(1914, GB, 104 min, b/w) Dir Albert Adlington. Cast Herbert Baum, Eleanor Tatchell, Simon Fisk.
A large budget production for the time – partly funded by entrepreneur and utopian Sir Robert Sockton-Mogg – detailing the glorious future that lay ahead for the British Empire. As ever with these kinds of films it’s as entertaining to see what they got wrong as they did right. In the former camp there are the fashions which have remained curiously immobile from the Edwardian era and the biplanes that everyone has in their driveway. More poignant is the idea the film predicts that in 2014 that the British Empire would be celebrating one hundred years of peace and stability around the world but of course how could they have then predicted the First and Second World Wars, the dissolution of the Empire and all that followed. What they got right is interesting with a ‘Cinematograph’ is on the wall in every home like a flat screen TV, for example, or submarines travelling the oceans. Besides this and some ahead of their time special effects the film isn’t great, as stodgy to sit through as 1933’s similar Things to Come. It remains a valuable cultural artefact however and the mostly complete silver nitrate print in the BFI’s library is a wonder to behold. Maybe not perfect but a historical moment for sure.