Things to Come (1936) | HG Wells’ classic sci-fi tale of a future Britain on Blu-ray

Things to Come (1936)

After The Invisible Man and Island of Lost Souls were adapted for the screen from his novels, HG Wells (pictured below) turned his hand to screenwriting for Alexander Korda’s ambitious film version of his labyrinthine 1933 novel, The Shape of Things to Come – a prophetic view of a future Britain spanning the years 1940 to 2036.

Things to Come (1936)

The story begins in 1940 with the opening of World War II and then shifts to 1970 where a desolated Everytown (looking like an Alan Moore inspired alternative London) is ruled over by Ralph Richardson’s cruel Boss. A pilot (Raymond Massey) then arrives with a peace gun and turns the city’s inhabitants into good citizens. Following a stunning montage sequence (the film’s highlight), the story shifts to 2036 in which Everytown has become a peaceful technological utopia controlled by a pompous ruler (Massey again) who wants to colonise the Moon. When a sculptor (Cedric Hardwicke) incites a riot by modern-day Luddites after pleading an end to progress, the rocket – manned by a modern-day Adam and Eve – is promptly launched ahead of schedule. The film ends with the ruler making a speech about man’s need to be the master of his own destiny.

Things to Come (1936)

Although it drags in places and didn’t set the box office alight on its original release, Things to Come remains one of the most important of all sci-fi films. While Wells’ visionary ideas now appear dated, it’s Vincent Korda’s art direction that’s the real reason to watch this film again. The wonderful abstract design of the gigantic sets and spectacular special effects make this vintage sci-fi’s visual splendor comparable only to the Fritz Lang’s ground-breaking Metropolis, which was filmed almost a decade previously. Director William Cameron Menzies later worked on another innovative sci-fi, 1953’s Invaders from Mars.

The 2012 Special Edition Blu-ray from Network presents a new version of Things to Come, restored from the remaining film elements, making it the most complete version to date. Special features include the 25min documentary On Reflection, in which Brian Aldiss discusses HG Wells, 1975 interview with Ralph Richardson, audio commentary with expert Nick Cooper, The Wandering Sickness 78rpm recording, booklet, trailer and stills gallery.

Things to Come is on Blu-ray and DVD, and also screens at BFI Southbank on 21, 23, 25 and 29 October as part of the Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder season


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on October 20, 2014, in British Film, Classic, Must See, Must-See, Sci-Fi and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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