H. G. Wells adapted his own novel about a long world war and the first rocket carrying people to the moon in 2036.
At Christmas in 1940 world war threatens Europe as children play with war toys. John Cabal (Raymond Massey) warns, "If we don't end war, war will end us." War begins without a declaration. Mobilization proceeds, and people flee air raids. Bombs destroy the city. Tanks, ships, and planes do their worst. Pilot John rescues a wounded pilot, who gives his gas mask to a girl. The war goes on, and pestilence spreads as people wander and are shot. Dr. Harding (Maurice Braddell) runs out of medicine. His daughter walks out and is shot.
By 1970 the plague has ended, but the war continues using horses. Mary Gordon (Ann Todd) tells her husband Richard Gordon (Derrick De Marney) that she heard an airplane. Richard says he can't repair the planes. A plane lands; its pilot John Cabal asks to see the chief and meets Dr. Harding. John says that engineers are trying to save civilization without bosses. John speaks for World Communications and offers trade; but the boss Rudolf (Ralph Richardson) puts him under arrest. John says they intend to stop independent sovereign states. Roxana (Margaretta Scott) advises the boss to use John; but the boss fights on and takes coal pits. Richard asks the boss for help from John and Dr. Harding, who says he won't work on poison gas. The boss demands gas fuel, but Dr. Harding refuses. Roxana visits John, who helps Richard with a plane and plans escape. Richard flies to World Communications and tells them about John. The boss learns Richard left and orders Dr. Harding. Planes fly over and drop peace gas, which puts people to sleep. Men parachute and find John. The boss is dead. John explains how they can clean up the world and improve things. New machines are devised.
In 2036 Theotocopulos (Cedric Hardwicke) wants to rebel because a space ship is going to be launched. A great-grandfather explains to a girl how their world is better than the past. John Cabal's great grandson Oswald Cabal (Raymond Massey) is now president. Maurice Passworthy (Kenneth Viliers) tells Oswald that he wants to go around the moon with Oswald's daughter Catherine Cabal (Pearl Argyle). Theotocopulos speaks against the experiment on television; Oswald lets the people hear and decide. Raymond Passworthy (Edward Chapman) doesn't want his son to go. Oswald learns that Theotocopulos and people are going to destroy the space gun. Maurice and Catherine decide to go and take a helicopter with Oswald and Maurice to the launching device. Maurice and Catherine enter the spacecraft. Theotocopulos and his crowd arrive and demand the space gun be destroyed. The ship is put in the gun and launched into space. Oswald calls it the beginning, though Maurice says that humans are just little animals. Oswald says that it is all the universe or nothing, asking Maurice which shall it be.
This story prophesied the next world war and portrayed its destructiveness, though the lesson recommended still has not been learned. Ironically the cold war enabled men to land on the moon as early as 1969; but whether humanity will organize itself to prevent wars by 2036 is still an open question, and the possibility of nothing instead of all the universe is still a real possibility unless we do.