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Entry updated 16 February 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1982) Lisberger/Kushner/Walt Disney. Directed by Steven Lisberger. Written by Lisberger, from a story by Lisberger, Bonnie MacBird. Cast includes Bruce Boxleitner, Jeff Bridges, Cindy Morgan and David Warner. 96 minutes. Colour.

In this pleasing but lightweight film, a young man (Bridges) seeks evidence about dirty work in the Computer company from which he has just resigned. Smuggled into the firm's building by friends, he is laser-deconstructed by the Master Control Program (or MCP) software, which rules the Virtual Reality within which he comes to consciousness as a subprogram Avatar (along – just as in Oz – with analogues of two friends programmed by them to help him out). There follows, disappointingly, a standard Good-against-Evil struggle involving Bridges, the male friend's anti-MCP program Tron (both played by Boxleitner) and the MCP's hench-program Sark (Warner), itself an analogue of a real-life corporate evil-doer. All this is played out in a somewhat austere computer-generated landscape resembling that of a rather good Videogame of the period. The film has moments of wit, and a stunning last shot where the now reconstituted hero looks down on the streets of Los Angeles at night, for all the world like the computer grid from which he has escaped. This suggests that perhaps the whole film is a light-hearted text about determinism, but most of it aspires to being little more than a wide-screen arcade-game scenario.

A financial disappointment for Disney at the time, the film was a pioneer in the use of computer graphics in special effects and the attempt to incorporate elements of Virtual-Reality gaming experience into the grammar of film. Disney would eventually recoup its investment with a lucrative franchise of spin-off games, and revive the property on film with the lavish sequel Tron: Legacy (2010). The novelization is Tron (1982) by Brian Daley. [PN/DRL/NL]

see also: Jean Giraud.


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