Disney’s new epic paints a world of flying cars and sleek robots. Thanks to a long legacy of life imitating cinematic art, I’m just hoping it means I get a jetpack soon.
Have you ever stopped to think about how many of the things we take for granted were invented by TV shows and films gone by? Because it’s a lot. Let me give you just one example: Star Trek. Love it or hate it, it’s had a pretty sizeable impact on popular culture. I’m in the first camp. I even have the costume. I know, I know – but there are pictures of me wearing it on the Internet, there’s no sense in denying it. But even if you’re squarely in the latter category, you’ve benefited from all those cardboard aliens going where no one has gone before. At least you have if you’ve ever used a flip phone, iPad or automatic door. Mimicking communicators, Personal Access Display Devices (or PADDs for short) and sensor doors respectively, they were all Star Trek inventions. Well, the idea of them was. And that’s where the magic begins.
Star Trek Personal Access Display Device.
There’s a truly incredible scope for unbridled creativity on screen. There are no manufacturing nuances or pesky gravity to get in the way – you’re limited by nought but your imagination. The world’s engineers and designers grow up watching the same films we do, so it stands to reason some of them go on to bring these ideas into the real world. Tomorowland is one such edifying film. It’s basically every child’s dream come to life – the escapism, the robots, the gizmos. I have little doubt its innards will reach out and touch the imagination of several future movers and shakers, spurring them onto things we can scarcely imagine. That’s the entire point of the movie, in fact.
The idea that the flawed but nevertheless Utopian world it depicts could ever come to life may seem far fetched – what with all the dimensional shifts and magical pins – but the precedents exist. Recently, I was in Taiwan when a tiny robot bumped into my foot as it went about its business tidying the floors and I had a flashback to the garbage collecting robots we saw in WALL-E. Moreover, Marty McFly’s self-fitting sneakers from Back To The Future have finally been accomplished by Nike – in this, the exact same year they were invented in the film. Weebo, the lovable hovering robot from Flubber has essentially been realised in Apple’s Siri and the photo-realistic digital world from Tron has basically been achieved through Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming technology. We even have the floating droids from Star Wars – only ours shoot film footage instead of lasers. The same sci-fi movie franchise imagined prosthetic limbs that look like the real thing, complete with artificial nerve endings – again, something we’re close to achieving today.
I’m not the only one who wants a jetpack either, ask any 10-year-old or, Walt Disney himself. Were he still with us I’m sure he’d be heading the charge. This entire movie is something of an homage to his vision for the future, in fact – and the original Tomorrowland attraction he opened in his namesake park back in 1955. That may have been a solid six decades ago now, but there’s no time limit on ingenuity when it comes to the realisation of a dream. The real gift of this, or any film is the notion of zero boundaries – of completely indefinable and indefinite imagination. So if there are inventors out there reading this with a jetpack on the drawing board… put me down for two. I promise I’m good for it.
Check out Tomorrowland in cinemas from 28 May 2015.
Which tech gadget from a movie would you like to see come to life? Tell us below…