H.G.Wells’ Things to Come (1936)
Things to Come (1936) is a British science fiction film produced by Alexander Korda and directed by William Cameron Menzies. The screenplay was written by H. G. Wells and is a loose adaptation of his own 1933 novel The Shape of Things to Come and his 1931 non-fiction work, The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind. The film stars Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, Margaretta Scott, and Cedric Hardwicke.
Christopher Frayling of the British Film Institute calls Things to Come “a landmark in cinematic design.”
* Raymond Massey as John Cabal/Oswald Cabal
* Edward Chapman as Pippa Passworthy/Raymond Passworthy
* Ralph Richardson as Rudolf a.k.a. The Boss
* Margaretta Scott (as “Margueretta Scott”) as Roxana Black/Rowena Cabal
* Cedric Hardwicke as Theotocopulos (replaced Ernest Thesiger)
* Maurice Braddell as Dr Edward Harding
* Sophie Stewart as Mrs Cabal
* Derrick De Marney as Richard Gordon
* Ann Todd as Mary Gordon
* Pearl Argyle as Catherine Cabal
* Kenneth Villiers as Maurice Passworthy
* Ivan Brandt as Morden Mitani
* Anne McLaren as Child (2036)
* Patricia Hilliard as Janet Gordon
* Charles Carson as Great-Grandfather (2036)
* Patrick Barr as World Transport official
* John Clements as Enemy pilot
* Antony Holles as Simon Burton
* Allan Jeayes as Mr. Cabal (1940)
* Pickles Livingston as Horrie Passworthy
* Paul O’Brien as Extra
* George Sanders as Extra
* Abraham Sofaer as Wadsky
* Terry-Thomas as Extra, man of the future
The film, written throughout 1934, is notable for predicting World War II, being only 16 months off by having it start on 23 December 1940, rather than 1 September 1939. Its graphic depiction of strategic bombing in the scenes in which Everytown is flattened by air attack and society collapses into barbarism, echo pre-war concerns about the threat of the bomber and the apocalyptic pronouncements of air power prophets. Wells was an air power prophet of sorts, having described aerial warfare in Anticipations (1901) and The War in the Air (1908).
The use of gas bombs is very much part of the film, from the poison gas used early in the war to the sleeping gas used by the airmen of Wings Over the World. In real life, in the build-up to the Second World War, there was much concern that the Germans would use poison gas, which they had done during the Great War. Civilians were required to carry gas masks and were trained in their use. When war did break out, however, the Germans did not use gas for military purposes.
Wings Over the World is based in Basra, in southern Iraq, from where it begins a new civilisation. Southern Iraq was also the home of one of the world’s first known civilisations, Sumer.
The single world government having engineers, scientist and inventors as the rulers mimics the ideology of the concept of Technocracy where those of the greatest skill and intellect in various vocations would be the leaders.