WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF TOMORROW! Land. It’s time for Saxon and Jehan to strap on their jetpacks, find their magical pins and evade a squad of robot assassins as they seek to get to the bottom of Tomorrowland, the new family adventure movie from Disney and director Brad Bird. We consider the journey of Bird’s career to date and how it informs this very curious blockbuster, while pondering the Big Questions in Life: what’s with all the smiley robots? When is too much mystery a bad thing? Is Brad Bird an Ayn Rand-loving monster? And is it time we found a solution to the Damon Lindelof Problem? ALL OF THE ANSWERS LIE WITHIN!
A minor tech-related note: due to issues with the processing of this episode, there is no ending music this time around. You should not be alarmed, nor should you continue listening in dead silence for hours after the podcast has finished, waiting for the outtro music to provide you with your cue to return to normal life. Our sincere apologies!
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(The opening and closing music on the podcast is ‘Ouroboros’ by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)
WARNING – some spoilers for Tomorrowland contained within.
Politics can be a divisive business, and it’s no surprise that a lot of people simply hate talking about it, especially when it comes to appreciating and enjoying art and media. But it’s equally true that it’s frequently a topic that can’t really be avoided, especially since so much of art, culture and human expression is inherently political, whether it means to be or not. When you’re a fan of the filmmaker Brad Bird – whose new film Tomorrowland is now playing in cinemas – avoiding politics is nigh-on impossible, and the resulting discussion can often be fractious and tricky to navigate.
Bird is, after all, an extremely political filmmaker, and one whose specific ideology has proven tough for many people to get to grips with, given its unexpected and unconventional nature. He’s primarily known as a purveyor of family entertainments – from his background as a Disney animator to his tenures on The Simpsons and at Pixar – and we’re used to mainstream family entertainments being relatively unchallenging in their political character, usually settling for broadly universal self-empowerment themes, with a dash of left-leaning acceptance and diversity messaging. That’s not really Bird’s style, though – he’s a much more overtly didactic filmmaker, and deviates from the standard script often enough that his philosophy has become distinctive, recognisable and – to a certain degree – controversial. With Tomorrowland, he’s released his most message-driven movie to date, which makes this a good time to have a look at what makes this supremely talented yet oddly divisive filmmaker tick.