Tomorrowland may piss off climate change deniers — and that's a good thing
While maintaining an optimistic viewpoint, Disney's new family film, Tomorrowland, doesn't shy away from the reality of climate change. In fact, figuring out ways to solve impending destruction as a result of climate change is the entire point of the film. Hopefully, it will inspire its young viewers to take action before it's too late.
On July 17, 1955, Walt Disney himself dedicated a plaque at Tomorrowland that read:
A vista into a world of wondrous ideas signifying man's achievements. A step into the future with predictions of constructive things to come.
Tomorrowland offers new frontiers in science, adventure and ideals: The Atomic Age… the challenge of outer space… and the hope for a peaceful and unified world.
The very fact that Walt Disney created Tomorrowland with its utopian features like the Monorail, PeopleMover and Mission to Mars rides, meant that he was also a futurist. He was a visionary who dreamed of creating a better world using science.
In many ways, Walt's dream has come true. We have the internet, a robot that sends us pictures from Mars and an actual International Space Station. But a controversial dark shadow has been cast over all our technological advancements: climate change. The overwhelming majority of scientists who study the current changes in our climate and examine the trend of extreme weather all agree it is man-made.
Tomorrowland the movie doesn't speculate on whether or not the doom and gloom from climate change is coming — it has a clock counting down the number of days until disaster strikes, engaging the characters in the film in a race against time.
Frank Walker (George Clooney) is a scrappy inventor and scientist at the center of the movie, who's become a bit of a hermit, having barricaded himself inside his ultra-protected home where he watches weather events on numerous monitors.
We flash back to see him as a boy at the 1964 World's Fair, where he's played by 12-year-old Thomas Robinson (a dead ringer for Clooney as a kid), a curious, science-minded young boy who gets a spectacular glimpse into the futuristic world of Tomorrowland when he's chosen to be one of the "dreamers" who might be able to figure out ways to save the planet.
The adult Frank Walker is shocked when he meets Casey (Britt Robertson), a teen girl who's also been chosen to be a "dreamer," but doesn't understand the mission.
Together, Frank and Casey must figure out how to cross time and space to get to Tomorrowland, work against the deceptive Nix (Hugh Laurie) and save the planet.
While the film doesn't offer any specific solutions to climate change, it instead inspires its young audience members to enlist in the task of fixing the problems our world is facing now, before it's too late.
We applaud the filmmakers for taking this strong stance on the real issues that have been unfairly politicized. Utilizing Disney's optimistic point of view is a fantastic way to get this important message across. Certainly, there will be adults who will balk at the challenge, but the movie is wisely aimed a kids — the very ones who will be cleaning up our global mess for decades, if not centuries, to come.
Tomrorowland opens Friday, May 22.