This article contains spoilers.
I didn’t understand Tomorrowland. I was confused by the plot, and I wasn’t sure what the crisis was and how it was resolved. I’m pretty sure that the world was about to end, and that the film’s heroes had to save it, but I can’t really tell you how they did it.
So, as far as technical movie reviews go, I’d have to put Tomorrowland low on the totem pole of Disney’s attempts at sci-fi.
But Tomorrowland had one of the most inspiring messages I’ve ever come across. It moved me to tears—and not the nice little tears you can dab away from your face with your forefinger, but the fat ones that make snot clog your nose and turn your eyes red and puffy. It was a truly beautiful ending to a very confusing movie.
After Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) and Frank Walker (George Clooney) save the day, the audience returns to the present day from the flashback and we see that Tomorrowland is being rebuilt. But Casey and Frank need help to complete the process of rebuilding, so they give Recruiters—human-looking robots—Tomorrowland pins to give to the people they find. The only requirement for these people? They must be dreamers.
“Dreamer” is one of those vague words that give dreamers “ooey-gooey” feelings inside and non-dreamers the impulse to roll their eyes. It’s Disney’s staple. In fact, “dreamers” and “magic” are synonymous for Disney. But that’s what Walt Disney was all about, right? “If you can dream it, do it,” he said. And that’s what Tomorrowland shows better than any other Disney film I’ve ever seen. Aside from the whole touch a pin and be transported to another world bit, it’s really very human, and it gets at the purpose of the Walt Disney Company.
When you drive into Disney World, what are the words that greet you? “Where dreams come true.”
When you watch Disney movies you often hear phrases like, “If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true,” or, “Go, live your dream”. And when you watch Tomorrowland, you see people from their mid-twenties to their sixties—from all different kinds of occupations, races, and locations from around the world—given pins. You know what they all have in common? They are all dreamers.
Frank Walker looks at the Recruiters and says to them before they leave, “Go out there and … find the ones who haven’t given up. They’re the future.” It just so happens that all of the people given pins are adults. Coincidence? Of course not.
For so long, Disney movies have been children’s films that adults can enjoy as well, but I think that Tomorrowland is the opposite. It’s a jeremiad for adults—it’s a call to action, if you will, for those who don’t necessarily relate to the “I want to be a princess” dream. It is for the dreamers who want to fight for justice as a judge, or who want to find a cure for cancer, or who want to protect the world from pollution. Unfortunately, when we think of Disney and dreams, we think of escaping from reality rather than the actual real world goals we should strive for.
But Walt Disney didn’t want that from his company. He believed in dreams of all shapes and sizes: “Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.” The real world can be intense and dark, but go to Disney World or turn on a Disney film, and you will find the opposite. The world needs more of that positivity if we want to change it; it needs people who haven’t given up. And to imply that you haven’t given up suggests that you have been giving it a go for quite some time.
Kids may not understand the plot of this movie. They likely won’t be as moved as adults will be by the ending, and they might wish that they had watched Frozen again instead. That is perfectly okay. But we older folks should pay a little more attention to the ending, for we can see Walt Disney in it. We can see the Walt Disney who had a dream and who never gave up despite adversity being thrown in his way. We can see the Walt Disney who created one of the greatest, most influential companies of all time. The world is a better place because of him.
And it can be a better place because of you. This is the message of Disney: the world needs dreamers to change it for the better. You have a dream, and it is special. It is unique to you. Hold onto it. Don’t give up. Pursuing your dream will be hard; it will be exhausting. But it will be worth it.
I’ll end with words of encouragement from the fiercest dreamer of them all:
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
– Walter Elias Disney
-Contributed by Camila Quinones