Future Tense

Aug 6, 04:46 by IROSF
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Article can be found here.
Aug 6, 14:12 by b. lynch black
wow! great article, dan. i am also a big fan of "Things to Come" having seen it on PBS quite a while ago. and, like you, i love the complexity of not liking the "hero"... your essay points out that the same complex issues face us today as our society is divided between those who want to go forward with space exploration and those who feel we need to "take care of things at home."
Aug 6, 14:49 by Nader Elhefnawy
I just saw the film for the first time a few months ago, and must agree: good piece here on a film that deserves more attention, if only because The Shape of Things to Come is such an important work in Wells's canon (and again neglected by most scholars, as I found when working on my dissertation), and its importance to the history of the genre in cinema. As drama it is admittedly problematic, but I thought the 1960s-era section held up surprisingly well on that level, and on a technical level--I remember seeing a small bit of it many years ago and being astonished that a film like this was made back in 1936.
And it really is regrettable that a better, more complete print isn't available.
Aug 6, 17:07 by Nancy Beck
I was reading through your article, getting to the part where you talk about King Kong, etc., thinking: What about Shape of Things to Come? But, of course, that's the one you ultimately talk about, so I was apparently thinking along the same lines.

Unfortunately, I've never seen it, but I have a slew of movie books, and one of those books (I believe it's United Artists) had a decent review of it. (At least I think that's the studio that released it in the U.S., since I think one of the Kordas had a seat on UA's board).

It's a shame so many really good films fall into disrepair (I have a DVD of My Man Godfrey, and the print is awful).

~Nancy
Aug 7, 01:34 by Robert Lee
I dunno, I've seen Things To Come several times over my lifetime as a movie geek, and if I had to say why it's mostly forgotten today, that would involve gainsaying your review, here. It's not a very good movie to begin with, it hasn't held up well, and the "Hats off to technocracy!" message kinda went south for most people after the *real* WWII happened.

If I were going to throw a mostly-forgotten ringer in my top five pre-1950s SF movies, I think I'd have to go with Just Imagine. Not only is it the first SF feature from a Hollywood studio, but it's full of pre-code gay humor and slights against Henry Ford's anti-semitism. *And* it's full of dance numbers...even though they're all kinda crap and have nothing to do with the movie.
Aug 11, 06:55 by Daniel M. Kimmel
Just got back from Denvention (the World Science Fiction Convention) and am catching up. Thanks for those who liked the essay. (And my new book on romantic comedies includes a chapter on "My Man Godfrey," one of my favorites.)

As for the person who prefers "Just Imagine," which I've seen twice, I'll say it's a matter of taste. I find "Just Imagine" a curio that has a few interesting moments but is largely embarrassing to watch today, particularly the supposed comic stylings of the mercifully forgotten "El Brendel."

But opinionated as I am, I believe that anyone who has seen a film is entitled to their own opinion of it. :)
Aug 12, 21:57 by Robert Lee
Like I said, I was picking a largely-forgotten weirdie, and yeah, a lot of JI falls pretty flat.

"And my new book on romantic comedies includes a chapter on "My Man Godfrey," one of my favorites."

I love both versions, although the '36 Powell and Lombard movie is preferable in a pinch. Weirdly enough, I already had I'll Have What She's Having saved in my list of upcoming books to get, and didn't make the connection when I read your piece here. I got my earliest education in movies watching old ones with my mom and sister, and have been left with a great big lifelong love of what are sometimes sniffed at as "chick flicks." How could I not want to read that book?
Aug 13, 01:10 by Jim Belfiore
Thanks, Dan, for agreeing to be a part of (and linking to) Episode I of "Star Critic".

I've been wrapping up editing on some of the other segments, and I have to say, I need to put you on the spot more often. ;-)

Aug 29, 16:08 by Michael Andre-Driussi
I don't think "Things to Come" is a crypto-fascist film, but I sense that Hitler himself must have loved it.

Lately I have been mulling over a comparison of the British "Things to Come" (1936) with the American "Meet John Doe" (1941). The British film seems to say democracy is a luxury that cannot be afforded in the post-apocalyptic world. The American film fears Hitlerism coming in the form of Populism, with secret capitalist backing--this in a country reshaped by FDR for eight years out of an eventual 12 years. The internally directed paranoia is stunning--Trust Government, Question Grass Roots Movements, and Hate the Domestic Enemy. It is like a Red-Scare film, but not directed at communists.

The strange myopia. The British clearly saw the war coming and were right on that, but their fictional solution was disturbingly Hitlerian. The Americans engaged in an exercise in Orwellian thought policing, and yet by year's end they were involved in the real war against Germany and Japan. Bad timing, that.
   

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