Hello and welcome to the Grid. First of all, I recently purchased Disney+ and would like to mention a show that brought me to today’s franchise. If you love films like me, I would recommend a series called Prop Culture with Dan Lanigan. Dan is given access to the Disney archives to look at some of the props from some of their most beloved films and speak to the artists and actors involved in making them come to life. It really is a lot of fun and I hope they make more episodes in the future.
If you were born in the middle ages like me, then you must remember a world before the birth of the home computer. I guess we did have a computer at school that used a floppy disk the same size of a mouse mat but a calculator was about as cutting edge you could really get. I think the point I’m trying to make is that when Tron was released in 1982, it was giving you a glimpse into a world that didn’t really exist in our lives yet. It’s been a very long time since I last watched Tron and I will admit that some of the digital effects haven’t aged well but this film still feels important and still ahead of its time.
Before I start, I would just like to say this is not a review of the film but just a look back at what I enjoy about it and where it stands now. What I like about Tron is the idea that sentient life could be created in a digital world that the human race has created. Okay, the story is pretty solid as Flynn Jeff Bridges and Tron Bruce Boxleitner take on the ENCOM Master Control but it was the visual style of the film that still catches my attention. I guess what I really love the most about Tron is the vision, hard work and determination, director and writer Steven Lisberger and his team endured to create the film.
Tron is a mixture of backlit animation, live-action and some of the first computer-generated images used on-screen, to say the film was difficult to make could be an understatement. To be honest, I learnt all this just from The Making of Tron of YouTube and it’s worth a watch. The design of this film is breath-taking and when you put Syd Mead and Moebius together you get some amazing work. On the featurette, you get to look at some early concept storyboards and backgrounds and its some of the best artwork ever. I really love some of the costumes used for the characters and Dumont Barnard Hughes is as experimental as you can get, it’s bonkers.
David Warner’s amazing performance, the Light Cycles, I could go on and on but simply there are a lot of original and unique ideas in this film that makes it’s brilliant. Basically, I think we are very lucky Tron actually seen the light of day after the issues with developing film, months of painstaking animation and inventing the technology needed as they went along. I think it’s a shame that some people regard it as a failure for Disney, but is it really?
First of all, Tron was not a failure at the box office, it made $50 million from a $17 million budget. I guess the only real pressure on director Steven Lisberger was that Disney wanted something as big as Star Wars and it never really happened that way. I think it’s interesting that Disney really wasn’t the powerhouse it is now in the early ’80s and George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and other younger directors had really taken a grip on Hollywood. To be honest, this is what makes the film unique, it’s basically like the board at Disney had to give the power to the artists and trusted them in creating something new, because they simply didn’t have a clue. I think that is why people love the film, it’s because you can see it’s made with a lot of passion and conviction.
In 2010, Disney released Tron Legacy and I have to admit, I think that film is also pretty fantastic. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, some also regard as underrated in the movie business which only adds to the franchise’s cult status. I think the highlight of the film is definitely the score by Daft Punk and I listened to that a lot, even before the film was released. I think the song Outlands is a masterpiece. The second time around and Disney still dont have their blockbuster franchise but is that really what matters?
To be honest, NO, I think that’s one of the reasons why it is so brilliant. Tron was created by artists but kept alive by the fans. Disney now has Star Wars and what a mess that’s turned out to be!! What’s happening with Star Wars is not necessarily Disney’s fault, it’s down to the fans as well but I will save that for another day. You can compare Tron with Star Wars, Bladerunner, or any other science-fiction film, but for me, it stands alone. I’m obviously just an armchair supporter of the film but I just wanted to tip my hat to the real fans that have kept it alive all these years. Could there be more Tron in the future, I’m not so sure and judging by the expansion of other franchises, is it what Tron needs?