'Before Tomorrowland' Book Details the Mythology of the Film

Thursday, 09 April 2015 - 5:09PM
Tomorrowland
Thursday, 09 April 2015 - 5:09PM
'Before Tomorrowland' Book Details the Mythology of the Film
When news of the project first came out, Tomorrowland was notorious for being "Disney's secret project," and it has remained relatively enigmatic since then. But now, a prequel novel called Before Tomorrowland is hitting bookstores, and if it doesn't contain actual plot spoilers, it certainly spoils the mythology of the film.

The official description of the book reads, "The year is 1939. A secret society of extraordinary geniuses is about to share an incredible discovery with the world. A misguided enemy—half man, half machine—will stop at nothing to prevent the group from giving this forbidden knowledge to humanity. And a mother and son on vacation in New York City are handed a comic book infused with a secret code that will lead them straight into the crossfires of the conspiracy."

"It's a distant prequel to the movie," author Jeff Jensen told EW. "You will not meet any characters from the movie in this story, but you will get to know in a pretty deep way the organization that's responsible for Tomorrowland."

Jensen, who has a close professional relationship with Tomorrowland writer Damon Lindelof, was essentially the "mythology consultant" for both Tomorrowland and Lindelof's mythology-heavy television show, Lost. Jensen consulted on the mythology of the film, and Lindelof and director Brad Bird, in turn, consulted heavily on the story of the novel. The novel is comparable to an elaborate backstory for the Dharma Initiative, as it details the backstory of the organization that will eventually create Tomorrowland.

"The city was the grand gesture of this organization," said Jensen. "It wasn't the goal of the group from the start, but over time it became the goal: A living laboratory where things are always changing and the best ideas are either given to the world or saved for a time when the world can handle it."

The secret organization of founders is called Plus Ultra, which is "a riff off of the Latin phrase Non Plus Ultra," Jensen says. "In antiquity, it was the warning the gods gave to man to stay away from certain regions of the world where monsters may dwell. I believe it translates as 'nothing further beyond.' It's also a metaphor for hubris, and 'Know your limits, mankind.'"

"We loved the idea of Plus Ultra, that it would be adopted by a new era of exploration, but in a different regard, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and possibility, and it would be adopted by the founding fathers of this organization: Jules Verne, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Gustav Eiffel," said Jensen. "They formed this society at the 1889 World's Fair in Paris where the Eiffel Tower was premiered."

But, Jensen clarified, the organization is not purely idealistic, but has rather ominous undertones. In the spirit of "know your limits, mankind," he claims that their arc is reminiscent of an Icarus story: "The history we conceived for Plus Ultra shows it's ultimately a dysfunctional organization of huge egos. They develop a lot of stuff that is really cool for mankind, but sometimes they went way too far and damaged mankind or damaged the Earth. Their history was this constant cycle of pushing and dreaming and coming up with great things … and then folly and hubris and going too far. Then constantly regenerating itself over and over again like that."

Click here for EW's in-depth summary of the book, which is now available to order and in stores. Tomorrowland comes out in theaters on May 22.
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