Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession. – Isaiah 60:11
Let your mind wander backwards in time to the turn of the 20th century. There was a pair of bicycle repairing brothers who fostered an extravagant envy of birds. Scientists were staring at dishes of mold and envisioning the future healing of many. Now over a hundred years later the technological advances that get the most attention and money seem concerned with putting a more powerful phablet into our jean pocket.
The Wright Brothers took their envy into flight, but where are we going? Awhile ago I wrote a wondering response to the dystopian visions of the future our popular media are constantly emitting (The Prequel-Sequel of Hope). Is the Hunger Games’ Pan-Am inevitable? Are we just the Walking Dead? Is imagination a thing of the past? I think this is a question Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland simultaneously asks with a bigger, potentially more important question: can we fix it?
George Clooney plays Frank, a perfect example of the average citizen of Earth. He is intelligent and creative, packed with potential, but he spends his time staring into TV’s plastered with the images of the world, both fictional and non, with a future that isn’t so bright. Not only that, he stares at a clock waiting for the world to expire. Perhaps the worst part is that Frank does all of this having once been a resident of Tomorrowland.
Tomorrowland is the future. It is an alternate dimensional lab where the best and brightest everything go to form a new creation, a creation with technology in every sphere advanced beyond our wildest dreams. A creation that has no disease, no worries, and no limits. Tomorrowland is the place Isaiah dreamed of in chapter 60 of his prophecy, a sentiment later duplicated in the Revelation of John. The kings have come to Tomorrowland to offer the wealth of their nations, but the tension of the film involves whether or not those gates will be open.
Enter Casey, the author of the big “can we fix it?” question. She is a teenager, the daughter of a NASA engineer. When we enter her life she is in the midst of a battle to save the ghosts of NASA’s space program from becoming an empty field. Casey has “it.” She has the chutzpah that opens the gates of Tomorrowland. It’s a swirling mixture of intellect, ingenuity, courage, and hope. It’s love, the thing that drove Frank from Tomorrowland decades earlier.
It would be difficult to say more about the movie without giving too much away. What I will say is that Tomorrowland is important. Incredibly valid social circumstances can be interpreted and revealed through the dystopian fiction our young people are immersed in right now, but they need images of a hopeful future too. This film is a challenge. It’s a challenge to all of us who are made in the image of a limitless creator that filled us to the brim with powerful potential. It is 2015, the year Marty McFly and Doc Brown travelled to wearing self sizing clothes and dodging flying cars.
We must take our modern tales of apocalypse and decay as warnings of what could be if imagination dies. Let’s leave them as warnings not reality. I want my hover boards. I want a world without cancer. I want to see an end to world hunger. I want a place with open gates welcoming in the wealth of the nations where God shouts loud that he will wipe away every tear. And I know many other people do as well, but do you believe it could really happen? I want to go to Tomorrowland, are you coming with me?