At the risk of temporarily turning this blog into a Tomorrowland fan blog, I must say that I was fascinated to find that the Tomorrowland novelisation was quite different at certain points. It’s an easy read of a few hours, being 160 or so pages in plain English meant for young adults, and is skip-able in places where the action is the same as in the movie.
The novel has additional information about the back-story that’s unavailable in the prequel novels / ARG / comic-book / deleted scenes etc. Those interested in what deleted scenes might be on the Blu-ray, and also any Tomorrowland fan-fiction writers, may be interested in the changes and differences — along with the Plus Ultra timeline that’s been drawn from the above sources. So I’ve spent 30 minutes typing up my rough notes on the novel’s differences.
Warning! Spoilers, if you’ve not yet seen the movie or read the novelisation:
1. Young Frank’s aggressive farmer father tells Frank that his childish optimism won’t mow the cornfield. Frank invents a device to automatically steer his father’s combine harvester. Frank also sets fire to the corn when he uses his jet-pack, a scene that is known to have been filmed and was the original opening of the movie.
2. At the 1964 World’s Fair, Frank sees an exhibit that claims to use a computer to accurately predict the random fall of balls on a pinball-like table. This foreshadows the functioning of The Monitor. (It’s possible this was filmed, since it has been refered to — by ARG fans who saw early footage — as the “IBM pavilion ‘Probability Machine.'” and they were able to quote the dialogue spoken. They also noted a scene of a close call with a costumed The White Rabbit, and Frank looking admiringly at Father Progress on the Carousel of Progress. They also spotted that Michael Giacchino, the film’s composer, plays the Small World ride’s boat-loader).
3. Young Frank’s conversation with Nix at the World’s Fair reveals that he had learned, from reading of failures at Bell Labs, how not to build a jetpack.
4. In the novel, Casey also lives with her TV-slumped Uncle and dull cousins Mikey and Clarissa. They are unseen, but mentioned.
5. The scenes in Casey’s school classes omits her question of: “So, what are can we do to fix it?” (The movie also filmed a scene with Casey in detention at school, which might follow on from her question — the detention is not in the novel).
6. During the car ride home from the police cells, Casey’s dad tells her he’s been fired. The site demolition foreman had assumed that Casey’s father had asked her to do the sabotage to keep him in work.
7. The Blast From the Past shop staff tell Casey details of the augmented reality system connected to the pins, that Disney was “one of Plus Ultra”, that Disneyland was “just a cover” for Plus Ultra training, and that “they” (Plus Ultra) were planning to go public at the 1964 World’s Fair.
8. While driving to Frank’s house, Athena uses her robot eyes to project the video of a 3-year old Casey that is seen in the movie. Athena says that she found it on YouTube and that it had led her to Casey.
9. While driving to Frank’s house, across the empty spaces of the mid-west, the only radio Casey and Athena can pick up is hellfire evangelical preachers ranting about the end-of-days. Athena turns off the radio, with “strange black eyes” that Casey assumes is the equivalent of robot tears.
10. Athena reveals that she was built in 1957.
11. Frank still lives on the old family farm. He has been a total recluse, but has lately struggled with himself enough to at least go out once a week.
12. Nix hasn’t aged much since 1964, but he claims not to be a robot. He says there are “just enough” people in Tomorrowland to keep the city running, and talks of the need to gather massive power to feed The Monitor (named “The Oracle” in the novel).
13. There is a scene of robots returning through a portal “bridgeway” from Earth, carrying away great art, literature and memorabilia to save it from the coming destruction.
14. Casey doesn’t see a ‘Monitor prediction’ of Earth demonstrations and other moments / types of destruction, simply the devastated Earth as it is three months after the “Inevitability” (doomsday). The Monitor cannot see three months either side of the moment of destruction, “because of the radiation”. This implies nuclear destruction, but those in Tomorrowland are uncertain of the precise cause of what they call the “Inevitability”.
15. When The Monitor was first built, the chances of the “Inevitability” (doomsday) were 1 in 10. Gradually, the odds became slimmer and slimmer. Nix decided (secretly?) to change or boost the Monitor so as to subtly inculcate a feeling of pessimism in humanity, hoping it would shock them into action. Instead, his actions had an unexpected effect — Nix found that humanity took a perverse delight in its new-found pessimism. As he says, pessimism demands nothing of one today, and no thought for tomorrow. Presumably he then tried to increase the effect, vainly hoping that ever-higher levels of pessimism might shock humanity awake.
16. Casey’s realisation of the Monitor’s unintended pessimistic effect is developed a little more slowly in the novel, with a montage of flashbacks.
17. Frank talks of his ability to detect and pirate the Monitor’s signal on Earth being because Nix was turning the Monitor “on and off”. Nix later contradicts this by saying that Monitor cannot be turned off, since it now powers the city. The unspoken implication is that Nix is lying and that he has been secretly turning the Monitor off briefly, perhaps in order to siphon the vast power to some sort of machine that keeps him so young. Such an action might also grimly help explain the under-population of the city.
18. Nix accepts Frank’s handshake at the portal because he had been Frank’s old mentor and teacher. He has been the Governor since at least 1964.
19. Athena remembers and states the exact date of Frank’s exile: 24th April 1984, when he was presumably aged about 29. She says the date is forever burned into her memory.
20. The moment before Frank straps on a Tomorrowland jet-pack and takes off with Athena, he cracks a joke, and so finally makes her laugh. While living in Tomorrowland he had never managed to make her laugh like a human.
21. All the robots/androids stop working when the Monitor is destroyed. (In the film, in contrast, it appears that a few dusty androids emerge cautiously from the ruins to peer at their two liberators). In the novel, Frank and Casey survey the ruins of the city for a longer time.
22. There is a very different pre-credits ending. This is much more low-key and less glitzy / ‘Benetton ad’ than the movie’s ending. You’ll have to buy the book for that one 🙂 Or wait for the Blu-ray, as I’m assuming this is the alternate ending that the director says was filmed.
Also… (warning: more big spoilers)
Raffey Cassidy (Athena) said in a press interview with Marybeth Hamilton (“Exclusive: Raffey Cassidy on the Secret of Athena’s Blue Dress in Tomorrowland!”) that there was a scene where the camera was inside a monorail, the monorail car drew up to a stop, the doors opened and beyond the doors the camera looked straight at Athena and Frank (adult, played by Clooney) waiting on the platform, who were looking into the opened monorail doors at Casey. It’s not in the theatrical release. I wonder if that was one of the alternative endings? An interview with Lindelof seems to confirm something that sounds like this, he said there’s a portrayal of Casey in the deleted scenes for Tomorrowland that shows another Casey (growing into adulthood?) and “shows the evolution of where we ended up” after the movie.
For that monorail doors scene to work as an ending, the current pre-credits scenes would presumably have been cut after about the “glowing trees” scene in the movie. Instead we might have had a voiceover monologue from Casey with a montage of scenes showing: the novelization’s alternative ending on Earth (not in the movie); the “come and help us, Dad” scene from the movie; impressionistic scenes of getting the city back into working order again; Casey wistfully watching the new generation of recruiter robots depart through the portals, and being sorry that none of them look like Athena. Then the big recruitment/wheat-field climax. Fade to black. Then fade slowly up into a coda with Casey riding the monorail, maybe older, re-construction and new life all around, Dad off doing his thing at the spaceport, which he’s called her over to visit because he has a ‘surprise’. Her voiceover says that Frank is so busy these days, on some mysterious project, so that she hardly sees him. The future looks bright, of course, but she often feels the need of old friends and like minds to get her bearings in the whirl of the new world. The monorail doors open… the movie ends with a scene of Frank and Athena on the platform, looking at Casey, spaceport in the background. Frank smiles, Athena also smiles, and cocks her head to the side in a slightly robotic manner. Frank wears a spacesuit and carries a helmet. Athena tells Casey: “We’ve saved a seat, just for you…” and holds out a space helmet. Casey is going to stars, just like her 3-year old self had hoped. Fade to black.
The implication that the audience would be left with is that Frank has had Athena re-made… (the prequel novel talks of how robots are only partly ‘in’ their shell and have a sort of collective remote backup mind – so with that and Frank’s genius, it’s possible).
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