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ELEC-TRON-IC A cheated and spurned former computer programmer, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), of computer company ENCOM has become an arcade owner and operator. While trying to reclaim his stolen work he enlists the help of two former coworkers and current employees of ENCOM, Lora (Cindy Morgan) and Alan (Bruce Boxleitner). However they are up against Dillinger (David Warner), ENCOM’s unrightfully elected man in control, and the even more controlling super computer known as Master Control Program (MCP). Master Control has been absorbing other programs, thus becoming stronger and stronger.
Flynn, Lora, and Alan break in to ENCOM and attempt to distract Master Control while Flynn hacks into Master Control’s system long enough to find his stolen work and get back out again. However, things take a turn when Master Control uses an experimental laser to literally digitize Flynn into the cyber world of its inner workings. Welcome to the world of TRON!
Once inside Master Control's innards, Flynn is assumed to be a computer program by the other digital denizens. Master Control is bent on Flynn’s destruction, but not before putting him into "the games," a series of gladiator-style obstacles. While in a holding cell he meets two programs, one named Ram and the other named Tron. They set out together to attempt to shut down and destroy Master Control. Let the games begin!
PRETTY AS A PIXEL The world of TRON is a velvet black light poster crossed with the simplicity of an arctic horizon - it’s jagged, it glows. TRON’s computer effects are a tad dated, but completely unique. It’s dated look is obviously due to the state of computer generated imagery of the day. It was one of the first films, however, to use such an amount of CGI.
Its inner worldly design was contributed to by two of my personal favorite designers, Syd Mead and Jean Giraud.
Syd Mead has contributed a gracious amount to modern science fiction. He started in the world of transportation design in the Advanced Styling Center at Ford Motor Company. His design work can be seen in films such as Bladerunner, Aliens, and the bulk of the Star Trek film franchise and television series.
Jean Giraud (a.k.a. Moebius to comic book fans) lends his visionary senses here as well. He is known for his amazing comic book work and as an original founder of the French comic magazine, Heavy Metal. He’s lent his vision to films like Alien, Willow, The Abyss, and The Fifth Element.
The costumes of TRON strongly resemble supercharged exercise suits. They are brilliantly lit through photographic effects and copious amounts of detailed rotoscoping. Think of reflective tape.
SWITCHED-ON TRON The score to TRON was composed by the electronic wunderkind Wendy Carlos. Wendy’s work is also known to Stanley Kubrick fans from the films A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. Another staple of her work is the album Switched-On Bach. Not only did the music for TRON accompany the film but it was also used in the video game that was spawned from the film. The soundtrack was released on CD in 2002 for the first time!
END OF THE LINETRON will no doubt have new life breathed back into it from the upcoming release of its sequel TRON: Legacy. It took them almost 30-some years! Jeff Bridges reprises his role. The score for the sequel is done by Daft Punk this time around. The current state of technological wizardry should bring this chapter of TRON into a whole new level of game play.
TRON was nominated for two Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Sound.