Monday, May 13, 2013

Things to Come (1936)

It's Christmastime in Everytown, USA (London) and the world is on the brink of war. Unnamed foreigners with funny accents are threatening whatever values we hold dear. Despite this, rich guy John Cabal (Raymond Massey) is concerned. He somehow feels that world war is some kind of harbinger of disaster. His friends humor him.

Lucky for everyone, global war lasts only 26 years and society enters a golden age of feudalism that SCA geeks are so fond of. They even have their very own plague. Then our village is visited by a fancy man in an aero-plane who wears clean clothes (Raymond Massey). This spiffy owner of a hot wings franchise hails from a society of scientists and engineers and preaches peace. Rather than follow his inspirational words, Boss man (Ralph Richardson) locks him in the basement and tries to use his aero-plane to kill the people who infected them with the plague (not an altogether unreasonable idea).

The mechanic repairs an aero-plane and instead of bombing the evil Nazis (or whoever), he flies to the closest franchise of Wings Over the World and warn them so that they can bomb our war-ravaged Everytown. Bomb them with love. And sleeping gas that kills only one person. Guess who.

Now with all forms of war eliminated, Everytown is rebuilt into a marvelous shining city. A grand metropolis ... no, scratch that. It's a shining city. That's what I said.

But things aren't perfect in this future utopia. People grow tired of this peace and progress, and long of the days of pestilence and war. Ah, memories. Anyhow, the new big boss (Raymond Massey) decides what he needs to do is to send a rocket around the moon. Did I say rocket? Well, we all know that rockets are so primitive and barbaric. Instead they load a young couple into a giant bullet and fires them around the moon. Just think, it's 2036 and already they have the technology to shoot projectiles around the moon!

What a tedious disappointment. Images of the horrors of war are beaten over our heads while Massey preaches endlessly in all three parts of the film. It scores points because it is the second oldest feature film to show people travelling into space in a rocket (albeit fired from a gun), it's real close with it's prediction of World War II, and also some aspects of future life. Also, Richardson was great as the despotic warlord. However, this grand spectacle presents it's philosophy with all the subtly of a cannon ball.

You see, H.G. Wells hated Fritz Lang's Metropolis, what with it's dystopian view of the future, so he decided to tell the opposite story. The hands must do what the head tells them, and who invited the heart in the first place?

Well made, visually appealing, somewhat prophetic, kinda boring, and clumsy as all hell. AMRU 2.5.
"If we don't end war, war will end us."

No comments:

Post a Comment