the H. G. Wells novel, but also the 1938 radio play
and the 1953 film. Hence, to place this film in proper historical context as an adaptation requires some knowledge
of all three previous incarnations of Wells' story.
As in the original novel, which takes place in and around London, the narrative is told
from the point of view of civilians caught up in the conflict. Whereas the novel portrayed the experience
of a solitary British journalist late in the 19th century, War of the Worlds is, according to Spielberg, purported to show the war
"through the eyes of one American family fighting to survive it". It is set in the early 21st century,
and as in the radio play begins in New Jersey. Part of the movie was filmed in the Newark, New Jersey Ironbound District.
The scene in which the alien first appears from the hole in the ground was shot on Ferry Street.
Filming in Newark was reportedly cancelled due to the noisy environment and prospect of storefront
owners losing business from the closed off set. Main parts of the film was shot in Bayonne, New Jersey,
with the Bayonne Bridge being destroyed.