Things to Come ★★★½

This was a pretty remarkable film to come out of Britain in 1936 and you have to give Wells credit for predicting the outbreak of WW2 here (although maybe not so much its duration!) as well as the conquest of the stars. There are some spectacular set pieces, especially given the age of this film, but also some sequences that seem to drag somewhat. The best is saved for 2036, with a streamlined, neo-classical vision of the future, recalling Plato as a blueprint for a kind of functioning version of the UN. I wish there was more of that; comparatively too long is spent in the post-war "dark ages" where high melodrama is the order of the day and the direction feels a little flat.

Like 2001, Things To Come is as much a meditation on human history as it is its future - Wells (who adapted the screenplay from his own novel) pits science against war, reason against tribalism and shows how man is chained by his colonial instinct to endless cycles of progress and atavism. The dialogue is none too subtle but Massey et al really throw themselves into their parts and the end result is still stirring and thought-provoking, especially in the last act as it builds to a crescendo with the firing of the 'Space Gun' - a foreshadowing of both the shuttle launch and man's nuclear future.

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