In the tradition of weekend matinee double-features, the Museum reprises two classic, visually stunning films recently presented as part of Fashion in Film Festival–Wearing Time: Past, Present, Future, Dream, William Cameron Menzies’ visionary 1936 H.G. Wells adaption Things to Come, and Andrei Tarkovsky’s existentially haunting Stanisław Lem adaptation, Solaris. Single ticket grants entry to both films.
Things to Come
Dir. William Cameron Menzies. 1936, 97 mins. Imported 35mm print from the British Film Institute. With Raymond Massey, Edward Chapman, Ralph Richardson. Although the streamline modernestyle, which has come to define Things to Come in popular imagination, appears only in its final part set in 2036, it makes a profound visual impact. The “age of mechanical perfection” (in H.G. Wells’s words) is overwhelmingly white in both architecture and clothing, cutting a serene image of a world cleansed of manual labor, disease and suffering. Wells, on whose 1933 book the film was based, prophesied that clothing of the enlightened future would be “austerely beautiful,” machine-made to measure, and utterly disposable. He nevertheless elaborated more on the social and cultural conditions at the root of the new fashions than questions of style per se,allowing the film’s costume designers to do their own bit of magic. As the film travels forward through a hundred years, the costumes perfectly register social and political progress, as well as regression. The final look is an intriguing fusion of angular modernism, elements of heroic warrior wear, and classical garb, as seen in the 1930s couture.
Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky. 1972, 166 mins. Restored DCP. With Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Jüri Järvet. In Russian and German with English subtitles. In contrast to the technotopian sci-fi productions of the 1950s and 1960s, Tarkovsky’s Solaris offered to early-1970s audiences a completely fresh take on a future world of interstellar travel. Within the genre, the film is uncharacteristically somber and understated in its preference for familiar, “human” imagery of nature and sixteenth century Flemish painting over the exotically new. Tarkovsky’s lack of reverence for technological marvels, special effects or any kind of futuristic aesthetic allows space for an extremely nuanced psychological portrayal of people affected by enigmatic, haunting phenomena that unravel on the distant planet Solaris. This is only underlined by the no-nonsense, lived-in clothes in an earthy colour palette, in which costume designer Nelli Fomina dressed the characters.
Tickets: $15 ($11 seniors and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / free for children under 3 and Museum members at the Film Lover and Kids Premium levels and above). Order tickets online.
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