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In the 2005 movie, how long was the invasion before the aliens died of our viruses? I've seen the movie once and I'm curious as to how long the aliens were on earth.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

In the 2005 "War of the Worlds" screenplay there's no canon explanation of the interval between the invasion and the first alien deaths from disease. It's merely described as;

"Voiceover : From the moment the invaders arrived, breathed our air, ate and drank, they were doomed. They were undone, destroyed, after all of man's weapons and devices had failed, by the tiniest creatures that God and his wisdom, put upon this earth."

In the original "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells, the chapter heading for Book 2 : Chapter 6 is headed 'The Work of Fifteen Days' and indicates the destruction wrought by the aliens in the two weeks of their initial invasion. Our hero finds his first dead alien two days later.

I see no reason to assume that the film-makers departed from this timeline.

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The action and pacing of the movie indicates a short timeline of only a week or two, so this does tally up. –  HorusKol Feb 23 at 22:42
    
In the film he's stuck in the cellar for "a couple of days" rather than two weeks. –  Richard Feb 23 at 22:59
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If the narrative of the film is to be believed roughly 72-96 hours (3-4 days) have transpired since the Tripods first broke through he ground in Jersey City and when Rachel and Ray arrive in Boston and see that they (the Tripods) are collapsing and their shields are failing.

How can this be determined?

  1. Ray's beard growth is almost non-existent in the time period from leaving New Jersey until he and Rachel arrive in Boston. Presuming that he didn't stop to take care of personal grooming (he certainly didn't change clothes) then the 72-96 hour time frame becomes more likely.
  2. The level of destruction - When Ray and Rachel reach Boston there is extensive damage but the city isn't completely leveled. Given the destructive capacity the Tripods demonstrated, any longer than a few days and the entire city (including his former in-laws home) should have been completely destroyed.
  3. The distance traveled - Boston is roughly 200 miles from the Metro New York City area. Even with their detour north of the city and their crossing the Hudson River well away from the city, traveling to Boston should have only taken perhaps 1-3 days.
  4. The cohesiveness of the military units shown - The soldiers encountered by Ray and Rachel were still fighting as coherent and coordinated units. After more than several days of battle, especially against a superior foe, the cohesion of the units should have broken down far more rapidly than shown.

While the H.G. Wells novel proposes that the events it relates happened over a fortnight, nothing in the film indicates that the entire affair lasted longer than 3-4 days at most.

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Hmm. You make a compelling point but... 1) We don't see him using the loo either 2) Other than the initial assault we don't see much city-bashing 3) Walking times may vary. We see them stop at least twice but then watching them walk for a week would be very dull 4) Military units have retained cohesion for months against a superior enemy (q.v WW2 Stalingrad) –  Richard Mar 7 at 20:37
    
1) I haven't see many films where characters go to the toilet. However, I have seen films where beard growth is an indicator time passage 2) The action mostly takes place outside the cities, but the reporter that they encounter regales of them of tales from other areas.3) Even walking times vary, they clearly were never headed AWAY from their planned direction thus their walking would have taken them towards their destination 4) Stalingrad was against HUMAN opposition, not aliens wielding superior technology –  Mistah Mix Mar 7 at 21:21
    
    
Not certain how self-edited site such as tvtropes is useful as a reference source. –  Mistah Mix Mar 7 at 21:55
    
I'm just saying that your results may vary if your plan is to date an episode/film by people's beard growth. Beards tend to grow at the speed of plot. –  Richard Mar 7 at 22:08
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