Still Watching the Skies: Episode 117 “Things to Come”

Cody, Robert, and Nat discuss progress, peace, security, and war with 1936’s THINGS TO COME.

THINGS TO COME was conceived of as an adaptation of H.G. Wells’s The Shape of Things to Come and as a reaction to METROPOLIS. H.G. Wells adapted his own book to the screen, albeit the final form is apparently quite different from the initial conception.

Things to Come

Released in 1936, the film opens at Christmas 1940 in Everytown, England (a clear stand-in for London) with the world on the brink of war. What follows is a foretelling of the London Blitz and roughly the next century of humanity as a World War rages as the powers of the world exhaust themselves in war.

What follows is a pandemic, as the Wandering Sickness kills off half the remaining population turning them into virtual zombies. Maybe medicine would have stood a chance. Although most likely the decision to just shoot the sick dead would always have been on the table.

What follows is a return to feudalism as tinpot tyrants, in this case the Chief (Ralph Richardson) take control. Civilization seems to have been set back centuries. At least until the arrival of a seemingly futuristic force arrives to set humanity on track again.

Things to Come

Finally, the last third moves into a utopia of the future. But progress vs. safety and security are still concerns.  And there are still dissenting voices.

Wells conceived of THINGS TO COME as a conversation rather than a story with a tidy moral conclusion. Did he succeed?  Or did the storytelling establishment create that tidy ending regardless? And what do we make of the themes and ideas?

Wells also disliked METROPOLIS and considered this a rebuttal. How successful a rebuttal was it?

As you can tell we have a lot to discuss in this episode.

No need to rebuild civilization to listen to this episode. You can give us a play below or download the episode. Also, feel free to let us know what you think by commenting on our page at Facebook or you can Email Us at as we appreciate feedback.

Things to Come

Time tracks:
0:00:00 – THINGS TO COME Discussion
57:50- Next Movie and Outro

Next month, we jump ahead nearly 50 years to 1984’s 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT.  It’s directed by show favorite Peter Hyams and is a sequel to one of the greatest science fiction films ever so we expect a very entertaining episode. We hope you’ll join us.

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