Things to Come (1936)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  14 September 1936 (UK)
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Reviews: 98 user | 73 critic

The story of a century: a decades-long second World War leaves plague and anarchy, then a rational state rebuilds civilization and attempts space travel.


(novel), (screenplay)
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Complete credited cast:
John Cabal / Oswald Cabal
Edward Chapman ...
Pippa Passworthy / Raymond Passworthy
The Boss
Margaretta Scott ...
Roxana / Rowena (as Margueretta Scott)
Maurice Braddell ...
Dr. Harding
Sophie Stewart ...
Mrs. Cabal
Derrick De Marney ...
Richard Gordon (as Derrick de Marney)
Ann Todd ...
Mary Gordon
Pearl Argyle ...
Catherine Cabal
Kenneth Villiers ...
Maurice Passworthy
Ivan Brandt ...
Morden Mitani
Anne McLaren ...
The Child
Patricia Hilliard ...
Janet Gordon
Charles Carson ...
Great Grandfather


A global war begins in 1940. This war drags out over many decades until most of the people still alive (mostly those born after the war started) do not even know who started it or why. Nothing is being manufactured at all any more and society has broken down into primitive localized communities. In 1966 a great plague wipes out most of what people are left but small numbers still survive. One day a strange aircraft lands at one of these communities and its pilot tells of an organization which is rebuilding civilization and slowly moving across the world re-civilizing these groups of survivors. Great reconstruction takes place over the next few decades and society is once again great and strong. The world's population is now living in underground cities. In the year 2035, on the eve of man's first flight to the moon, a popular uprising against progress (which some people claim has caused the wars of the past) gains support and becomes violent. Written by Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The future is here! See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 September 1936 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida Futura  »

Box Office


£300,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (VHS) | (premiere cut) | (original) | (cut) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Accurately predicts the scale and usage of large-format, flat-screen jumbo-tron style LCD TV screens. See more »


Near the end of the film, we hear the helicopter's rotor slowing almost to a stop while it's still descending at constant speed. See more »


Raymond Passworthy: Oh, God, is there ever to be any age of happiness? Is there never to be any rest?
Oswald Cabal: Rest enough for the individual man - too much, and too soon - and we call it death. But for Man, no rest and no ending. He must go on, conquest beyond conquest. First this little planet with its winds and ways, and then all the laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets about him and at last out across immensity to the stars. And when he has conquered all the deeps of space and all the mysteries ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, as the title is revealed, the shadow over the letters is removed as if the clouds in the background are blowing past it. See more »


Featured in War Stories (2006) See more »


Written by Arthur Bliss
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the great science fiction films
25 June 2005 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Things to Come is that rarity of rarities, a film about ideas. Many films present a vision of the future, but few attempt to show us how that future came about. The first part of the film, when war comes to Everytown, is short but powerful. (Ironically, film audiences in its release year laughed at reports that enemy planes were attacking England--appeasement was at its height. Wells' prediction was borne out all too soon.) The montage of endless war that follows, while marred by sub-par model work, is most effective. The explanatory titles are strongly reminiscent of German Expressionist graphic design. The art director was the great William Cameron Menzies, and his sets of the ruins of Everytown are among his best work. Margaretta Scott is very seductive as the Chief's mistress. The Everytown of the 21st century is an equally striking design. The acting in the 21st century story is not compelling--perhaps this was a misfired attempt to contrast the technocratic rationality of this time with the barbarism of 1970. Unfortunately, the model work, representing angry crowds rushing down elevated walkways, is laughably bad and could have been done much better, even with 30s technology. This is particularly galling since the scenes of the giant aircraft are very convincing. This is redeemed by Raymond Massey's magnificent speech that concludes the film--rarely has the ideal of scientific progress been expressed so well. Massey's final question is more relevant now than ever, in an era of severely curtailed manned spaceflight. The scene is aided by the stirring music of Sir Arthur Bliss, whose last name I proudly share.

Unfortunately, the VHS versions of this film are absolutely horrible, with serious technical problems. Most versions have edited out a rather interesting montage of futuristic workers and machines that takes us from 1970 to 2038. I hope a good DVD exists of the entire film.

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