The Recognizer of Christmas Past

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  • Recently, I bought the Tron: Legacy soundtrack. The purchase was a no-brainer, as I’ve liked Daft Punk since I was an awkward teenager (muddling through Clearasil, Catholic school girls and X-Men comics) and, well, it’s Tron. Oh, speaking of Tron, I have a bit of a confession to make:

    I watched Tron for the first time two weeks ago.

    I know, I know. How can I call myself a geek, nerd or whatever other label society decides to toss on folks who like things a little off center?  I should turn my Avengers ID card in, lay down my Sonic Screwdriver and start pumping my fist at “the club.” What kind of pop culture enthusiast has never have seen Tron?  How could this happen?

    I blame my Dad.

    As a kid, whenever Tron came on the TV, my father changed the channel. He thought the movie was boring and looked stupid. That was a fair enough assessment for the 1980s I suppose. Tron was the only movie of its kind until Terminator 2: Judgment Day rolled around.

    To me, Tron was an elusive piece of Geek Canon, on my TV for no more than the minute it took for my father to get up off the couch and slide the channel changer’s dial. I’d catch the movie in one to ten minute increments over twenty-eight years, but I never sat down to watch it all the way through (though sometimes we’d catch the “real world” parts and I’d get to see a sizable chunk of the first half hour – Dad was and still is a Jeff Bridges fan).

    Even though I never saw more than a ninth of the movie in one shot, I was always aware of the film’s influence on popular culture. Whether watching The Matrix, reading Batman: Digital Justice or playing Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions, I was keenly aware of Tron’s impact.

    That changed two weeks ago when I watched the DVD on a blustery Saturday morning.

    I loved it.

    Tron built an imaginative and an immersive universe in a scant 96 minutes. The effects, while dated, sold a universe inside 1980s computers and videogames perfectly. I couldn’t help but marvel at the work put into the effects at the time. After reviewing some of the DVD bonus features, I realized just how little the filmmakers behind Tron knew about computer-generated imagery. Those guys were fearless!

    As daring as the filmmakers were, they were wise to base the film on a familiar structure. The film’s narrative revolves around a favorite archetype of sci-fi movie makers, the Hero’s Journey (think Star Wars, The Matrix and Avatar). Kevin Flynn created a videogame that was stolen by his nemesis, Ed Dillinger. Said nemesis presented the game to their bosses, got a promotion and had Flynn fired. In an attempt to gain proof of his enemy’s wrongdoing, Flynn is transported into a world he helped create – Flynn lives in the computer and must work to free it from an evil computer program created by Dillinger.

    Tron holds up pretty well and now I’m excited to see Tron: Legacy – so excited I decided to download the Tron: Legacy soundtrack.

    Written and arranged by French electronic music duo, Daft Punk, the Tron: Legacy soundtrack features an 85-piece orchestra, recorded at London’s AIR Lyndhurst Studios. The sequel’s score mixes electronic and orchestral music seamlessly. It reminds me of Hans Zimmer’s work on Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Inception. It’s dark, moody and a mix of classical and experimental sounds. Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy soundtrack is a must own record.

    I feel very lucky that I can immerse myself in this world now, as an adult. The original film has inspired so many influential creators of our day, from Invisibles’ scribe, Grant Morrison and Pixar’s John Lasseter. Looking back on this film and its legacy from the present as opposed to seeing it through the all too forgiving spectacles called nostalgia is pure pleasure and I cannot wait to see Tron: Legacy this weekend.

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