Tomorrowland: Will Optimism Save the World?

Warning: Some Spoilers

Tomorrowland may not be the best movie to come out of Disney’s workshop over the years, technically speaking. However, as someone who spends most of his movie-watching time analyzing worldviews, it was a particularly fun movie for this reviewer. The entire movie hinges on the philosophical battle between optimism and pessimism. The main character, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), is a brilliant young dreamer who is faced with the world’s doom. In the early scenes of the movie, Casey is assailed by her teachers’ endless lectures about how the world was coming to an inevitable end. In the face of all the problems, the audience is faced with the real problems of the world. In light of these problems, the whole movie is driven by questions of whether or not the world can be saved, and if so, how can it be saved?

The majority of the characters in the movie are on the side of pessimism. Throughout most of the movie, Casey is teamed-up with the once boy-genius Frank Walker (George Clooney). Frank, was recruited by a secret society of brilliant scientists (the titular Tomorrowland) while he was a young boy, still dreaming of changing the world with science. After getting a glimpse at the tragic future of the world Frank became disillusioned and gives up on his dream. In the same way, the society of Tomorrowland, had given up on doing anything to save the doomed world, abandoning the people to their tragic fate (and even driving them further towards it). All in all, these two parties embodied the pessimism that prevented Tomorrowland from being able to save the world.

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While it seems that everyone else has given up on the world, Casey maintains an optimistic view towards the future. As the movie progresses, Casey is driven to literally defy the odds and save the world. Her refusal to never give up and seek change creates a chance for a brighter world by the end of the story. Even though Casey’s drive is laudable and makes her a hero in the end, we must ask if pure optimism is enough to save the world.

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Despite what may be quickly drawn from this movie, there is more to having the proper mentality for saving the world than just pure optimism. To this point, the early 20th century writer G.K. Chesterton argued that optimism has its value, but more is needed. Before a positive view of Earth can be of any value for solving the world’s problems, “patriotism,” or a love for the world, is needed. Patriotism allows the person to see the real flaws in the world, ones which pure optimism might choose to ignore, and seeks to fix them. The driving force in this system is not simply optimism, it is a real love of the world which pushes the person to make the world better. There is no doubt that it was this love for the world that drove Casey to great lengths to save it, and the lack of this love that allowed the members of Tomorrowland to abandon it. In the end, it is the force of this greater love that truly fuels an attempt to save the world.

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