26 May 2015

What if everything is there?

If you’ve followed the Gazette for any length of time, you know that I typically stick to discussions around the theme parks, with a particular slant towards Walt Disney World. In short, that basically means I stay away from movie or television news and reviews. You can imagine my surprise then when I was sitting through a Saturday matinee of Tomorrowland formulating thoughts akin to a review. This won’t be that review, but perhaps it will be something more as I explore my connection with Tomorrowland and what how the film called me back to that bond.

As an adult, whenever asked what my favorite corner of the Magic Kingdom is, I’ve always identified as a child of Frontierland. Perhaps that comes from my eternal fondness for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, steam trains like the Walt Disney World Railroad, or maybe from the fact that my second home growing up was Fort Wilderness. Heck, it may even have come from my father’s fascination with all things pirates and Jimmy Buffet that led me to find my own scoundrel in the cowboys of the west. I don’t really know where the attachment comes from, but it’s never been an entirely honest answer. If I am forced to be honest with myself, and with everyone here by proxy, growing up I always found myself with one foot in the past and one foot in the future.

The Tomorrowland of my youth was an amalgamation of Walt’s Progress City and the hard sciences that dictated the discoveries of the day. It was filled with gleaming spires, soft angles, and the latest and greatest of everything that would commonplace in just a few short years, but most of all it was optimistic and filled with hope. As the years went by and the attractions of Tomorrowland were less about tomorrow and more about storytelling, my attentions on tomorrow drifted over to the hope I still found in EPCOT Center’s Future World. For the Magic Kingdom, that meant that Frontierland became the place to hang my hat.

I’ve always been an optimist and a dreamer. If you don’t believe me, just ask the missus, it’s one of those things that she loves about it almost as much as she hates. As I grew up, however, some of that pure, unadulterated hope for a shining tomorrow began to dull as I began taking on real world challenges and daily grinds. I looked back at the future of yesterday and saw an unbridled enthusiasm that isn’t pervasive in today’s world and that is the future I chose to hold in my heart, rather than dedicate myself to finding that hope once again.

At this point, you might be asking yourself what any of this might have to do with the Memorial Day release, Tomorrowland? Early on in the movie we see a preschool Casey Newton being asked about her fascination with the stars which inevitably leads to the space travel question, “What if nothing is there?” Young Casey’s response, “What if everything is there?”

If you read reviews of the film, you’re going to see that there are problems within the story and that the message can be heavy-handed. Perhaps Tomorrowland isn’t for everyone, it won’t garner any awards, and it may get cast aside in the annals of film history, but maybe that’s not what it’s there for. Walt Disney was never shy about getting his message out, and typically his vehicles showcasing possible tomorrows featured a shining version of the future, but they were bright and in your face just the same. A future where anything is possible? That’s the future Casey believes in throughout Tomorrowland and that is the same belief we all had at some point in our lives, we’ve just forgotten how it felt.

Do I wish Tomorrowland the film would do astronomical numbers, nudging the powers that be to pay attention to all that Future World and Tomorrowland could be? Sure, but maybe that’s not the point. Not everyone gets a pin to visit Tomorrowland, but it is the responsibility of those who see and believe to pass that message along. If you have seen, or head to see, Tomorrowland and it touches you deep down in that corner of your heart where the future means something to you and is filled with unlimited possibilities, then it has done its job. It has passed along the message of hope and it’s up to us to spread the word, from our hideouts in Frontierland to the farthest corners of a galaxy far, far away.


Dan said...

Right on! I'm definitely on board with this post. I saw Tomorrowland yesterday and was a bit dismayed to read some reviews and discover that it didn't do that well at the box office. Even so, that essentially fits with the message of the movie. Regardless, it connected with me.

Unknown said...

Great points. I for one enjoyed the movie. Saddened to see so many negative reviews. It's def a dreamers movie.