Tron Is A Strange Old World

I was struck by the visual strangeness of Tron this week, after I rented it in preparation for seeing its sequel in December.

I have never seen another movie quite like Tron visually. It revels in its computer graphics, instead of trying to make them as realistic as possible (which often doesn’t work anyway) and the strange black and white/illuminated look of the program characters in the electronic world remains eye-catching today.

And the plot is utterly strange. The "ordinary joe sucked into a strange world" is pretty standard in fiction of all kinds, but "programs are people"? I suppose "The Matrix" had to get it from somewhere.

Tron holds up surprisingly well, so long after its 1982 debut, partly because so much of it takes place on the alien electronic landscape, which will no doubt still look strange and exotic in 50 years.

If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a computer geek who gets sucked into a computer and has to compete in vicious gladiatorial games in a struggle against the evil, domineering Master Control Program. It’s a fun, action-packed movie, if you’re patient enough to sit through the slowish first 20 minutes or so. There’s even some romance between two computer programs, which is weird, but only if you think about it a lot.