#100 H.G. Well’s Things to Come (1936)

When there’s a war, it doesn’t affect just the people fighting in it but all of the country’s citizens and the country itself. It doesn’t matter at that point why or who started the war but how to survive it. This next film will give us a theoretical picture that science fiction author H.G. Wells pictured if/when the Second World War was to come. H.G. Well’s Things to Come is when a global war lasts for decades in which we see the fall and eventual rise of civilization.

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This brilliant science fiction film shows two conflicts that can come from war- whether or not we should succumb to the barbaric customs that war may bring and whether the rise in technology is for the good of humanity. We see the mid-1930s version of what the future will look like from the 1940s, the 1960s, the 1970s, until the year 2036 (can you believe that’s only 20 years from now?!). Airplanes are flying throwing poisonous gas, buildings are being blown apart, and a plague threatening civilization. Oh, the madness war can bring! I loved just how visually appealing this whole film is. The best kind of films, in my opinion, is the creativity to construct a whole new world. We see giant buildings and machines bigger than people. An entire metropolis for the scenes in the future which reminded me of the headquarters of Men in Black. The city of Everytown reminds me of Mount Olympus in how epic and historical the sets look. In Modern Times, we saw the conflict between man vs machine in how machines may have been made by men but have the potential to be smarter than humans and can take over our lives. Can that be good or bad?

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How ironic is it that while this film was meant to create a fantasy of what the second world war would be like when the war would come sixteen months later? It got some things right such as airplanes flying around dropping bombs below. And even the poisonous gas even though the Germans said the gas wouldn’t be used for military purposes. Even though H.G. Wells’s name is in the title, he actually had no control over the film. If it was up to him, there would be no resemblance to the classic sci-fi film Metropolis as he detested that film. Luckily, William Cameron Menzies disagreed with Wells’s opinion and used that film as inspiration for the futuristic society. It’s fascinating how their idea of the future is all in machinery whereas today, our depiction of the future is much more virtual. It looks like the film uses some version of virtual technology like the above image of seeing the city from your house or seeing a live handheld video recording. The importance of this film lies in both the visual scenery as well as the ambiguous message this film brings about the future.

Watch this Britain’s first science fiction film and comment what you think. For better quality, the film is also on Hulu: 

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