Thursday, 4 March 2010

Things to Come

I happened to have enough time today to watch the majority of Alexander Korda's 1936 film THINGS TO COME. The screenplay was written by H. G. Wells and is adapted from two of his books; the novel THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1933) and the non-fiction work, THE WORK, WEALTH AND HAPPINESS OF MANKIND (1931).

The film starts with Europe apparently on the verge of an all out war.

The war starts when one side mounts a massive air attack using bombs and gas that devastates the centre of 'Everytown' (the capital of the unnamed country that is under attack, although the sight of what looks like St Paul's Cathedral in the background leave the viewer in no doubt that it is supposed to be London).

The war then degenerates into a brutal, bloody slogging match which is on an even greater scale than the fighting that took place during the First World War. This goes on for years, and only finally comes to an end when all the combatants are exhausted and civilisation is on the edge of extinction due to a plague that is called the 'wandering sickness'.

In 'Everytown' peace and order are restored by 'The Boss' or 'Chief', who then embarks on a military campaign to capture the coal mines that are currently under the control of the 'hill people' (probably an oblique reference to the Welsh).

It is this short section of the film that was of particular interest to me as the images seem to have been inspired by the sort of fighting that took place in the early 1920s in Russia. The whole look seems to suggest that the armies are very ill-equipped, and that most of their firepower is dependent upon rifles and machine guns.

6 comments:

  1. I believe Musketeer Miniatures do a 28mm miniatures of "The Boss".

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  2. Conrad Kinch,

    Really! I did not know that!

    I suspect that some of the 'Back of Beyond' figures would make a good starting point for modelling the army he leads, particularly the Russian figures ... but that is just an idea, not another project in the offing!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. "not another project in the offing"

    Once again with emotional content Cordery.

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  4. Dear Sir,
    I have appreciated this film since childhood. It seems primitive but has the "realistic" B&W look of English war films. Ahead of it's time, imaginative and starring the great Raymond Massey, yet unseen by most. Thanks for posting!

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  5. Conrad Kinch,

    I mean it ... I really do ... I do ... do I?

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Jubilo,

    Considering that it was made nearly 75 years ago, I think that it has stood the test of time very well indeed. By modern standards it may seem a bit stilted and the special effects look rather dated but at the time it was all very cutting edge.

    It is one of my all-time favourite films.

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. You are also right about Raymond Massey. He was a great film actor, and I have never seen him turn out anything approaching an average performance let alone a poor one.

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