A glitch in Tomorrowland
In Disney’s 2015 film Tomorrowland, scientists and inventors have created a parallel, utopian Earth, the “Tomorrowland” from which they had hoped to alter the course of our deeply flawed world. Something went terribly wrong and a pixyish female agent, Athena (Raffey Cassidy), recruits a daring teenage girl, Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), to make history right.
I watched the library DVD on June 22, 2016. As I neared the climax of the movie, Casey is using the Monitor time machine in Tomorrowland to travel to Cape Canaveral. Suddenly, the film stops and my TV is turned off. I examine the disc. There is neither a scratch nor a smudge. I reinsert the DVD and use the Scene Selection menu to return to where I had left off. The movie stops in exactly the same place and the TV turns off again.
I call it a night. The next day I use a cleaner disc to sweep my DVD player. I return to the Monitor scene. The show continues. (Spoiler Alert) Casey sees a future of devastating war and environmental disasters. The Monitor had been programmed by President Nix (Hugh Laurie) to warn people of a coming apocalypse but, instead of reacting positively, our generation eagerly embraced doomsday scenarios in our media and public discourse.
Casey believes Nix created a self-fulfilling prophecy. She argues that destroying the Monitor will end those bad vibes and reset the world but Nix wants to preserve the status quo, which includes protecting Tomorrowland from intruders.
Casey and her sometimes reluctant mentor, Frank Walker (George Clooney), prevail, destroy the Monitor, and reset history on a more optimistic path. But they could be wrong. The gods meddled with my DVD player and TV, signaling their displeasure with the script. Twice, they put a halt to the plot before Casey and Frank could change the future.
The gods have spoken: The apocalypse cannot be avoided. If it’s any consolation, the end of our way of life will be followed by a resurrection. It’s all part of a continuing cycle of creation, decay, death and regeneration.
Changing aspect The next film I watched on DVD after Tomorrowland was Deadfall, a 2012 crime thriller starring Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde. No problems. Then I watched The Great Budapest Hotel (2014) on June 26, which started with an advisory to set your TV for 16:9. I did nothing, the movie started and exactly fit my screen but about two-thirds of the way through the story, the aspect suddenly changed to 4:3 as in old TV shows, then, shortly before the end, the film switched to widescreen, with bars at the top and bottom.
The changes in aspect reminded me of the opening narrative in the old TV show The Outer Limits:
There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical . . .
The “adjustments” to my DVD viewing may be evidence that our reality is a “transmission” controlled by a higher power.
Image Tomorrowland poster, Walt Disney Pictures, et al, fair use