Thursday, February 08, 2007

Things to Come (1936)

Things to ComeThis 1936 science fiction thriller was written by H.G. Wells and is based on his 1933 book The Shape of Things to Come. It documents the destruction of "Everytown" which is decimated during the Christmas of 1940 when a massive war is launched. The fighting persists for decades, fracturing civilization into tiny, frightened communities. A man known as "The Boss" takes control of Everytown, but is threatened by a stranger who flies in from the outside. He helms a society called "Wings over the World" whose aim is to unite all humanity with science. After the Boss and the Stranger clash, science prevails and succeeds in consolidating the warring communities. After achieving this the new society constructs a controversial space program and prepares for their first flight.

In addition to predicting something eerily similar to World War II and the first moon landing, the set design is impressive, giving a not-so-subtle nod to Fritz Lang and the plot is restless and smart. Much to my surprise, this film has aged extraordinarily well, rarely drifting into didacticism. Although this is undoubtedly a "message movie" it's neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but succeeds in being realistic.

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