Calling Fritz Lang's 1927 vision of the future, METROPOLIS, "balderdash", H.G. Wells, a socialist and a Utopian, had an opportunity in 1936 to ply his own progressive views in William Cameron Menzie's THINGS TO COME.
The movie was largely controlled by Wells, who co-wrote the script based on two of his novels, "Things to Come" and "The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind". His original title was the fanciful, "Wither Mankind?".
|On the set of THINGS TO COME. From L to R, H.G. Wells, Margaretta Scott,|
Raymond Massey played Oswald Cabal, who had a pessimistic, cautionary view of the near future. "If we don't end war, war will end us", he proclaims. Ernest Thesiger was cast as sculptor Theotocopulos, but was dropped by Wells as being "unsuitable" for the role. He was replaced by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. In his unpublished memoir, "I Was", Thesiger explained:
"“Eventually in December my call came and I did eight days work completing all my scenes. Then in January I received a charming letter from H.G. beginning with some very flattering references to my performance in the ‘Man Who Worked Miracles’ and going on to say that when he had first devised ‘Things to Come’ he had visualised my part as an El Greco but that he had made a mistake - the artist ought not to be the sensitive type as he had first seen him, but a more robust person - more of a Benvenuto Cellini and that the part was now going to be played by someone else. ‘You never liked the part anyhow,’ he added, with a few more consolatory remarks about my ‘artistry which was not in doubt.’ So after drawing a comfortable salary for six months, I had nothing to show for it. People envied me for earning money so easily, but I would always much rather be working, even at a smaller salary than is earned on the films than disappear from view as completely as I did that summer.”THINGS TO COME was magnificently produced by the Hungarian-born Alexander Korda, who, for the time, fashioned a film with Wells along with a bevy of avant-garde artists and designers that was both startling and prescient. For example, in one scene we see the image of a bomb going off in a battlefield, first as a fireball, then forming into a mushroom cloud. The year of the scene? 1945!
Presented today is an excerpt from THE MONSTER TIMES #1 (26 January 1972), that tells the tale. Written with keen insight by the prolific Allan Asherman, we are forced to pause and think, Could something like this still be in our future? With the way things are going in these seemingly unstable times, we can only hope that the road to a better future will not be paved in the blood of millions.
Something to think about in the coming year.