Tomorrowland, currently in theaters, paints the picture of the perfect society, engineered by the world’s greatest thinkers, where people buzz about on jetpacks and hop aboard rocket ships as casually as catching the bus.
There’s a draw-dropping moment when our heroine Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) boards a hovering monorail for a grand tour of this futuristic utopia: Swimming pools resembling giant petri dishes are suspended in the air among spiraling skyscrapers. The floating vessels are bottomless, allowing swimmers to dive through one pool and freefall into another below it.
It’s a stunning sequence inspired by director Brad Bird’s (The Incredibles) boyhood fantasy of defying the physics of swimming. In an interview with Vanity Fair he says …
"I’ve had that dream for a long time,” he says. “My parents told me stories of me going to the bottom of the pool and then diving in after me, because they thought I was drowning. I just liked swimming around and having my body be able to float in any direction. I’ve always wanted to be able to enter water and step out of it and go beneath it. Like a blob I could go in and out of.”
As our sweeping tour continues, we see massive man-made bodies of turquoise water adjacent to Jetsons-like edifices and winding freeways, suggesting that swimming pools are an integral part of life in this alternative dimension of Earth. Look closely and you’ll see built-in bench seating. Someone on the movie’s VFX crew was an appreciator of pools.
So, among all the grim news about lawmakers putting restrictions on the pool industry amid California's historic drought, it’s nice to see swimming pools figuring prominently in a utopian vision.
Even if it’s just science fiction.
Off the Deep End is an occasional blog from AI senior editor Nate Traylor. Follow him @n8traylor.com