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Based on H.G. Wells's speculative meditation on the price of progress, this 1936 English science-fiction epic shows the painterly touch of director William Cameron Menzies, an American whose career in art direction and production design, as well as uncredited directorial work, attached him to such visual triumphs as Gone with the Wind, Alexander Korda's sumptuous 1940 Thief of Baghdad, and Menzies's better-known SF achievement as director, the original Invaders from Mars. Things to Come traces a generational saga that begins, presciently, with a global war that outlives its own political purpose, unraveling society to a Balkanized world of isolated communities. In the wake of a subsequent, devastating plague, a new technocracy arises, evolving toward Menzies's striking vision of vast, subterranean cities, rendered in matte paintings building on then-contemporaneous art-deco "streamlined" aesthetics. Driven more by theme than plot, Things to Come lacks the sheer momentum of other Wells classics brought to film (The Invisible Man, War of the Worlds, and The Time Machine, among them); but Menzies's bold look and a strong cast including Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke and a young Ann Todd explain the film's enduring appeal.

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LEG421 Things To Come DVD (1936/Raymond Massey) $14.95 $13.49