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Back in the early 1980's, Disney was trying to break out of 'toon town and come up with some more adult-oriented features. "Tron" was one of these early ventures. It capitalized on the craze of the moment: video games and parlors.

A budding hacker, played by Jeff Bridges, has been wronged by his evil boss. All the hot new games that he designed have been stolen. And, the cad didn't even have the decency to change their names!

Bridges tries to crack his way back into the company computer, using a modem and his home PC. (This is, incidentally, one of the first media treatments of computer break-in...) The Master Control program is too slick for him however, and the attempt fails. Still looking to get even, Bridges decides to physically sneak into company headquarters and have a look around. The master computer, in league with the bad bossman, decides to take matters into its own... well what it does is digitize the poor mook. And, it doesn't just grab his picture, it takes all of him, reducing him to bits & bytes and then transporting him to the other side of the computer screen. Here, he becomes part of the "game grid" where he can live or die as a participant in the video game he created. Talk about your digital irony.

It's a B-movie, and a Disney B-movie at that. But, what is cool about "Tron" is that it was the first full-screen treatment of what a virtual reality might be like. If you have trouble explaining VR to your kids (or more likely, to your parents!), you might consider renting this movie as a study aid...

(P. Sugarman)




Disney Video, 1982
Directed by Steve Lisberger

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Gareth Branwyn -

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