We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.
Do you have a movie that you put on when you need to relax, chill out or just veg for a little bit? TRON (1982) is that movie for me. I’ve spent the past few days down with allergies and TRON is one of the movies I put on while I was recuperating.
The arcade sounds, the cool blue visuals all combine to put me at ease. I missed TRON as a kid, but I’m glad to have rectified that as an adult, thanks to learning about the film on the Retroist Podcast. Did you catch TRON growing up? Check out the trailer for TRON and we’ll get started with #WayBackWednesday.
TRON tells the story of a brilliant computer programmer, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who has been cheated out of the rights to his work by his former employer, Ed Dillenger (David Warner). Flynn sneaks into the company at night with the aid of some friends, Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora (Cindy Morgan), to try to unearth the evidence needed to secure his work and expose the company of its fraud. Flynn accidentally gets sucked into the computer and our adventure to uncover the truth begins…inside the computer.
TRON is a film that has both captivated and confused audiences for decades. For many computer programmers, artists, and technical folks today (including head of Pixar, John Lasseter), the film served as an inspiration to the potentials of using computers in animation. And then there are other people that just don’t get it.
The film was a flop at the box office when it first released but has since gained a cult following. That cult following was big enough to beget a sequel in 2010, TRON: Legacy, and a companion cartoon, TRON: Uprising in 2012. A third TRON installment has been in “cryogenic freeze” since 2015, according to Garrett Hedlund. IMDB cites that the film went on ice largely due to the failure of Tomorrowland (2015). It’s hard to say what Disney will or won’t do these days, but for now, there are no new TRON films on the horizon.
Here are a few things I personally find enjoyable and interesting about TRON. I think this might entice you to check out the film as well.
- TRON uses a fascinating combination of practical effects and CGI. What would have looked computer-generated in 1982, is actually an interesting filming technique. For the shots filmed “inside” the computer, the actors were filmed in black and white and later colorized with photographic and rotoscopic technologies. There is only a total of 15 minutes of actual CGI footage in the film.
- TRON was denied an Academy Award nomination for Special Effects because, at the time, the Academy deemed it “cheating” to consider films using computers in special effects for nomination. Despite this, the film would garner two other Oscar nominations that year, in the categories of Best Costume Design and Best Sound.
- The soundtrack for TRON was unavailable for many years due to the severe degradation of the master tapes. The soundtrack was able to be restored and digitized by the film’s 20th anniversary in 2002.
- The score for this movie is composed by Wendy Carlos, who notably composed the scores for A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. Wendy used a Moog synthesizer, as well as a GDS digital synthesizer to compose the music, but also combined recordings from the London Symphonic Orchestra. Journey also contributed two songs to the soundtrack, “Only Solutions” and “1990s Theme.”
- TRON inspired several video game spin-offs in the time of its original release and for many years afterward. TRON: Deadly Discs, TRON: Maze-a-Tron, and TRON: Solar Sailer, among others. I learned a lot about TRON: Deadly Discs on this episode of the Diary of an Arcade Employee Podcast. If you’d like to learn more about it too, I recommend checking it out. You can also see the full list of all TRON-inspired games here.
Any of this sound intriguing to you? Do you want to take a trip back to the heyday of the arcade scene and home console games? Want to visit Disney’s first foray into the cyberpunk genre? Check out TRON. You’ll be glad you did.
Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
TRON is streaming now on Disney+.