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Things to Come (1936) - William Cameron Menzies

Related: science fiction film - 1936

Things to Come (1936) - William Cameron Menzies


Things to Come is a 1936 science fiction film, produced by Alexander Korda and directed by William Cameron Menzies. It is loosely based on the novel The Shape of Things to Come, by H. G. Wells.

Wells had a degree of control over the project that was unprecedented for a writer, and personally supervised nearly every aspect of the film. Posters and the main title bill the film as "H. G. Wells' THINGS TO COME," with "an Alexander Korda production" appearing in smaller type.

The film is notable for its graphic depiction of strategic bombing in scenes where London is flattened by air attacks and society collapses into barbarism. In one memorable scene, a dignitary's importance is shown by the fact that he still gets to ride in an automobile-but the automobile is of necessity drawn by a horse. This echoes pre-war concerns about the threat of the bomber and the apocalyptic pronouncements of air power prophets. Wells was also an air power prophet of sorts, having described air war in Anticipations (1901) and The War in the Air (1908), to say nothing of "atomic bombs" in The World Set Free (1914).

The score, written by Arthur Bliss, was an integral part of the film. Wells originally wanted the music to be recorded in advance, and have the film constructed around the music, but this was considered too radical and the music was fitted to the film in a more conventional way. A concert suite drawn from the film has remained popular; as of 2003 there are about half-a-dozen recordings of it in print.

Christopher Frayling of the British Film Institute calls Things to Come "a landmark in cinematic design." The special effects, while crude by today's standards, are visually powerful. Particularly notable is the sequence showing the rebuilding of Anytown. For over five minutes, we watch scenes of mysterious machines performing mysterious engineering works, accompanied and in many cases synchronized to the Arthur Bliss score. It all looks so purposeful and makes such wonderful visual sense that it is fascinating to watch. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Things_to_Come [Feb 2005]

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