Wednesday, 29 August 2012

'Things To Come'

Karl Heinz Ranitzsch posted this on the HOTT Yahoo Group nearly 12 years ago. It appeared on The Stronghold in due course, but hasn't been seen since. Until now ...


As a boy, I often read my grandfather's 1930's Meccano Magazines, and was fascinated by a review of the 1936 Science Fiction film 'Things to Come', with screen play by H.G.Wells. I recently got hold of a video copy of the film, and was, indeed, impressed.

The story, in short:
On Christmas day, 1940, war breaks out in Europe. The very English city of "Everytown" is subject to a surprise gas bombing by enemy bombers. War lasts for decades. By the 1960's, Everytown is reduced to post-apocalyptic rubble, ruled by the 'Boss' a tin-pot dictator. But in another part of the world, scientists and engineers have restored order and built new high-tech airplanes. With the narcotic "Gas of Peace", they put the Boss' army to sleep and disarm them. Under the scientist's leadership , Everytown is rebuilt into a high-tech metropolis. By 2036, the first trip to the moon is being prepared, using a giant space gun. But many people are overwhelmed by the changes brought by progress, and a resistance movement springs up, who threaten to destroy the space gun.

Although the film is only in black and white, and shows its age, especially in its acting, it is visually stunning in all its phases The war scenes blend WWI documentaries, with scenes of 1930's equipment, with some impressive footage resembling Eisenstein's best scenes, and are better than many a WWII film. The style of the post-apocalyptic scenes easily rivals "Mad Max" and hosts of lesser films of that ilk. The future community is a visually stunning blend of Bauhaus and Art Deco, the Space Gun rivals the Saturn Moon rockets in scale. The philosophical questions it raises about warfare, progress and human reactions to it are still with us. Definitely worth seeing if you can find a copy.

You can read the film script here:

The film can also provide material for HOTT Armies:

1940's ARMIES

Stronghold: European City
1 x Commander with long-range artillery - Magician general @ 4AP
1 x Artillery - Artillery @ 3AP
1 x Bomber - Airboat @ 3AP
2 x Tanks - Knights @ 2AP
1 x Machine gunners - Shooters @ 2AP
3 x Infantrymen - Blades @ 2AP
1 x Fighter plane - Flyers @ 2AP

Alternatives: Poison Gas attack as God @ 4AP

The forces of Everytown's country use typical 1930's British tanks and biplane fighters, their troops are British. Their enemy, not identified as a specific European country, use more modern early WWII monoplane fighters and clumsy bombers that look like 1930's French planes. Their tanks are streamlined Art Deco designs that would not look out of place in any SF setting.

1960's ARMIES

Stronghold: European City reduced to rubble by warfare
1 x Boss - Hero general @ 4AP
2 x Cavalry - Riders @ 2AP
1 x Machine gunners - Shooters @ 2AP
7 x Infantrymen - Warband @ 2AP
1 x Fighter plane - Flyers @ 2AP

Alternatives: Boss as Warband General @ 2AP. Infantrymen as Hordes @ 1 AP

The Boss is regarded as a Hero, at least by his followers. He rides around with his Mistress in an old Rolls Royce. Due to lack of fuel, it has to be pulled by horses. The army is reduced to an infantry force with a few
horsemen and the occasional machine gun. Just a few rickety biplanes are left, flying with the last drops of available fuel.


Stronghold: Futuristic Airport
1 x Commander - Airboat general @ 3 AP
3 x Bombers - Airboats @ 3 AP
6 x Fighters - Flyers @ 2 AP

Alternatives: Paratroopers - Shooters @ 2AP

"World Communications" is the name of the Scientific community which brings peace to the war-torn world.
The futuristic design should be Arr Deco and Bauhaus rather than Victorian Steampunk. The game "Crimson Skies" or some of the more outlandish late WWII German projects provide suitable airplane miniatures. The paratroopers wear tight-fitting black space suits. In the film they are unarmed when they disarm the Boss' troops put to sleep by the sleep gas. But some kind of narcotic rifle might well fit into the scheme of the film.


  1. Kaptain Kobold,

    Thanks for making this available again ... especially as THINGS TO COME is one of my all-time favourite films.

    All the best,


  2. Great movie and great lists - thank you.

  3. Karl Heinz Ranitzsch30 August 2012 at 01:20

    Thanks for reviving my article and list - and for spelling my name correctly :) . I am still in love with that film and its design and its vision of WWII is quite interesting compared to what happened and shows what people expected in the 1930's.

    I have been toying with the idea of modelling the tanks and airplanes in 6mm scale and making it available through my Shapeways' 3d-print shop.

    The autogyro in larger scale is already available here:

    Karl Heinz

    1. My pleasure - happy to bring it back into the light of day :)

      I did make a small adjustment to the 1940s list after I realised that the original one was actually illegal.

  4. I recall seeing that movie on TV back in the mid-1960s. Many years later I got hold of the book. The first section is 'recent' history following WW1 and the consequences thereof. The War opens with clashed between Germany and Poland...


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