Things To Come

William Cameron Menzie’s film Things to Come is an adaptation of a novel by HG Wells.  Produced in 1936, this science fiction film explores England’s dystopic future that comes as a result of a devastating war, which is significant in the way that it accurately predicts World War II.  England first experiences a regression to the dark ages, which is followed by a period defined by obsession with progressions of technology.  Authoritarian leaders are in power during each of these eras.

Ironically, England’s regression comes as a result of too much progress, as advancements in weaponry cause mass destruction on a wide scale and medical advancements lead to the spread of a virus by the enemy which kills half of the world’s population.  This could be an exaggerated representation of the state of Germany after World War I.  The progress-obsessed regime which follows holds advancements in technology above human lives.  This is best exemplified in the scene which the attack by John Cabel’s followers leaves the “boss” of the old regime dead.  Cabel implies that one dead man means nothing in comparison to the new world of progress that will rise.  This disregard for human life is similar to that of Hitler, who believed in killing off whole races for the sake of progress.  While Hitler’s views were obviously much more extreme than those of Cabel, they both hold progress above individual lives.

Overall, the film warns against taking progress too far, as both severely flawed regimes come as a result of obsessions with it.

3 thoughts on “Things To Come

  1. The themes of progress in this film are very similar to those we saw in “Metropolis.” Both address the ways in which progress and technology can affect (negatively and positively) different populations. Due to the implications of these advancements, we tend to focus on the negative aspects, as does the film; however, technology does not always lead to authoritarian regimes.

  2. The film “Things to Come” shows a disregard of human life that can be viewed as a critique of eugenics, and the cultures that were developing in countries such as Germany at the time. The thought behind eugenics is that to further society, the weakest links must be eliminated, as they hold back the rest of the populous. In the movie we see the idea that the death of one man cannot be mourned because of the progress the rest of society makes. This can be see as a direct critique of eugenics because of the disregard it has for human life.

  3. I believe that this film demonstrates a general cultural shift that was taking place in many governments of the period. This cultural shift is manifested by a lack of attention to the individual, with full attention paid to the collective population. Many governments were ruling according to the principles of utilitarian philosophy. If one person must suffer and sacrifice for the greater good, than so be it. These regimes were only interested in the most good for the most amount of people. As a whole, they showed a complete disregard for the protection of rights and overall well-being of the minority.

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