This film is part of the 'Cinema Matters: Bigger Than Life' season. To draw out the philosophical implications of the film, the Barbican welcome Sarah Bakewell, author of At the Existentialist Café (Chatto & Windus, 2016) who counts The Incredible Shrinking Man among her all-time favourites.
Time Out review:
Not merely the best of Arnold's classic sci-fi movies of the '50s, but one of the finest films ever made in that genre. It's a simple enough story: after being contaminated by what may or may not be nuclear waste, Grant Williams finds himself slowly but steadily shedding the pounds and inches until he reaches truly minuscule proportions. But it is what Richard Matheson's script (adapted from his own novel) does with this basic material that makes the film so gripping and intelligent. At first, Williams is merely worried about his mysterious illness, but soon, towered over by his wife, he begins to feel humiliated, expressing his shame and impotence through cruel anger. And then his entire relationship with the universe changes, with cats, spiders and drops of water representing lethal threats in the surreal and endless landscape that is, in fact, his house's cellar. And finally, to the strains of Joseph Gershenson's impressive score, we arrive at the film's philosophical core: a moving, strangely pantheist assertion of what it really means to be alive. A pulp masterpiece.
Here (and above) is the trailer.