Film Studies Center
Things to Come: An Off-Bauhaus Anniversary with Joyce Tsai
In 1936, the Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy was hired to create a montage sequence for Things to Come, a sci-fi film scripted by famed author H.G. Wells. Telling the story of a world wrecked by global war, poison gas, and contagious epidemics before its eventual reconstruction, the film stands as both a reflection on the First World War and an uncanny prefiguration of the Second. Although only 90 seconds of Moholy’s footage would appear in the final cut, the influence of Bauhaus aesthetics is palpable in its production design as a whole, which presents a dazzling world of underground skyscrapers, panoramic vistas, and transparent plastic furniture. Subject to controversy even before its release, this cult film has had a rocky history. Revisiting the film today in the context of the Bauhaus Centenary, however, allows us to explore the wider dissemination of Bauhaus aesthetics since the 1930s, as well as question the relationship of modernist design, war, and environmental catastrophe.