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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the VHS From Englewood!
I have loved "Things To Come for over twenty years and have taught it in my classes. It is slow and talky for many viewers, but it is also indisputably a great film---in fact, with "2001: A Space Odyssey" and a few others, it is that rarest of works: a genuine, serious science fiction movie.
However, be warned. Most of the public domain prints out...
Published on October 15, 2000

versus
167 of 182 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars GREAT movie, LOUSY video transfer
NOTE: Unfortunately, I think the new colorized Harryhausen version has the same problems. See more below.

"Things to Come" was the "2001" of its day.

In the late sixties, I saw a clean print of this movie in a New York theatre and it blew me away. Although it is in black-and-white, it is visually spectacular; the story is exciting; and it has a...
Published on February 2, 2002 by Daniel P. Smith


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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the VHS From Englewood!, October 15, 2000
By A Customer
I have loved "Things To Come for over twenty years and have taught it in my classes. It is slow and talky for many viewers, but it is also indisputably a great film---in fact, with "2001: A Space Odyssey" and a few others, it is that rarest of works: a genuine, serious science fiction movie.
However, be warned. Most of the public domain prints out there are simply horrible, as many of the reviews on this page attest. I have viewed numerous prints of this film and had long ago given up hope of ever seeing the movie in anything resembling reasonable condition---and then came the Englewood Entertainment video, with its glorious "neon" packaging. The picture has been cleaned up a good deal, and is much less shaky and spliced than other versions;but the glory of this edition is the soundtrack. Major work has been done here, eliminating hiss and pops and rendering the dialogue easily comprehensible for the first time in my lifetime and revealing the fully rich beauty of Arthur Bliss's magnificent score. You simply have not seen "Things To Come" until you've seen the Englewood print!
Perhaps someday the British will take it upon themselves to restore "Things To Come" to its full glory, with a complete 113-minute print (the Englewood is the standard 90-or-so minutes).That will be a great day for fans of science fiction film. But until then, Englewood has rendered a tremendous service to lovers of this movie. Get it. Cherish it.
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167 of 182 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars GREAT movie, LOUSY video transfer, February 2, 2002
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This review is from: H.G. Wells - Things to Come (DVD)
NOTE: Unfortunately, I think the new colorized Harryhausen version has the same problems. See more below.

"Things to Come" was the "2001" of its day.

In the late sixties, I saw a clean print of this movie in a New York theatre and it blew me away. Although it is in black-and-white, it is visually spectacular; the story is exciting; and it has a wonderful score. The sound was mono optical sound, but it was crisp and clear and capable of delivering the impact of the Arthur Bliss music.

For years, I've owned a disappointing VHS copy, which looks as if it were made made from a dirty, blurry, over-contrasty 16mm print, and the sound quality is poor. I've yearned to see a clean copy.

So when I got my DVD player, one of the first things I did was to buy this release, which says that it "features a pristine new film-to-video transfer from original source materials."

I am sorry to say it looks EXACTLY like the cruddy old VHS version, and the mushy sound is completely unworthy of the composer and music director.

So, I don't know what to say. If you've never seen the movie _Things to Come_, I recommend the movie highly. But the image quality and sound on this DVD have, alas, that "lousy old 16mm print look."

UPDATE: I'm afraid I think the "Harryhausen" colorized version is just as bad. My remarks above were written about an earlier DVD, Alas, and to my great disappointment, apart from being colorized, I'm afraid that they do. My review was for an earlier DVD edition.

I had great hopes for this new release with the Harryhausen name, and I'm aware that apparently other reviewers' opinions differ from mine. I think they must never have a 35mm print of this film, though.

Black-and-white films from the late thirties are technically every bit as good as "Casablanca" or "Citizen Kane." This DVD still looks to me like a bad 16mm print. I'm not a purist, but the film grain is coarse and obvious. The framing is not steady. The exposure varies, giving an irregular flickery effect. It's not exactly blurry, but it's not as crisp and sharp as any ordinary DVD of any ordinary 1950 black-and-white movie. Comparing it to the earlier DVD, I'm not sure what "restoration" was done except for colorization.

I'm glad that people find this version enjoyable to watch, but _Things to Come_ is a minor landmark in cinema history, and a major landmark in science fiction cinema history. Like 2001, this film was a visual spectacle and low picture quality greatly reduces its impact. It deserves better than this.
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86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Good Movie Made Unviewable, April 25, 2000
By A Customer
Having seen Things To Come on VHS, I looked forward to buying it on DVD. When I received it, however, the reproduction was so poor as to render it essentially unviewable. In the initial scenes the images are so murky that I was often unable to make out the faces of the principal characters. I only knew who was speaking because I'd seen the movie before. In all scenes the image is extremely fuzzy, looking exactly like the background when a camera is tightly focused on a face in the foreground. Sadly then, this DVD is worthless and you should wait for a better version. Note that the movie itself is a science-fiction classic, and ought to be seen by anyone interested in the part of the genre that was not usually shown in drive-ins. Note carefully, however, that most of the reviews are based on the VHS version, not the DVD. These reviews of course give no hint of the unacceptably low technical quality of the current DVD release. Just as an aside, I hope I'm not one of those people who spots a speck of dust and declares the room filthy. I'm actually being kind to the folks who made this DVD!
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69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Film Marred By Poor Print, July 3, 1999
By A Customer
Two stars for the film print used on this DVD -- but FIVE STARS for the original film itself. The film "Things To Come" has been called cold, distant, intellectually contrived ... but it is truly one of the most remarkable early films, predicting the rise of savior technology from the ashes of terrible world wars. Like "Contact," "Things to Come" explores the Cartesian division between science and faith, exploring the schism between universal technology and provincial tribalism. Its views of the perfect technocracy of 2036 must be viewed in the context of the 1936 film, but it also weirdly echoes today's "information age" progress. It is most unfortunate that this great film is so badly marred in this DVD edition by such a terrible print. Much of the sound is muffled; the brightness of the print pulsates perceptably; and even the famous ending (the last, wordless, mouthed line) is cut because the film print on which it was taken was tattered. Do NOT waste your money on even this inexpensive version. It is a shame that people -- especially young people who may never have seen this masterpiece -- will view this marred version. DVD companies should stop rushing into production the worst of these film prints! and only produce the finest -- "all or nothing, which shall it be?..."
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy the Image Entertainment DVD, March 28, 2001
By 
ccbaxter47 (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: H.G. Wells - Things to Come (DVD)
I just want to reiterate the comments below that this new Image Entertainment DVD release is by far the finest version of this sci-fi classic that I've ever seen. Though not perfect, it towers above the many public domain versions that have been floating around over the years. Though occasionally a bit pompous, this memorable film is justifiably notable for its striking production design--the futuristic portion may be the part everyone remembers but the design of the post-apocalyptic Everytown by William Cameron Menzies is just as impressive. "Things To Come" is a worthy addition to one's sci-fi DVD collection.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last, A First-Rate Presentation of a Worthy Movie, June 4, 2013
NOTE: THIS REVIEW APPLIES TO THE CRITERION COLLECTION DVD OF THINGS TO COME, ISSUED IN JUNE OF 2013.
Let me start by saying that I made a small contribution to part of this release, in the form of an account of the music from the film -- but I had no role in any other aspect of the release, and have no participation in the sales or other activities surrounding the Criterion Collection DVD (or ANY other DVD edition) of this movie, nor did I have anything to do with the elements of the release about which I'm about to comment.

That said, I can safely say that the picture and sound quality of the movie itself as presented on this DVD (the FIRST authorized video release of the movie, at least on this side of the Atlantic, incidentally, and taken from the BFI's restored edition) are both stunning -- I'm old enough, and was lucky enough to have seen THINGS TO COME long before the wave of degraded, faded, worn out, and chopped up editions of the movie began filling the airwaves in the 1980s, at a time when there were still authorized 35mm prints of the movie around; and this release is a match for those 35mm sources and THEN some, for sheer quality in the detail, contrast, and richness, of the picture and the sound. It's the best the picture has looked and sounded in my experience since I first saw it in 1969, and it's better than that presentation (which was on a proper, network owned-and-operated TV station, incidentally -- on Christmas Day, no less, maybe because of the film's opening sequence?), as well.

As to the running time, it's 97 minutes -- that IS the running time of the movie, period. THINGS TO COME was previewed at 117 minutes (and perhaps even a longer version at one point), and subsequently cut down several times before its actual general release at 97 minutes, and was later cut to 92 and then 89 minutes; but 97 minutes is what there is of the movie. Unlike, say, Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS (1927), which was actually released in Germany (albeit briefly) at its full, 153 minute running time before being cut -- and which had full-length prints sent to distributors in various markets on different continents -- THINGS TO COME only ever went out at 97 minutes into general release, so there aren't any "loose" or unaccounted for long prints of it to be found around the world (as, fortunately, there were with METROPOLIS). There do exist stills representing scenes and characters that were cut from the film before release, and an "alternate cut" of the movie, incorporating those stills and other visual elements to fill out the "lost" sections in tandem with surviving script portions representing the deleted scenes, has been done for release in the UK; but there is no actual 117 minute, or 107-minute, or 100-whatever minute version of the movie, or whatever the frequently-cited figure is for an "extended" cut of the movie, to be seen intact as a finished, complete film. (That's anymore than there will ever -- EVER -- be an official "extended" cut of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, incorporating the scenes [was it 16 minutes' worth?] that Stanley Kubrick edited out after the previews but before the actual opening of the movie, in the basement of the MGM building on Sixth Avenue in New York. Reviews of the film from the opening even cited the still-visible splices at that point; and that removed footage is gone forever). And anyone who wants to rectify that situation on THINGS TO COME would have to take a page out of one of Mr. Wells's other playbooks, and perfect a time machine, journey back to London in 1936, and persuade Alexander Korda to save the deleted portions of the movie (good luck with that . . . . though if one could do such a thing for this sort of purpose, I'd sooner do it for the lost reels of Erich Von Stroheim's GREED and Orson Welles's THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, ahead of THINGS TO COME . . . . )

I'll also add, equally important to anything else about this release is David Kalat's audio commentary for the movie on the Criterion DVD -- it is a wonder: Charming, witty, informative, and entertaining, and this comment comes from someone who has done about 30 audio commentaries in his time.

As to the movie itself, it's even more fascinating than it looks and sounds, if that's possible to say (how can a movie be more fascinating than it looks or sounds? read on . . . .) -- a ground-breaking social/science-fiction film of its time, purporting to deal with the next 100 years of human history starting with the Second World War (the start of which it only gets wrong by about 15 months) and its aftermath. THINGS TO COME is, in many ways, akin to Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, a later monumental look into the future, and the relationships of humankind to technology, and technology to power (questions also raised by Lang's METROPOLIS, which Wells thought a very silly movie). And THINGS TO COME shares many characteristics with Kubrick's movie, including a coldness that repelled a lot of audience members in 1936, and characters who are mostly more symbolic figures than dramatic creations). And the whole thing was initally conceived by H. G. Wells as a near-operatic creation, with the music giving the work its structure, shape, and texture (and the music still mostly does, even though it wasn't shot that way except for the building-of-the-new-world sequences in the last third of the movie).

In other words, yes, it's all well worth buying.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A visual feast made palatable, February 4, 2003
By 
Knight Hawk "jjl0113" (Chicagoland, Illinois United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: H.G. Wells - Things to Come (DVD)
Image Entertainment's DVD edition of H.G. Wells "Things To Come" is a welcome improvement over other home video editions. The package and marketing information state that this edition features "a new video transfer from original source materials", and so it evidently does. Yet, these words could be misleading. Image may have obtained the use of an authorized "original" studio print for this edition, and I appreciate their doing so, but this does not look like an "original" print in the usual sense.

In 1935 & '36 London Pictures spent a fortune to make "Things To Come". The movie is a sober warning of the horrors and retrograde effects of war on society. At the time of its appearance, the world still suffered under the brutal memories of the World War that ended in 1918, and at the time of the film's release, with rumblings of the rising Nazi war machine in Europe, the public was in no mood to be reminded of war's frightful prospect. Audiences shunned "Things To Come" in droves. The studio never came close to recovering the costs of the picture, and ended up abandoning it. The rights eventually fell into the public domain, and there it has languished, with numerous opportunists making duplicate prints from the existing original 16mm prints. These shoddily made prints were transfered to tape, and cheaply copied to VHS tapes that are unviewable as anything other than a poor suggestion of the film's original glory.

By abandoning the film, the studio didn't bother to preserve the negatives, and the scarce original release prints made in the 30's and the hundreds of unauthorized duplications are all that remain. Since most studio films are shot in 35mm, a 35mm print would be the closest descendent from the camera negative, and the best existing source from which to make a new negative, or a video transfer. Since most 35mm prints are destroyed when a film is withdrawn from theatrical distribution, very few, if any 35mm prints of "Things To Come" have survived to our time. It is therefore not surprising that Image Entertainment's video transfer is not from an original 35mm print. Indeed, strictly speaking, it isn't really from an original 16mm print, either.

If you duplicate an old photograph without first shooting a negative from the photo, the final printed duplicate will not look much like the original photo: it will lack contrast and range of gray scale. Yet, that is how most 16mm "duped" movie prints are made. Printing of movies is very expensive, and shooting an intermediate negative doubles the expense if only a single positive duplication is made. What's more, 16mm offers a very tiny frame from which to shoot a negative. An intermediate negative shot from a 16mm print would perhaps produce better contrast and range of gray tone, but because it is an added step in the duplication process, it further diminishes the final image resolution and adds more distortion and noise in the optical sound track.

The source elements for this DVD edition are not your typical "duped" 16mm print. They appear to be printed from a negative generated by reduction from a 35mm POSITIVE print. It also appears that exposure correction may have been applied to various scenes during the printing process. This then is probably a studio duplicate using a 16mm duped reduction inter-negative, resulting in a 16mm print with fine contrast and gray tones, while still exhibiting good image resolution and sound. The sound for this negative may have been electro-optically transfered, thus reducing the distortion and noise contributed by optics-only duplication, and nearly matches the sound quality of a true original 16mm print. The sound is so primitive however, that it is hard to be certain. Nevertheless, the dialog comes through nearly as well as from original 16mm studio prints of other titles from this period. The music, however, is a bit distorted and shrill at times.

Having gone to the trouble to make a 16mm reduction inter-negative, it is surprising that the 35mm source print for it wasn't first cleaned up. There are emulsion lines, and a lot of dirt that could have been removed fairly economically. My guess is that the inter-negative was made long ago, before methods for line removal had been developed and before the film was felt important enough for such maintenance. Nevertheless, the results, while hardly gorgeous, are the best I've seen of this title, and the DVD should bear up well to repeated or extended viewing.

I find Daniel P. B. Smith's comments (elsewhere on this page) telling. I quote: "In the late sixties, I saw a clean print of this movie in a New York theatre and it blew me away. ...it is visually spectacular.... The sound was...crisp and clear and capable of delivering the impact of the Arthur Bliss music." I envy you, Daniel.

Just because such a 35mm print was still extant in the 60's is no proof that such a print still exists more than 30 years later, although it seems likely. It is lamentable that the film has not been digitized, and so preserved for all time, using original 35mm elements. This is a visually ground-breaking film which continues to impress viewers as well as influence film makers, and it will no doubt continue to do so; but unless a collector comes forward with an original 35mm print for high resolution digital transfer, future generations may be consigned to view it thru a glass, darkly. But, at least with this DVD, the glass is now significantly less dark. Thank you Image Entertainment for taking pains to obtain this print.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Predictions of the future didn't include misrecorded DVDs, March 5, 2008
By 
J. Gangi "The Gangi Man" (Pottstown, Pennsylvania United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Things to Come (1936) (DVD)
Don't waste your money on this DUD! Reel Classics completely screwed up this classic by transcribing it to wide screen aspect ratio (16:9), it should be regular old 4:3. The result is that all of the characters look FAT, particularly their faces and legs. I tried to correct this on four different DVD players, to no avail. They have turned a true Sci-Fi classic into a visual comedy. Is this what we are in store for with the transition to HD?? How many years will it take the DVD industry to get this stuff right? Does Amazon check for these obvious flaws in the products they sell?
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Madacy DVD ruins classic movie, May 20, 2001
By 
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I guess you get what you pay for. I would recommend AGAINST buying the Madacy Entertainment version of Things To Come. This inexpensive DVD uses an extremely poor print of the original movie and is very hard to watch. I've learned my lesson and bought the Image Entertainment version. It's significantly more expensive, but the quality of the print is SO much better that's it's very much worth it.
As far as the movie itself? Gotta have it! This is a classic that should be in every Sci-Fi fan's collection. It's full of bang-on predictions, wonderful 1930's art-deco imagery and that amazing pre-WWII sense of mankind being able to pull itself through to a technological utopia - even to see that tarnished in the end.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One star for the Print, Five for the Movie = Three Stars, July 20, 2000
By 
Jack Rice (California, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
There are film classics that we almost lost - literally. For one reason or another - mainly, I think, because the available version went into public domain and was abandoned by the studio, or because the nitrate film stock of the master negative disintegrated - the only copy extant for video/DVD transfer is a dupe, and a bad one at that. "My Man Godfrey" and "Nothing Sacred" come to mind. And, of course, "Things to Come".
If one could reify the art deco aesthetic into a story, this would be it. If the Chrysler Building really were a rocket ship and could fly past the the moon and stars and comets of art deco friezes . . . if we could look into the mindset of those whose naive and fresh vision of man's destiny had recently been energized by the discoveries of relativity and of deep space and of rocket travel and their implications . . . we would perhaps come up with the image of "Things to Come". Some of the scenes may strike us a corny - much as those in Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" might - but they are no more corny in their context than those in "2001, a Space Odyssey" or, for that matter, "Starship Troopers".
Unless you have the discipline to see past the awful print quality of the video and DVD (and even of the versions you see on TV which, presumably can get the best), you will come away with a distorted impression. It took me a number of viewings to discover the greatness of "Things to Come". I give the DVD and video only three stars to encourage the search for a good master from which to transfer a five-star movie.
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Things to Come [Blu-ray]
Things to Come [Blu-ray] by William Cameron Menzies (Blu-ray - 2013)
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