1920s

The Fugitive Futurist

I’ve long been intrigued by earlier generations’ visions of the future.  I remember I had as a child in the late 1950s and 1960s some few children’s books of transport, for example, that envisioned future machines and modes of travel for the year 2000 (or thereabouts) the reality of which of course turned out to be very different.

So I was delighted to discover this short silent film, The Fugitive Futurist.  Made in 1924, it presents the tale of a gambling man who, we are led to assume, consistently loses at the racecourse.  He is approached by what is ostensibly an inventor who has built a box capable of seeing into the future; for example, that visualises a London of some unspecified year in the future in which the blimp is a form of urban transport, in which the river Thames is drained and turned to railway line, and in which houses self-build.  The self-styled inventor asks the gambler to look after the box for him, confiding to the latter that he is hunted by spies and so fears being caught with the box.  For his own part, the gambler sees its use in predicting the outcome of future races.

There’s a twist to the end of the tale, which I shall not spoil by relating here.  Enjoy!

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