Guilty Pleasures Film Festival 2013

“Tron”

Dan Shor, Jeff Bridges, and Bruce Boxleitner on the grid in 'Tron' (Disney, 1982)

Dan Shor, Jeff Bridges, and Bruce Boxleitner on the grid in ‘Tron’ (Disney, 1982)

I am a huge fan of Disney’s innovative live-action sci-fi pic Tron (1982). Released when I was a kid and at the height of the video arcade craze, the film tells the story of computer programmer Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges) and his journey into the digital world, aka “the grid,” to fight off the evil Master Control Program who has usurped control of all computer games and programs. On the grid, video games are more like gladiator fights to the death. And no one kicks butt on the grid like the computer program Tron (played by Bruce Boxleitner), who fights “for the users.” I distinctly remember seeing Tron in the movie theater in 1982 and knowing that I was watching something truly unique (I re-watched the film on Disney’s fantastic Blu-ray transfer released in 2011). It was one of the first films to extensively use computer generated graphics. The scenes on the grid were filmed using black and white film on blacked out sets with the actors wearing white costumes. The scenes were then hand painted in post production, giving them their unique color and glow. The process was so labor and cost intensive, it hasn’t been used since. With the influence of visual consultants Syd Mead, Jean “Moebius” Giraud, and Peter Lloyd, and special visual effects by Disney wizards Harrison Ellenshaw and Richard Taylor, the film has a visual aesthetic which I absolutely love. And while it may not have the most interesting plot in the world, the film is a guilty pleasure for me in all regards. Also stars Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes, and David Warner. Written and directed by Steven Lisberger. “On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy.”

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