H.G. Wells on Film

The Utopian Nightmare


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About the Book

One of the most influential thinkers of his era, H.G. Wells is primarily known for his science fiction writings that looked ahead in time to teach and warn. These novels and stories inspired many filmmakers to bring his visions (if often greatly altered or misfocused) to life on screen. He himself wrote screenplays and closely supervised the production of some of his work.
This book is a study of every theatrically released film from 1909 to 1997 that is based, even loosely, on the writings of H.G. Wells, including The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, The First Men in the Moon, The Food of the Gods and The Empire of the Ants, to name a few.
For each film, the author discusses the circumstances surrounding its creation, its plot, how it compares with the literary work, its production and marketing, and its strengths and weaknesses based on aesthetic qualities.

About the Author(s)

Don G. Smith is an associate professor in history and philosophy of education at Eastern Illinois University. He has written for numerous publications, including Filmfax, Scarlet Street, Movie Collector’s World and Midnight Marquee. He lives in Riverview Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Don G. Smith
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 205
Bibliographic Info: photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010 [2002]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4921-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1116-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction     1

1 The Time Machine (1895)    5

2 The Wonderful Visit (1895)    16

3 The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896)    23

4 The Wheels of Chance (1896)    55

5 The Invisible Man (1897)    58

6 “The Man Who Could Work Miracles” (1898)    95

7 The War of the Worlds (1898)    101

8 The First Men in the Moon (1901)    113

9 “The Story of an Inexperienced Ghost” (1902)    122

10 The Food of the Gods (1904)    125

11 “The Empire of the Ants” (1905)    136

12 Kipps (1905)    142

13 “The Door in the Wall” (1906)    150

14 The War in the Air (1908)    153

15 The History of Mr. Polly (1910)    157

16 Marriage (1912)    162

17 The Passionate Friends (1913)    164

18 Three Short Subjects: Bluebottles, The Tonic and Daydreams (1928)    170

19 The Shape of Things to Come (1933)    172

Afterword    183

Annotated Bibliography    187

Index    193

Book Reviews & Awards

“fine and readable…useful…pretty good”—Classic Images; “discerning…meticulous…clearly written…neat, orderly and easily accessible catalogue of the films and their literature…useful”—Utopian Studies; “valuable”—Choice; “plenty of science-fiction appeal”—Hitch; “does a great service for those of us who love both books and movies, through this excellent study of the coming together of a great writer and those from another medium who admire his words but do not understand his ideas”—SFRA Review; “complete as possible…useful book…readable and informative”—Catholic Library World; “clear and vivid plot summary…an impressive amount of information (including some interesting trivia about the making of each film)…a fine reference work…fascinating production notes and nice plot summaries”—Film & History; “great virtue of the book is completeness…a good deal of information…useful information…resurrects films that have been unnoticed, it marks the spots where now-lost films would have been, and it brings together the basic facts of the films it discusses…this book pays tribute to Wells’ importance as an imaginative source for film”—Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts; “lucid, accessible book…welcome addition to the field of Wellsian scholarship…excellent annotated bibliography…insightful readings of Wells’s texts…a thorough job”—Science Fiction Studies; “a very detailed look at each film version”—Critical Mass.