"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it is going to be a butterfly."
— R. Buckminster Fuller
Take your pick: futurist, engineer, inventor, architect, mathematician, cartographer, philosopher, cosmologist, poet, comprehensive designer, visionary. Any one of these careers would fit R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983). As he probed the universe and traced the growth in his own consciousness, this genius preached a gospel of unity in a transformational world.
What does R. Buckminster Fuller have to do with the film The House of Tomorrow? He's the inspiration for it.
Sebastian Prendergast (Asa Butterfield), whose parents died in an accident, lives with his eccentric grandmother Josephine (Ellen Burstyn) in the first geodesic dome built in their Minnesota town. Enamored of Fuller, she leads tourists through the geometric structure designed to provide maximum beauty, efficiency, and ecological value.
Sebastian is being home-schooled by his grandmother who hopes that he will aspire to be a visionary like Buckminster Fuller and will help to fulfill a plan for a brand new alterative universe. Living inside a bubble, this teenager is socially awkward and cut off from the culture of his time.
All that changes when he is befriended by Jared (Alex Wolff), a cynical young man with a transplanted heart who wants to fuel his rebelliousness and power by forming his own punk rock band. When Sebastian hears this raucous music, it speaks to the wild man within that up to this point has remained dormant. He decides to pay Jared for lessons in punk music. At the same time, he is captivated by the erotic mysteries proffered to him by Jared's sister Meredith (Maude Apatow).
Peter Livolsi directs this dramady with just the right blend of whimsy, adolescent angst, and the honoring of the fierce quest of misfits for freedom. The screenplay based on Peter Bognanni's' novel makes creative use of all the references to the ever-inventive philosopher and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller. (We especially liked how he incorporated a true-life film clip of Ellen Burstyn on a boat with Fuller.) Here are a few connections to play with:
- The geodesic dome uses tension as its basic structural principle. What tensions propel Sebastian to a new way of living? What tensions have that effect for you?
- "Don't fight forces, use them," Fuller stated again and again. What forces are knocking on the door of your heart?
- Fuller saw himself as a "publicity agent for the universe." What would you point to as the best-selling point of the universe?
- "Whenever I draw a circle, I want to step out of it." This was a favorite way in which R. Buckminster Fuller used to describe himself. What circles have you stepped out of to become your true self?