Tron and its legacy

I realise that this might not be the most well-known and loved sci-fi film of all times, but Tron does have a je-ne-seis-quoi that has made of it a bit of a cult film. When it first came out way back in 1982, it had to fight against other feature films such as Blade Runner and E.T. Not an easy task as you, my dear reader, can imagine. No wonder Tron is considered a box-office flop, but one that inspired a video game franchise, and which has managed to survive for almost three decades.

Tron (film)
Image via Wikipedia

I think that one of the most surprising things was the fact that Disney agreed to go ahead with a project so far removed from the typical animation that has become a trademark of the studios. Tron was one of the very first few films from a major studio in which the use of computer generated graphics was used extensively. So much so that it is said that some Disney animators refused to work in the project because they were afraid that the computers would replace them. Not only that but the Motion Picture Academy refused to nominate it for special effects because they said the filmakers ‘cheated’ by using computers. The film did, however, earn Oscar nominations in the categories of Best Costume Design and Best Sound. I wonder what the Academy makes out of more recent nominations, let alone the new Tron sequel?

In any case, I am sure we all remember the red and blue neon glow of the “agents” and the light cycles. The definitively 80s neon glow effect was achieved by filming the live-action scenes in black-and-white using back-lit screen projection on black sets.

If you are thinking of revisiting the film before the sequel “Tron legacy” comes out, pay attention to the special effects. They indeed are special, as Tron undeniably had an impact in the way we think about computers, video and CGI in modern films.

Now, if you have not seen the film or you simply forgot all about it, here is a brief synopsis: Kevin Flynn, a video game programmer played by Jeff Bridges, is abducted to a surreal “world” inside computers where programs are people fighting in games. He joins “Tron”, a security program played by Bruce Boxleitner, in his struggle to overthrow a dictatorial program known as MCP (Master Control Program), played by David Warner. In the new movie, Bridges re-plays Flynn, who has aged in the time between being lost in the virtual world in the first movie and the present. Almost thirty years have passed since the first film and I am looking forward to seeing Tron again.

The Hurt Locker

Last Sunday I had all the best intentions to go and finally see Martin Ritt’s “The spy that came from the cold”. We did try to make the appropriate bookings online. However, for one reason or other the BFI‘s website was not working properly. Being a nice sunny day (I know, it seems impossible to think about such a thing in London, but it indeed was nice and sunny) we thought that would make sense to go directly to the Southbank, grab a drink by the river and buy the tickets in the old fashion way.

The powers that be made sure that we were not to see Richard Burton playing the other side of the 007 coin. Determined to watch a film after all the effort of coming placed in getting to the Southbank, we decided to get tickets for the preview of Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film “The Hurt Locker”. The film follows a US bomb squad of the “Bravo Company” whose task is to disarm or control the detonation of “improvised explosive devices” (IED).

The film opens with a quote from Chris Hedges that equates the war experience with the effects of a very powerful drug. The semi-documentary style in which the film is shot gives it a definite air of authenticity and the acting is very convincing. I found very interesting the way in which the whole action takes places inside the squad itself and there is very little or no reference to politicians or even higher ranks within the military. The screenplay was written by Mark Boal who based it on his experiences with a real bomb squad.

The film is not a comment about the Iraq war itself, but a portrayal of the incongruences and horrors of war, any war, and contrasts those experiences with tedium of the typical American life-style by juxtaposing the violence of the battlefield, with the absurd consumerism in a supermarket with aisles piled up with cereal boxes.