17/09/2013

Tron (1982)

Film: Tron
Release: 1982, theatrical
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner
Directed by: Steven Lisberger
Next in the series: Tron: Legacy
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: Having lost the rights to his own creations, the programming prodigy Flynn breaks into the major corporation where he used to work in order to hack the company mainframe and prove his claim - What he finds is more amazing than he would've ever believed possible.

Hans' thoughts:

The year is 1982, the computer as we know it has yet to exist. In spite of the success of the Apple II, Personal computers wouldn't be a normal occurrence in everyday households till the mid 1990's. Cyberspace was considered a new frontier, possible to go wherever we might choose and most people knew about purely through the popularity of arcade games. Along comes Tron, a small out of place science fiction movie produced by a (at the time) stagnating Disney corporation and directed by a complete no-name whose biggest success till then had been an animated special to accompany the TV-broadcast of the 1980 winter olympics. 

Tron is nothing if at least not interesting, in it the creators have managed to predict a lot of things about cyberspace and computers that wouldn't become fact for years to come. Every computer in the world has access to each other, akin to the internet you're using right now and at one point the main character plays on something that looks distinctly like what the game boy would eventually be revealed to look like. It also predicted the dualism of people with their online use, every human actor portraying their counterpart in the cyberspace world Flynn enters. 

The cyberspace world also has a lot of spiritual elements, the "users" (humans) are revered as gods by the programs they control and getting in contact with their user is portrayed in the movie as a deep religious experience. The unit used for contact with the real world looking like a giant temple and the program controlling it looks like an otherworldly priest or sage. The world of cyberspace is done mostly as glowing circuits or grids on black backgrounds, giving the movie a very unique look. The suits civilian programs are wearing look almost like they're wearing togas, otherwise being completely white with their circuits visible in some color. The societies structure, almost like ancient rome during the reformation to christianity in it's use of gladiator battles and religious persecution.

The movie is laden with otherworldly (if a bit poorly dated) imagery and accurate predictions of the very future we now live in. I suspect the cult-status and low success of this movie is merely because it was so ahead of it's time, being a tale of wariness towards a technology that, at best, speculative at the time. If you like movies like The Matrix, this is very like it. With the ongoing boom of technology we live in, the story is perhaps as relevant today as it ever would've been in the past and it is recommended for modern viewers for both this reason and the sheer entertainment value of the piece.
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