As I watched WotW, I recalled the original version from 1953 (which no, I didn’t see in 1953, but years later on tv when I was hooked on watching Saturday afternoon horror movies, eventually Elvira’s program). My memory on the original is a bit cloudy, but the sense I was developing from the new version was that it was more focused on the characters rather than on action. The plot’s the same, alien invasion and a father’s protection of his kids (beautiful woman/1953) by hiding out in a demolished cellar. The aliens are of course a bit more believable and a bit more mechanical through new media methods of production. But while the 1953 version has a lot of folks running around screaming and a more active movement, the 2005 version seems to zoom in on tears welling up in the eyes of Tom Cruise or closeups of him hugging his daughter.
In the old movies, fear on a character’s face was just a step above the original silent movie style of registering overly dramatic responses since words could not project the story, aside from an occasional insertion of text. The advent of sound increased comprehension by a lot of screams and noise and background music that specifically enhanced the action by building tension with louder or more ominous sounding notes and of course, by the dialogue between the characters.
It’s an interesting evolution in entertainment, where we’re geared to watch the twitch of a Cruise eyebrow to know how to respond.