Things to Come (1936)

One of the most important films in the development of science fiction genre

Along one hundred year, mankind lives a long period of war from 1940 to 1966; then a plague destroys half of the worldwide population; and finally a group of scientists reconstruct the society bringing progress. Each one of these eras is disclosed in the city of Everytown, in England: during the war, the city is completely destroyed. Then with the plague, the ill people called wanderings are killed by the survivors. One day, a weird airplane lands and the pilot tells that he belongs to a scientific community called Wings Over the World and their mission is to rebuild the societies, using a gas to make people peaceful. In 2036, in a modern Everytown, an opponent of the progress raises the population against the system. The film is based on the H.G. Wells book The Shape of Things to Come, which is more an essay than a novel.

Things To Come is one of the most important films in the development of science fiction genre. There were few pure sci-fi films in the 1930s, but Things To Come was one of the first, and it remains one of the best for its relevancy. Besides being a classic of the genre, it’s also one of the finest examples of screen Modernism. Growing up, I would check out the books on science fiction movies, the ones that came out in the 1980s like Twenty All-Time Great Science Fiction Films. I’d always find photos from this highly-regarded film depicting futuristic set designs. One of the most famous examples is the photo of the modern “Everytown”– an underground city with indoor, terraced apartments and glass elevator tubes. But society didn’t have to wait until 2036; by the 1970s, hotels had lobbies that looked like that! Things To Come is also one of the most challenging films to discuss in Screen Deco because its vision is both disturbing and inspirational. It’s a science fiction film that makes us think, and in our age of special effects, how many can do that?screendeco

Directed by: William Cameron Menzies
Starring: Raymond Massey, Edward Chapman, Ralph Richardson

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