The World of Tomorrow (1998)

2009 #69a
Kerry Conran | 6 mins | Blu-ray | U

The World of TomorrowBefore Sky Captain, there was this: a six-minute reel, shot, edited and, er, special-effects-ed, by Conran on an amateur basis over four years, demonstrating the production techniques and storyline he had in mind for a feature-length homage / reimagining of ’40s cinema serials.

We’re used to incredibly impressive home-crafted effects-laden films these days, but keeping in mind this was finished 11 years ago, it’s quite impressive. Judged now, it’s clearly the very early days of such composited digital filmmaking, lacking some of the complexity and flair we now see. What it does still suggest is that, given a full budget, such an idea has potential, both in terms of the method and the retro-sci-fi ’40s-serial-style story. Certainly, in my opinion, it did produce a very entertaining film in exactly that vein.

In comparison to its big brother, nearly every shot is exactly duplicated in the final film. In fact, most don’t look much more primitive here. The resolution’s lower, it’s perhaps a bit jagged round the edges, and it’s in deliberately dirtied black and white rather than the glowing sepia-hued colour of the feature, but it shows the concept worked from the off.

The World of Tomorrow isn’t a great film in its own right — indeed, as the closing captions suggest, it’s really an extended trailer / proof of concept for something bigger. In the latter regard it shows all the requisite promise, and thankfully someone in the industry noticed too.

3 out of 5

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