Tagline – What Will the Next Hundred Years Bring to Mankind?
Starring – Raymond Massey (John Cabal/Oswald Cabal), Edward Chapman (Pippa Passworthy/Raymond Passworthy), Ralph Richardson (The Boss), Margaretta Scott (Roxana/Rowena), Cedric Hardwicke (Theotocopulos).
Released – April, 1936
Directed By – William Cameron Menzies
Produced By – London Films Productions
Distributed By – United Artists Corporation
Description – A British science fiction film about the present and the future. In the British city of “Everytown,” businessman John Cabal is unable to enjoy this Christmas day as the threat of war has cast a dark cloud over the world.
John’s holiday guests, Dr. Edward Harding shares his concern, while Pippa Passworthy feels that it will not occur. Mr. Passworthy’s over-optimism is shattered by a bombing raid that evening and the breakout of global war.
John Cabal, now a pilot, shoots down an enemy bomber. He lands in the area of the bomber’s crash and tries to tend to the wounded enemy. As poison gas surrounds them, the pair put on gas masks and speak of the horror of war. A little girl passes in a daze and the wounded enemy gives her his mask accepting his own death.
John takes the girl to his plane and heads for safety. The war rages on for decades, taking a deadly toll, until the remaining people are mostly those born after the start of the war. There is desolation everywhere, and society has totally broken down. The only remaining hints of cities are groups of small primitive communities.
It is now 1966, and a great plague called the “wandering sickness” is spread by the enemies few remaining airplanes. With little medical equipment still in existence, a cure is hopeless. Four years pass and a warlord, known only as “The Boss,” has emerged as leader. His cure for the plague is to kill all those infected.
In May of 1970 a futuristic airplane lands, carrying John Cabal, announcing a new society called, “Wings Over the World.” They are rebuilding civilization and have renounced war and all independent nations.
However, The Boss is not ready to give up his power and authority. He takes John prisoner forcing him to help repair some remaining planes. One repaired plane is taken on a test flight, but the pilot heads for the location of the new society and tells them of John’s capture.
The people of “Wings Over the World” attack Everytown, killing The Boss and freeing John. The next few decades will provide a period of reconstruction. The people now live underground due to the poison air above them.
There is now hope for a new and peaceful society. That is until a revolution against progress begins to take root and the cycle of war begins again.
NOTABLE: The screenplay for Things to Come was written by H. G. Wells, and is an adaptation of his 1933 novel, The Shape of Things to Come.
Things To Come proved to be a prediction of the future as, in the film, war began on Christmas day 1940. World War II would start on September 1, 1939. Also, the depiction of poison gas used in the film was a very real fear during World War II.
Personal Note: Here is a poignant quote from the film made by character John Cabal, “If we don’t end war, war will end us.”
A fearful and sad sentiment that is still with us today.