WELCOME TO THE MACHINE: On Dec. 17, the Disney film “Tron: Legacy” picks up the story of the 1982 movie “Tron,” which was neither a critical nor commercial success but somehow still echoes in pop culture as an early signpost of the digital era’s glowing frontier. “Tron” is remembered more for its ideas and images (and its namesake video game) than for its story or characters, and that is a challenge presented to this new film, which is directed by Joseph Kosinski and stars Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde. We’re counting down to the release date and today’s post is a snapshot memory from “Tron” creator Steven Lisberger.
Steven Lisberger, the writer and director of the 1982 film ”Tron,” is something of a prophet figure in the realm of computer animation for feature films as well as in digital-era frontier iconography. But even this longtime digital soul said he longed for some of the old analog charm and creaky satisfaction of Reagan-era moviemaking amid the sleek hard-drive creation of “Tron: Legacy.”
“I do miss the bucket of paintbrushes in the sink and the smell of cedar pencils – I know, I know, I’m becoming the parody of the old man,” said Lisberger, who is a producer on the new film and worked closely with director Joseph Kosinski and producer Sean Bailey. “Look, Joe and Sean were doing all of this cutting-edge — and I know Joe would have liked even more computing power and servers — but they really have no idea how funky the first film was in comparison to the making of this film. It was unbelievable how interactive and real-time this process has been compared to the original. We employed arcane, dark cinema voodoo, that’s what the making of the first film was.”
He added: “We were conjuring something out of the void. We were flying by instruments but we hadn’t built the instruments yet. What sustained us, actually, was the belief in the collective of the artistic talent on the film. That made a difference. And it made a difference that we were at Disney, where that was still the lore. It’s easy to look at the original film and see what the movie isn’t, but at the time, I was determined to put these big themes on a movie about video games and mainframe IBM computers. At the time, that was pretty outlandish.”
– Geoff Boucher
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