‘TRON’ with Cindy Morgan

Title:
TRON (1982)
Rated:PG
Written by:
Steve Lisberger and
Bonnie MacBird
Directed by:
Steve Lisberger Starring:
Jeff Bridges as Flynn/Clu
Bruce Boxleitner as Alan/Tron
Cindy Morgan as Lora/Yori
David Warner as Dillinger/Sark
Barnard Hughes as Gibbs/Dumont

 

 

By Count Vardulon

Pre-screening memories: It’s hard to tell a story about a play, like it’s hard to perform a play about a book, like it’s hard to write a book about a movie, like it’s hard to make a movie about a video game. I was too young to understand the subtleties of that idea as a child, but I think I grasped the general concept. An avid fan of video games, I would watch or read anything even vaguely video-game related, and even then I found myself underwhelmed by what Hollywood had to say on the subject. By their very nature video games demand to be played, rather than watched, and movies that featured them could never seem to conceive of a way to engage their audience as viscerally as handing them a controller could.

And then there was Tron. While I may have missed the film in theatres, I was absolutely aware of Tron, and enthralled by what little I knew of it. The film’s creators hit on two important ideas. The first was to look deeper than just the surface of the games – to instead ask just what a videogame was, giving people an imaginary look inside a world that they didn’t understand. The second idea, which is both more mundane and eye-catching, was to make sure that the games themselves look far better than anything available when the movie was made. Watching people play video games that I have access to? Dull as dirt. Watching people play videogames so far advanced that I can’t imagine them – now that’s a compelling experience for a 5-year-old.

Which is most of why I watched that movie 50 times once I managed to tape it off television. It was such a ubiquitous presence in my viewing schedule that there wasn’t a moment of the film that I couldn’t recall immediately, or re-enact if necessary. Which I often found it to be, if I’m being perfectly honest. So when I went to watch it for this podcast I assumed that my ability to quote the film verbatim would mean there would be no surprises when I went back to it. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that I hadn’t seen something in the neighborhood of half of it.

I’m speaking, of course, about seeing the film widescreen for the first time. Growing up with standard televisions and before the takeover of letterboxing, it was only when I sat down to watch my new DVD that I realized that for my entire childhood I’d been watching just a fraction of the film I loved. The story was exactly as I’d remembered it, a classic adventure in the “Connecticut Yankee” mold, but the visuals blew me away to a degree that I’d never expected.

I’d always known that the movie was visually arresting, but seeing it widescreen was an entirely new experience. Only now do I really understand just how brilliantly composed every frame of Tron was. And beyond the improved look of the film, I was missing jokes by watching it pan-and-scan – a hidden Pac-Man, one of the first references to cubicle farms in fiction, and the true size of that door.

Maybe it’s a little strange, but the only new feeling I took away from this most recent viewing of Tron is that I didn’t get a chance to see it on the big screen when I had the chance. Now I just hope that the upcoming release of Tron: Legacy will give me another one.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Tron’ podcast here

or interact with our on site audio circuitry device

Our featured guest: Cindy Morgan 

Cindy makes her return visit to our podcast, this time to discuss her other iconic role, that as Yori, the shapliest computer program of its time.

With Tron: Legacy in the works, there is a movement afoot to get her into the picture, and you can do your part by signing the Facebook petition here. In this edition, Cindy shares with us the experience of working with some of the screen’s earliest CGI, the video games they played on the set, the film’s fervent following, and her own inner nerd.

We also hear of a few hidden elements in the film that only the keenest eye would observe.

We are grateful to Cindy for hopping on her time-traveling Light cycle and remembering her time spent behind the scenes of Tron.

‘The Last Unicorn’

The Last Unicorn (1982)
Rated: G
Written by Peter S. Beagle
Directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass
Starring: Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin, Angela Lansbury, Jeff Bridges, Tammy Grimes, Robert Klien
Tagline: There’s Magic in Believing!

By: Shelley Stillo

I was never really a unicorn kind of girl when I was a kid. I was more into Star Wars and doing unspeakable things to my small collection of Barbie dolls. But I must’ve seen the movie The Last Unicorn several hundred times before I was a teenager, starting at five or six years old. Part of this repeat viewing habit came from the fact that my parents, like many others, took full advantage of the VHS as babysitter trend that emerged with the advent affordable home viewing equipment. But it was more than circumstance that drew me to this movie.

The Last Unicorn was one of a handful of animated movies, like The Secret of NIMH, The Hobbit, and Dot and the Bunny, distributed when I was a child that was not released by a major studio. These films provided an alternative to the princesses and talking animals that were the provenance of Disney, but also to the pandering animated dreck, like An American Tail and Land Before Time, that came from the Speilbergian horror, Amblin Entertainment. The material in these non-studio animations tended to be different in terms of content—much of what I remember from The Last Unicorn and similar films seemed designed more for the Dungeons and Dragons crowd than the Mickey Mouse crowd—but also in tone. Something about these films felt less safe, and, to my mind now, more adult than the animation that was more readily available. Need I remind anyone of the childhood trauma that was Watership Down? With the Natsukashi crowd, I think not.

Even though I saw The Last Unicorn more times than I can count as a child, my memory of it has become very clouded since my last viewing, which has to have been at least 15-20 years ago. What has stuck with me from the film has stuck with me quite vividly, though. What I remember:

  • an intense scene about a harpy. I’m not entirely sure what happened in this scene, but I remember it being scary, and I remember that as a child I found it something like profound.
  • I remember something about a clock and another scary image, the Red Bull. When I think of these images, I feel like the film had a fairly complicated mythology for an animated endeavor.
  • I can’t forget, can’t imagine anyone who has ever encountered this film at any time for any length of time could forget, the soundtrack, which featured America. The theme song is particularly striking. It’s the kind of song that will be stuck in your head for hours at the mere mention of the film’s title. At the time, I found it emotionally engaging, though thinking about it now, it starts to smell a bit of cheese. “I’m aliiiiiivvveeee”

New memories: Though the story is simpler than I remember, the incomparable vocal (it seems that all roads in my life lead to Christopher Lee!) and animation talents ensure that The Last Unicorn ages much more gracefully than a 1982 cartoon scored by America should. Though I found Mia Farrow’s voice grating, the acting is so good that I even teared up a little during the emotional scene where an aging Molly Grue lashes out at the unicorn for visiting her now, rather than “twenty years ago? Ten years ago? …when I was new?” And Angela Lansbury ensures that the harpy scene is just as scary now as it was when I was the young girl Molly Grue longs to be.

The animation may be even more beautiful in this day and age, when computer generated graphics ensure that most animated experiences are big, loud, and in your face, than it was at the time. The animation here is subtle, full of cool blues and frightening reds, seemingly inspired alternately by Maxfield Parrish and medieval unicorn tapestries. At times, the film effectively and charmingly recalls these tapestries intentionally, and these are some of the film’s most beautiful sequences. It is no surprise to learn that Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass, the producers of the film, often worked with the animation firm Topcraft on their pictures, the firm that help launch Hayao Miyazaki’s career.

The biggest surprise is America’s soundtrack.  “The Last Unicorn” and “Walking Man’s Road” somehow manage to fight off growing any of the musical moldand remain emotionally resonant. They also help the soundtrack stand out as fairly original, as they work more as rock themes than the Broadway-esque musical numbers you find in the Disney and Amblin counterparts. Beware, though, they’re just as mind-numbingly addictive as they were when you were a kid. You’ll be breaking out the hairbrush microphone and the power-ballad facial expressions as you belt out “I’m allliiiiiiiiveeee” for your stuffed animal collection.

Will Shelley still believe in unicorns? Check out the podcast below or download it here.

  • Now Flixster Certified!

  • BEETLEJUICE with GLENN SHADIX

  • LIONHEART with HARRISON PAGE

  • CLUE with director JONATHAN LYNN

  • NIGHTBREED with co-star SIMON BAMFORD

  • POPCORN with star DEREK RYDALL

  • CADDYSHACK with co-star CINDY MORGAN

  • THE WRAITH with co-star CHRIS NASH

  • THE LONELY LADY with co-star JARED MARTIN

  • darkcrystalsmall

    THE DARK CRYSTAL with puppeteer DAVE BARCLAY

  • mischiefsmall

    MISCHIEF with stars DOUG McKEON and CATHERINE MARY STEWART

  • christinesmall

    CHRISTINE with ALEXANDRA PAUL

  • rockulasmall

    ROCKULA with writer/director LUCA BERCOVICI

  • justonesmall

    JUST ONE OF THE GUYS with STU CHARNO

  • buffysmall

    BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER with producer DENNIS MURPHY, fx artist HANK CARLSON

  • tremorssmall

    TREMORS with co-star CHARLOTTE STEWART

  • 3oclocksmall

    THREE O'CLOCK HIGH REUNION with co-stars CAITLIN O'HEANEY, SCOTT TILER and LIZA MORROW

  • visionquestsmall

    VISION QUEST with author TERRY DAVIS

  • westwordlsmall

    WESTWORD with co-star JARED MARTIN

  • SKI PATROL with star Roger Rose

    skipatrolmini
  • BEAT STREET with Ralph Rolle

    beatstreet
  • NIGHT OF THE COMET with Kelli Maroney

    nightofcomet
  • Support Natsukashi: Visit 80s Tees

  • RAD with its star Bill Allen

    radsmall
  • HOUSE with its writer Ethan Wiley

    housesmall
  • THE TERROR WITHIN with its fx artist Bruce Barlow

    terrorwithinsmall
  • HARLEY DAVIDSON and the MARLBORO MAN with actor Jordan Lund

    harleysmall
  • TROLL with fx artist Jim Aupperle

    trollsmall
  • AMERICAN GRAFFITI with ‘Kip Pullman’

    americangraffiti

  • THE BLACK HOLE

    balckholesmall
  • RETURN FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN

    witchmountainsmall
  • THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER

    muppetcapersmall
  • BABY: SECRET of the LOST LEGEND

    babysmall
  • SWAMP THING

    swampthingsmall
  • NIGHT OF THE DEMONS

    nightofdemons
  • THE GIANT of MARATHON

    giantmarathonsmall
  • wordpress
counter