Things to Come

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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, Cedric Hardwicke, Pearl Argyle and Margaretta Scott.

Christopher Frayling of the British Film Institute calls Things to Come "a landmark in cinematic design."

Contents

Plot

Things to Come sets out a future history from 1936 to 2036. It is set in the fictional British city of 'Everytown' (based on London; a facsimile of St Paul's Cathedral is in the background).

Successful businessman John Cabal (Raymond Massey) cannot get into the festive spirit of Christmas Day, 1940, what with the ominous news of possible war. His guest Harding (Maurice Braddell) shares his worries, but over-optimistic friend Passworthy (Edward Chapman) believes it will not come to pass, or even if it does, it will do good by accelerating technological progress. A sneak bombing raid on the city that night results in general mobilization and global war.

Some time later, Cabal, now piloting a biplane fighter, shoots down a small, one-man enemy bomber. He then lands and pulls the badly injured enemy (John Clements) from the wreckage. As they dwell on the madness of war, they hurry to put on their gas masks, as the poison gas the pilot dropped drifts in their direction. When a little girl runs towards them, the wounded man insists she take his mask, saying he is done for anyway. Cabal takes the girl to his aeroplane, pausing to leave the doomed man a gun. The man dwells on the irony that he may have gassed the child's family and yet he has saved her. He then commits suicide.

The war continues for decades, long enough for the wretched survivors to have forgotten who the enemy was or the reasons for it in the first place. Humanity falls into a new Dark Age. The city is in ruins and there is little technology left, other than the small arms used to wage war. In 1966, a plague called the "wandering sickness" is spread by the unnamed enemy using its last few remaining aircraft. Dr. Harding and his daughter Mary struggle to find a cure, but with little equipment, it is hopeless.

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