I finally got round to seeing this and am ashamed that I left it so long. This is what the golden age of cinema is all about. Based on the legendary sci-fi classic by H.G. Wells who also wrote the screenplay, this is set originally in 1940 and an unidentified enemy is about to unleash war on 'Everytown' which is a substitute for London ' complete with the Underground. This was released in 1936 when the Germans were helping the fascist Franco unleash a wave of terror on Spain and air raids on Guernica not to mention what was unfolding in China. As the scenes of aerial bombardment begin they are strangely prophetic of what is to befall London within five years, so the impact of this can only be imagined on the audience with the benefit of hindsight.
I was gob smacked at how accurate it was. The Characters in this surround John Cabal (the absolute legend that is Raymond Massey) who is a spirited pacifist and the coterie of inhabitants. Once the war comes it does not stop. The film is set in three time zones, the initial out break of the war and then taking us through decades of fighting, where mankind is quite literally bombed back to the dark ages. Then we hit 1966 and with the ending of everything except aggression, medicine is all but non existent and a strange plague befalls the Earth, this is 'The Wandering Sickness' and as the previously mentioned Dark Ages, this is like the Black Death and wipes out half of humanity. Everytown is now in ruins but is used as a microcosm of what is taking place in the rest of the World.
Soon the disease burns itself out and what emerges and dictatorial leaders that rule their fiefdoms, in this case it is Rudolph, played completely over the top by the marvellous Ralph Richardson who is now at war with neighbouring tribes. The future comes in the shape of a strange aeroplane which leads us on to the final of the three parts of the film and the existentialist dilemmas of progress versus contentment.
This is visually stunning especially given when it was made, depending on the version you get, the sound quality is a bit dated too, but a fully restored version is available which is umpteen times better, so if you are buying then that is the one to go for. There are some brilliant touches in this, almost iconic shots, such as the child buried under the rubble, the cinema blowing up, the Rolls Royce being pulled by horses and the scenes of the future where fashion has been lost along with old world architecture ' marvellous.
This is for all serious fans of cinema and especially those with an interest in the history of cinema, I was transfixed and I know this will be one of those rare films that stay with me for a long while I utterly recommended.
Starting with the year 1940, we are given insight to how humankind progresses or regresses due to the inevitable war that lasts for decades. Will mankind ever learn to live in peace or are we destined to destroy ourselves watch this movie as you are about to see "THINGS TO COME."
Usually when a film is colorized, it distracts from the ambience that was designed in a black-and-white environment. However, in this case it actually adds to the viewing enjoyment. The colors are not overwhelming and it looks like this film was originally meant to be colorized. However, for purists the black-and-white version is also included.
For those people that actually have read HG Wells you will find that this film is not too far left field from his original thoughts. Much of HG Wells' works shows that he has some sort of a techno-fascist who believes that scientists and engineers were designed to rule the world. Raymond Massey who makes great speeches; you might remember him from Ayn Rand's the Fountainhead. In this film he states "and now for the rule of the air man and a new life for mankind." Another of Raymond Massey's speeches ends with "all the universe or nothing."
Special features -
Interview with Ray Harryhousen
Colorization process with Ray Harryhausen
Ray Harryhausen Bio and Filmography
Classic sci-fi Toy commercials
Legend film trailers
Wow , everyone that is entertained by older movies , whether sci-fi oriented or not , should see this piece of history. From a story , written in 1933 , by H.G. Wells , who also wrote the screenplay, it was filmed in 1936. It is uncannily prophetic of WWII. First half involves the descent into a state of senseless war , then the second half involves the amalgamation of the survivors into a society that aspires to jump into space. Some of the sets remind me of scenes in " Logans' Run " . Raymond Massey stars as the main character as he traverses the various stages. It is a must see classic , in Glorious Black & White.
on February 3, 2013
Here we have a film made in the 30's during the start of talkies..which really was the advent of a new medium
talking movies. In a previous film treatment the King who Was A KIng..which was never made but issued as a novel..the writer talks of love interest, how romance is a central element of any film made. It heightens our interest but the characters in this film are sesexualized, it appears at times as an old greek drama in which the characters engage in conversation not exactly table talk? That was a criticism of the time, that the characters dont personally engage and that may be purposeful. The author was famous for love interests in his novel, but here wants to concentrate on a future society, and the cities people will dwell in and what that city life will be like in a future globalized society. That global society is seen in this new mass media, the talking film, which makes EVERYTOWN possible.
EVERYTOWN! The talking film makes every city exactly the same, and the future younger generation is contrasted with
the older generation, those who read old books, those of medieval culture, the cultured elite at times blissfully and attractively drawn in the novels of anthony trollope, in which the females espouse often and resonate with the culture of the past, as opposed to this new world of sterile cities..as sterile as the scientific elite who people them. That is this future world..after wars and the plague, "wandering sickness" the film which is based on the text of The Shape of things to Come..which although marketed as science fiction..is really more like Tofler's Future Shock or Al Gore's recent book..a discussion of the politics and economics and science..and the values of future society. Themen and women dont seem to gel and seem at odds in this film, about the future world they want to live in, and their is a fight for control among the warringtribes..the last vestige of medieval society as seen in the boss..who controls the justice system..and society..to the eventual control by the scientists of future times. The film is a science fiction classic although at the time it fared badly in the U.S>..and the characterization may have hampered its lack of popularITY. It is enjoyable as a classic film, the future of cities in a global world, which is here now and controlling all our lives today, where the town you live in is EVERYTOWN, all cultures are similar, exert control on each other, effect your wages..and effect you in a very significiant way..however is this utopiua?
A review contemporaneous with this film by the author of a film I looked at yesterday(A Gun For HIre)..found the beginning exciting and the future the opposite of heaven. He later reviewed the equally ambitious american film Columbia's buddhist like LOst Horizon which may be a reaction, and was successful in the U.S. (a credit to Columbia and the marketing by its boss)..the author as the early scenes in the film show, was medieval for all his supposed modernism, in his personality, including many friendships and ideas,,as the phrase "traitor to civilization" shows in the film...and this kind of medieval persona is contrasted with the future scientific elite dramatized at the end in the fight to the stars and colonization in space, and talk of the current younger generation..how different they are from the generations of the past? How different indeed! However the puissant revioew is in fact correct, heaven is externalized as future people will be conditioned by future society..and what about those early medieval like christmas scenes with kids and wife..and christmas tree..the author's medieval personality..in defense it should be stated the script was severely cut..making the final result a hodge podge of original intentions..and the reviews and opinions of many made him hostile to the producers Korda in later years..but thats the price of writing for a movie company?
The early christmas scenes..plague..pestilence..the development of modern cities..globalism..and the race to the stars..there is much in this film although it exists in abbreviated form and we should keep that in mind..and it helps any film rather than cut and excise here and there and patch a product together..to film a script ine entirety..but who has such control. This film should be viewed with other landmarks as Metropolis, 2001 a space odyssey, Contact, star trek the motion picture..star trek the UNdiscovered Country..and all the WE's in this latest film..like Zamyatin's WE
on March 25, 2013
This is a profound film for several reasons, it predicts WW-2, modern warfare, including nukes-chemical and biological warfare. It was terrifyingly accurate and omniscient of Wells to produce, it was released in 1936...three years before WW-2! This is almost as profound as Jules Vernes earlier 1863, (but only recently made public in the 1990s) pessimistic vision "Life In 20th Century Paris." He predicted a heartless isolated materialistic and unequal society. All ages of people should watch historically significant films like this. 5 stars-it's H.G.Wells !