For six seasons, Damon Lindelof’s Lost tossed out some of the most intriguing mysteries since the heyday of The X-Files. While many would argue whether the eventual answers were satisfying or just frustrating, it was still a hell of a ride trying to figure it all out during the show’s run. Now it looks like Lindelof is back with his usual bag of tricks, taking to Twitter to tease us about the super-secret science fiction film he’s working on with director Brad Bird. So, what does Lindelof have for us? A mysterious box, filled with equally mysterious contents.
Very little is known about the film, so far referred to as 1952, beyond the involvement of Bird, Lindelof, and actor George Clooney in the lead role. It’s rumored to involve aliens, and comparisons have been made to Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. So how does the box up above figure in? In true Lindelof fashion, the backstory is filled with mystery and unanswered questions.
Here’s how the story goes: Last spring, Lindelof met with Disney head of production Sean Bailey. After that meeting, Lindelof was given access to the box above, which is said to contain documents left over from Walt Disney’s WED Enterprises, the precursor to the company’s so-called “Imagineering” development branch. The box is labeled with the name of Disney’s 1965 movie That Darn Cat, but that title has been scratched out, replaced with that same cryptic number: 1952. Supposedly the box includes documents left over from an alien-related Disney project, but exactly what remains to be seen. A movie? A theme park ride? The only thing that’s clear at this point is that, somehow, those documents are involved in 1952, whether as primary inspiration or simple influence. (Assuming it isn’t all just a bit of viral marketing.)
Lindelof tweeted the first picture of the box yesterday, but now Brad Bird is getting in on the act. Bird sent out another shot of the box, this time with it actually open so we can see the contents. You can click the image for a larger version.
There’s a lot of to examine in the clutter, but a few things can be made out. The pictures look to be Disney himself with some unidentifiable others. There’s a Technicolor box, a record, a blue book of some sort (Blastr says it’s titled “Moral Research,” but their eyes must be better than mine), numerous folders and envelopes, and a piece of equipment under the Technicolor box. A camera perhaps? I can’t tell.
Perhaps most intriguing is what appears to be a copy of Amazing Stories, seen with the yellow cover and the trademark oversized A. Could the inspiration for 1952 be found inside that magazine? Well, let’s do a little detective work, shall we?
The cover is mostly obscured, but a quick Google search for Amazing Stories magazine turned up numerous vintage cover images. The one that caught my eye is this one, from August 1928.
It’s impossible to make a positive identification, but there are several telling details. First, the coloring of the logo varied from issue to issue, but the red letter with light blue backing does seem to match up with the cover from Disney’s box. Secondly, take a look at the lower right corner of both the full magazine cover above and the one in the box. If you look closely, they do seem to match: the trees, as well as the woman in the purple dress.
So if that magazine is the August 1928 Amazing Stories, and assuming that it might hold the keys to 1952, what stories were included in that issue? Well, the flying dude on the cover is from the first installment of E.E. “Doc” Smith and Lee Hawkins Garby’s The Skylark of Space, which was first serialized in Amazing Stories before eventually being collected as a novel. This issue also contained the first appearance of Buck Rogers, in Philip Francis Nowlan’s story “Armageddon 2419 A.D.” Then there’s H.G. Wells’ “The Moth,” which is about a rivalry between two scholars…no obvious clues there.
The last two stories are considerably more obscure. The most I can find about Joe Kleier’s “The Head” is that it is about a man’s disembodied, virtually immortal head, and that “we see future history through its eyes — not pleasant history.” As for Henry Hugh Simmons’ “The Perambulating Home,” it is pretty much exactly what the title suggests: a house that can move. Neither of those seem like obvious inspirations for 1952.
It’s an intriguing thought that the magazine might hold some clues, but without any context it’s impossible to guess what. And even that is assuming that the key to 1952 isn’t in one of the other items in the box; those envelopes could contain damn near anything. Of the collected stories, Skylark and Buck Rogers come the closest to possibly fitting the description of “a man makes contact with aliens,” but both of them are a real stretch.
Stay tuned for more info on 1952 as it becomes available, but remember: if that issue of Amazing Stories does prove to be relevant, you heard it here first!