DOWSE guide to the movies                                                                                         

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  Book Review


DOWSE Guide to the Movies
by Tony Lee editor of Pigasus Press

BFI Film Classics: Things To Come

Christopher Frayling
BFI Publishing chapbook, 83 pages 7.99
review by Steven Hampton

A milestone in British movies, and one of the great SF dramas, Things To Come may appear rather camp and wrongheaded today (with its gleaming 21st century futurescapes), but H.G. Wells' inspiring "film of imaginative possibility", his vision of a technocratic renaissance - no better example of science fiction's fabulous sense of wonder exists in all prewar cinema - saves this 1936 picture from any number of niggling predictive faults. Christopher Frayling certainly isn't blind to what recent history has done to Things To Come.
 Some of the film's plot looks dumb today but, as Frayling points out, its sincerity was never in doubt and there is still much to admire in the elegant designs, stirring martial score (which evokes the march of progress as well), and impressive montages depicting the automated erection of underground garden city, Everytown - an arresting "sequence of creative work and power."
 Frayling's meticulous research and fascinating rediscoveries (Wells' many 'testy' memoes attest to very difficult relationships - between HG himself and the filmmakers), ensure that this book is a surprisingly entertaining account of what the convergence of extraordinary talents can accomplish.

Steven Hampton
originally published in touchpaper #5 (C)1997

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