Wellington Scoop

Things To Come – the future viewed from 1936


News from Wellington Film Society
One of the most ambitious sci-fi films of its time, Things to Come (1936) was a collaboration between the great science fiction writer H. G. Wells, the British producer Alexander Korda, and designer and director William Cameron Menzies. The film society is screening it on Monday night.

“God damn you all. I told you so.” So H.G. Wells wished to be remembered on his epitaph, and while that may smack of hubris, it was borne out in reality with his science fiction novel The Shape of Things to Come predicting a world war and weapons of mass destruction. It was this novel which has been loosely adapted into William Cameron Menzies’ Things To Come.

Wells served as screenwriter on the film as well as being involved in the production. He wasn’t a fan of Fritz Lang’s vision of the future in Metropolis, going so far as to request the contrary for this film. That said, this film is particularly notable for its cinematic production design with avant-garde artists, architects and designers being consulted on how to present a world set in the year 2036.

The end result is considered in many quarters to be the first great science fiction film, bearing the fruits of a unique collaboration between Wells, the director and the iconic producer.

Added to this is a striking score by Arthur Bliss which remains a top-selling film soundtrack to this day. The cast is filled with such acting luminaries as Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke and Raymond Massey.

See it in all its spectacular glory on the big screen at the Embassy on Monday night at 6.15.

Restoration by the British Film Institute.

The film has been painstakingly restored from the remaining film elements and represents the most complete version known to exist. There are dramatic improvements in every single area. Detail and especially clarity are very good. The daylight footage, in particular, often looks spectacular, especially the larger panoramic shots. The nighttime footage also conveys surprisingly good depth. Colors never collapse. There is excellent balance between the grays and blacks. Furthermore, there is a layer of fine and well resolved grain throughout the entire film. More importantly, however, there are no traces of problematic lab tinkeing. Finally, occasionally there are tiny light vertical lines or very small scratches that pop up here and there, but it is quite obvious that enough was done to remove as many of them as possible without affecting the integrity of the film. A few minor transition issues are present as well, but again, considering the fact that different elements were used to assemble this version of the film, the final result is indeed enormously satisfying. Indeed, this is one truly fabulous restoration.