660 Things to Come

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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kinjitsu
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660 Things to Come

#1 Post by kinjitsu » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:15 pm

Things to Come

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A landmark collaboration between writer H. G. Wells, producer Alexander Korda, and designer and director William Cameron Menzies, Things to Come is a science fiction film like no other, a prescient political work that predicts a century of turmoil and progress. Skipping through time, Things to Come bears witness to world war, disease, dictatorship, and, finally, utopia. Conceived, written, and overseen by Wells himself as an adaptation of his own work, this megabudget production, the most ambitious ever from Korda’s London Films, is a triumph of imagination and technical audacity.

Disc Features

• New, restored high-definition digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Audio commentary featuring film historian and writer David Kalat
• New interview with writer and cultural historian Christopher Frayling on the film’s design
• Film historian Bruce Eder on Arthur Bliss's musical score
• New visual essay by film historian Bruce Eder on Arthur Bliss’s musical score
• Unused special effects footage by artist László Moholy-Nagy, along with a video installation piece by Jan Tichy incorporating that footage
• Audio recording from 1936 of a reading from H. G. Wells’s writing about the Wandering Sickness, the plague in Things to Come
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien

Orlac
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Re: 660 Things to Come

#2 Post by Orlac » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:30 pm

A David Kalat commentary? YES!!!!

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Tommaso
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Re: 660 Things to Come

#3 Post by Tommaso » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:36 pm

Yeah, great. For some reason I never got around to buying the UK edition, so this one it finally must be. Especially as it comes put early enough to be had in the next B&N sale.

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Jeff
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Re: 660 Things to Come

#4 Post by Jeff » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:49 pm

Orlac wrote:A David Kalat commentary? YES!!!!
Hell yeah! I guess this was the last big one he was working on. Great to see Christopher Frayling showing up too. Yet another must-buy package.

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#5 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:35 pm

I’m really glad to see Things To Come join the collection – it’s a wonderful science-fiction film taking in a whole swathe of speculative futurism. I’m not even sure that the film is that dated, given that years before the outbreak of the Second World War it has an inkling about the wholesale bombing of cities and the use of aircraft in any future conflict, including spreading deadly gas beyond the front lines.

Maybe the ‘Utopia’ far future section is a little stagey, but I find that works quite well in conveying the idea of a cut off (literally higher up in the world!) privileged elite using the masses for their own ends. In a way Things to Come works even better than Metropolis in showing class conflicts and stratifications by playing out over so many generations, covering issues of politics, militarism, feudalism, individualism and collectivism and showing the same issues emerging over and over in slightly different guises rather than one relatively simple uprising as shown by Metropolis (in that sense it could also be seen as a distant ancestor to something like Cloud Atlas in its use of actors playing different generations of characters).

It also does not really fall into a Metropolis (or perhaps more appropriately, a Time Machine!) mode of easily identifiable heroes and villains. It instead seems more focused on opportunists who seize the moment, which can be seen as either positive or negative, but still a rather human trait.

The film also features Raymond Massey’s finest performance (it is great to see him taking pride of place on the cover!) – the “Wings Over The World” speech he gives climaxing one of his characters which bridges the post-apocalyptic sequence into the far future Utopian one is a fantastic moment, the charismatic speaker stirring the remnants of society into rousing communal action (which is ably supported by the rising fanfare of the musical score, and I’m really glad to see that there is going to be a focus on that in the extras), yet also disturbing in its refusal to brook any notion of dissent from the grand plans being mapped out and imposed on the remnants of civilisation. You'll all be saved whether you want to be or not!

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Cold Bishop
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Re: 660 Things to Come

#6 Post by Cold Bishop » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:40 pm

And it's worth reiterating that the first half is one of the most impressive - and impressively frightening - examples of an old-school blockbuster spectacle you can find. The first time I saw the film, my jaw was agape.

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#7 Post by Minkin » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:38 pm

Will be nice to revisit this film. The Public Domain print I saw about 10 years ago didn't leave me too excited.

I still like the story about Arthur C. Clarke showing this film to Kubrick in preparation for 2001. Kubrick's response was something like, 'Don't recommend anymore movies to me.'

I'm hoping that the "more" will be the scripts/The Virtual Extended Edition that was on the Network release.

Sad that this release has to compete against the PD-bandit release from Legend (oh, but Criterion dropped the ball and forgot to include the colorized version! #-o ). I still don't understand that release. None of the films (She and Things to Come) have anything to do with Ray Harryhausen, yet they claim it to be a "Harryhausen double feature." They even make the BS claim on the cover: "includes Ray Harryhausen's hit film: The Most Dangerous Game." The fuck? He was 12 when that movie came out... Are they saying that its his film because he likes it? By that logic, from now on, Swo is forever known as the creator of Rushmore.

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Cold Bishop
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Re: 660 Things to Come

#8 Post by Cold Bishop » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:09 pm

Which is interesting, since I always thought it seemed to be something of an influence on 2001, particularly the way the story is told in a series of vignette taking place over generations, even eons.

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Minkin
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Re: 660 Things to Come

#9 Post by Minkin » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:41 pm

Cold Bishop wrote:Which is interesting, since I always thought it seemed to be something of an influence on 2001, particularly the way the story is told in a series of vignette taking place over generations, even eons.
Here's the quote from Stanley Kubrick: A Biography (I think I read it in the foreword to my 2001 novel though).

The full quote was a bit harsher:

"What are you trying to do to me? I'll never see another film you recommend."

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#10 Post by MichaelB » Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:42 am

I always loved the fact that H.G. Wells wrote it as a riposte to Metropolis, which he thought was "quite the silliest film", and produced a film that in many respects was equally silly. But as mad follies go, there's something wonderful about it - I don't think there's anything else quite like it in 1930s English-language cinema.

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#11 Post by solaris72 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:13 am

MichaelB wrote:I always loved the fact that H.G. Wells wrote it as a riposte to Metropolis, which he thought was "quite the silliest film", and produced a film that in many respects was equally silly. But as mad follies go, there's something wonderful about it - I don't think there's anything else quite like it in 1930s English-language cinema.
Agreed! I'm not sure I'd call it a great film but its production design, its ambition and its cultural artifact qualities make it very worthwhile.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: 660 Things to Come

#12 Post by matrixschmatrix » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:30 am

solaris72 wrote:
MichaelB wrote:I always loved the fact that H.G. Wells wrote it as a riposte to Metropolis, which he thought was "quite the silliest film", and produced a film that in many respects was equally silly. But as mad follies go, there's something wonderful about it - I don't think there's anything else quite like it in 1930s English-language cinema.
Agreed! I'm not sure I'd call it a great film but its production design, its ambition and its cultural artifact qualities make it very worthwhile.
Which, of course, closely parallels the most common critiques of Metropolis. Though, as I recall, Wells' issues with Lang's movie were almost entirely that for all the forward looking designs it's not particularly a futuristic film, as its depictions of industrial labor and so forth hearken back to the turn of the century more than they look forward. I wonder if he liked Frau im Monde any better...

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#13 Post by atcolomb » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:09 pm

Glad i held off on buying the Legend Films blu-ray because of the bad reviews on the print used for it. One of my favorites and also a great musical score.

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#14 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:47 pm

MichaelB wrote:I always loved the fact that H.G. Wells wrote it as a riposte to Metropolis, which he thought was "quite the silliest film", and produced a film that in many respects was equally silly. But as mad follies go, there's something wonderful about it - I don't think there's anything else quite like it in 1930s English-language cinema.
I agree with matrix - one of the more important philosophical differences between the two films is that, for all its science-fiction trappings and robots, Metropolis is very much looking to the past for its context: to the common man being worked to death to keep new-fangled machinery running; to religious texts (the church scenes and Tower of Babel sermon); and to fairy tales (Rotwang's house and the morality play nature of its story). Things To Come, much like the hero of The Time Machine, is continually pushing forward through disaster and apocalypse to a future which seems wonderful, but has its own set of problems and injustices ready to spark off yet more conflict.

Anyway I love Metropolis too, but I have to admit that there is much to enjoy from the climax of Things To Come if you've ever wanted to see an equivalent naively romantic couple get:
SpoilerShow
shoved into a giant space gun and blasted off on a one way trip into the depths of outer space!

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#15 Post by Kirkinson » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:39 am

colinr0380 wrote:Anyway I love Metropolis too, but I have to admit that there is much to enjoy from the climax of Things To Come if you've ever wanted to see an equivalent naively romantic couple get:
SpoilerShow
shoved into a giant space gun and blasted off on a one way trip into the depths of outer space!
SpoilerShow
Are they a romantic couple? It's been a while since I saw the film, but I don't remember them as such. If they were mentioned as being lovers or husband & wife, I can't imagine describing them as naively romantic. Naive, maybe, but only insofar as they are naive about their mission. In all other respects I remember them both being pretty squarely focused on space exploration rather than their love for each other.

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#16 Post by solaris72 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:31 pm

colinr0380 wrote:Anyway I love Metropolis too, but I have to admit that there is much to enjoy from the climax of Things To Come if you've ever wanted to see an equivalent naively romantic couple get:
SpoilerShow
shoved into a giant space gun and blasted off on a one way trip into the depths of outer space!
SpoilerShow
Which I have heard was--at some point in the writing--the original ending of Metropolis, with Freder and Maria taking off in a spaceship for the Moon!

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#17 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:56 am

SpoilerShow
Yes, I may have over-egged the 'naively romantic' aspect of the couple! But I think the Metropolis comparison still works for all that!

Although I've just been thinking of the strangely coincidental timing that this release has been announced just after that search for a couple to undertake a manned mission to Mars story broke!

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Buttery Jeb
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Re: 660 Things to Come

#18 Post by Buttery Jeb » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:53 pm

New supplement added to Criterion's release:
The Criterion Collection wrote:Unused special effects footage by artist László Moholy-Nagy, along with a video installation piece by Jan Tichy incorporating that footage

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zedz
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Re: 660 Things to Come

#19 Post by zedz » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:51 pm

Hey, another great filmmaker sneaks into the Criterion Collection by the back door.

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#20 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:55 pm

Wow.. first of all hello to all my old friends lurking around here, I know its been awhile. I hope my tagging for commentary uploads while not posting anything else of any substance whatsoever didn't come off poorly, but I've been wanting to jump back in around here for a good while. Hopefully old comrades haven't forgotten me completely!

But now THIS is a real delight and a surprise. I had heard whispers of this here and there in the rumor mill, but its so hard to separate out the wishful thinking from the real deal pending titles.

I just can't say enough about this film. One of the things I adore most about this film is that virtually every time Wells attempts to play the prophet it winds up being wildly off the mark viz the future. It gives the film a very bizarre, class of its own otherworldly quality trafficking in the destiny of some alternate universe version of planet earth.

But my god how much energy and unique labor were put into this thing. It's got the strangest structure on the face of the earth, with this effects-heavy back end mirroring the beautifully photographed present day sequences with equivalencies of character, these wild montages rendered as march of time type interludes acting as connective tissue between the elapsing eras... and you've got this extremely bizarre middle sequence with Ralph Richardson in his strangest role ever, as this fur sporting Neanderthal tribal leader. And is there anything more bizarre than Masseys headgear when he lands his aircraft in that scene to speak w Richardson?

Anyhow very glad to see this wildly unfolding tissue of rampant strangeness making its way into the collection. Another Menzies I'd love to see finally receive its due with q solid resto and disc package is his seminal sci fi thriller Invaders From Mars. The Image set of the two versions of the film was fabbo for the time, but it is time for a premium label to step up to the plate w this title.

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#21 Post by zedz » Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:57 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:Wow.. first of all hello to all my old friends lurking around here, I know its been awhile. I hope my tagging for commentary uploads while not posting anything else of any substance whatsoever didn't come off poorly, but I've been wanting to jump back in around here for a good while. Hopefully old comrades haven't forgotten me completely!
History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies, the same defeats.

Of course we haven't forgotten you (try as we might).

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#22 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:08 pm

Fine thanks... and how are We today?

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#23 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:06 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:I just can't say enough about this film. One of the things I adore most about this film is that virtually every time Wells attempts to play the prophet it winds up being wildly off the mark viz the future. It gives the film a very bizarre, class of its own otherworldly quality trafficking in the destiny of some alternate universe version of planet earth.
I agree about the film (though not about it being Ralph Richardson's strangest film role - The Bed Sitting Room, where he turns into the furnished room of the title, comfortably takes that honour!) and I wonder if that is why the film doesn't feel so dated, in the sense that it is literally off in its own universe after the first section? Plus its 'unique' structure means it hasn't been copied to death over succeeding decades!

I do like your point about the meeting between Richardson and Massey - kind of like the apes being confronted by the monolith at the beginning of 2001, with added class conflict resonances.

I'll second a call for Invaders From Mars too!

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#24 Post by J M Powell » Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:00 pm

zedz wrote:History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies, the same defeats.
Elvis will never leave the building! \:D/

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Re: 660 Things to Come

#25 Post by EddieLarkin » Sun May 19, 2013 5:04 pm

Blu-ray.com

Like Criterion's release of Late Spring, their attempt at removing some of the more significant damage has led to the film being softened overall. The Network release, like the BFI's Late Spring, appears to be a notch sharper. Compare capture #4 (Criteron) and capture #1 (Network). They should really consider the "hands off" approach usually taken by the BFI and Masters of Cinema (and seemingly Network too) in future.

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