Tuesday, 7 August 2007
Graeme’s Retro Classics! ‘Tron’ (1982)
Welcome to an occasional feature where I realise that I’m not reading quickly enough and try to fill in the gaps by waxing lyrical about the stuff I was into as a kid…
What’s the best ‘virtual reality’ film that you can think of? ‘The Matrix’? Don’t make me laugh… ‘The Lawnmower Man’? Oh please… Any other takers? Well, whatever you think the best film is, prepare to be trumped by a film that was ahead of it’s time and (according to the fanboy in me) will never be bettered. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you… ‘Tron’.
One of the best things about playing computer games, as a kid, was to pretend that you really were flying the spaceship that was shooting down hordes of alien scum. ‘Tron’ gave a generation of children a chance to experience at first hand what really goes on behind the computer monitor… It’s a world where every program ever written takes on the human characteristics of its ‘user’and happily exists to serve. It’s also a world where a power hungry AI can easily spiral out of control and threaten the safety of both the real and virtual worlds. A lowly security program and a disgruntled human are now everyone’s last hope. Matters will be settled by gladiatorial combat on the ‘Game Grid’…
What is there not to love about this film? Computer generated scenery that was years ahead of it’s time but still clunky enough that people could really believe it was the same as the graphics on their game consoles. A pseudo-religious philosophy that was original but close enough to ‘The Force’ so that people would ‘get it’. A soundtrack that was alien and haunting in it’s electronic simplicity. If that lot wasn’t enough then you also got a large slice of action packed computer games wish fulfilment for your money. The ‘light cycle’ races were tense adrenaline fuelled affairs while it was a real testament to the skills of the film makers that a fight between two guys with Frisbees could have you sitting on the edge of your seat. My favourite character was the ‘Bit’, an electronic version of a puppy that could only say ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The ‘Bit’ made me laugh then and still does now.
While ‘Star Wars’ will always be the film that had the most influence on my childhood ‘Tron’ definitely ranks up there in the top five at least. Any film that could inspire a seven year old me to pretend to be a ‘light cycle’ deserves no less.