Today we are going back, very very far back, nearly 100 years (ok more like 80) to 1936 with ‘Things to Come’ a British black and white science fiction film ( a lot of my sci fi reviews are going to be black and white). This film is based on a work by H.G Wells “The shape of things to come” It tells a fictitious set of events covering 100 years into the future, and at times, gets disturbingly and unsettlingly close to reality
First up, for people commenting about last year and a continued trend this year, I’m fairly sure everyone who worked on this film is dead, (people you need to get used to that sort of thing cause in about 10 years time chances are a lot of voices you see on repeats will be from people no longer around), you may think I’m going off topic but the film is about a vision of the future thus can I not make my own?
As mentioned the film covers a fictitious passage of time over a possible 100 years into the future, splitting between certain points in time, with major passages of time being broken up by montages showing development or degradation. All major story sections are set around one location in time, the fictitious but bluntly named Everytown in England.
The first section is in 1940 around Christmas. The country is unsettled as there are rising tensions in Europe this then soon bursts out into war. This really unsettled me as they were 1 year off what actually happened, though the dialogue makes it clear though not out right said that they were referring to Hitler. You then see air raids on Everytown as people run away in panic and into shelters (yeah this bit really unsettled me as that meant people back then knew what was most likely coming).
We then get the first montage break, showing the development of technology as the war continues much longer than our own fortunately did, new tanks rolling out and clips showing even the soldiers were fed up of killing one another on both sides all the while both sides claim they are close to victory.
Victory never came though as in the next small story section we learn that instead of a nuke their weapon of mass destruction was a deadly viral weapon called “the walking plague” (basically zombie virus before that was a thing and long before it was ground into the dirt by repeated use) and we find a man desperately trying to find a cure in the makeshift hospital. This is where sadly missing footage is, but I don’t feel its absences damages the film too much.
We sadly find out through the next time progression that there was no cure discovered, half the world population died out and what remained devolved into various war lords all trying to reclaim old technology for their own claim to power (not full Mad Max levels though). Here we see the rise then of a sort of benevolent dictatorship by a group of airmen and scientists that retained their technology and sought to reunite the world which they succeed in doing. The next time montage being much more optimistic as we see new developments in living as man progresses not through war but technological development.
It is very welcoming to see after all the war and degeneration of civilisation the final section is much more optimistic with man in a technological age looking to go into space, though the film predicted warfare and horror, it saw in the end man would survive and prosper.
As mentioned this is a very old film, special effects are more done through models and, they aren’t half bad, its aged surprisingly well. But then not having too much of outlandish developments (such as no aliens and such) special effects aren’t pushed too far as the age doesn’t hamper it. Watching this though it felt at moments more like a play, you could imagine them on stage saying things rather than in a studio, I do suspect that was because it was the early days of talking cinema.
The film early on I found deeply unsettling, though not to its detriment, given how close it predicted actual events, World War 2 and how it ended through use of a deadly potentially world ending weapon. Throughout the film it has the same actors play different roles through the time settings, this doesn’t hamper it at all as its safe to assume that they are descendants of that first person. It is definitely a unique look at science fiction that for me came out of nowhere as I got this as a Christmas present. I recommend this as not only is it enjoyable as science fiction but an interesting look into the past and how they perceived what we would be like (shows just how much computers changed the development of man).
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