Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wings Over the World

H.G. Wells' Things to Come (1936; Wells' screenplay based on his 1933 novel, The Shape of Things to Come; directed by William Cameron Menzies; produced by Alexander Korda, London Films) proceeds through a terrifying combination of WWII and WWIII to the year 2036. Civilization is reduced to barbarism, then rises again -- thanks to a "rational dictatorship" of scientists -- in Basra, Iraq: Wings Over the World!

Seen from the perspective of 2008, the film is alternately cheesy, eerie, and chilling. The gigantic sets are impressive, the weapons of mass destruction dropped from the air (poison gas a la WWI, or nerve gas) as creepy now as it probably was when first watched.

Wells' worldview boils to the surface of each new plot development. Only rational scientists (presumably all white Anglophiles) can keep humankind from degenerating into atavism. (Of course, scientists created the destructive technology as well, but that's different!) The real Basra in the 1930s housed a British air base securing the area for petroleum exports; Basra in 2008 has British overwatch (again). After taking into account ideological bent and historical context, it's still quite an interesting take on the shape of things.

Poster for Spanish version: La Vida Futura. Released a year before the Nazi air attack on Guernica, Spain, and four years before the London Blitz. Imperial Japanese troops were already rampaging through Manchuria. And let's not forget the Great Depression (how could, we these days?)

La Vida Futura of the cat walk. What is past is present is future.

Yesterday's Rune: Growth. Today's: Strength.


Bubs said...

I like "La Vida Futura" that has a nice ring to it. It sounds festive.

the walking man said...

You know I have learned to trust science reluctantly Erik. But as for scientist lead world...nope that is just to ugly to contemplate. Even when compared to the current state of affairs the world over.



Charles Gramlich said...

THe shape of things to come was a much better book than it was a movie.

Lana Gramlich said...

The more things change the more they stay the same, truly...