What would happen if Daft Punk were not only tasked with drafting the score for “Tron Legacy” but also were given full creative control of the Disney-backed sequel? Well, it would probably rock, and it would probably look a lot like the group’s just-released music video for “Derezzed.”
The video pays deep respect to the 1982 original movie (light-cycles, black-and-neon grids, gladiator games) while staking out new visual territory and just being kinda weird (what’s up with that bird?). For committed “Tron” nerds, the music video speaks in their language, but the uninitiated might be a bit lost. That’s where MTV News comes in. Let’s begin at the beginning, OK?
The video opens on a shot of Flynn’s Arcade. The Flynn in question is Kevin (played in both movies by Jeff Bridges), a game designer working for a tech company called Encom until his creations are stolen by a nefarious rival, and he’s promptly sacked. He ends up opening the arcade, which becomes a popular hangout in the early ’80s. But running an arcade just ain’t gonna cut it for a guy as ambitious as Flynn. He hatches a plan to break into Encom and prove the company’s new games — such as Space Paranoids and Matrix Blaster — are actually his own.
Flynn’s heart was in the right place, but what he didn’t count on was an Encom mainframe capable of sucking him into a computer world. That’s exactly what happens, and throughout the first film Flynn is forced to fight off all sorts of pixilated baddies. And that’s pretty much what happens to the Daft Punk dudes when they pop a few quarters into that “Derezzed” video console.
There’s no such game in the Encom world, but “derezzed” is an especially resonant word in the “Tron” universe: It’s a sort of digital death in which your program essentially disappears. “Derez” is what happens to that unfortunate jouster late in the music video. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Back to Flynn’s Arcade!
Once Daft Punk have powered up the game, their digital selves — “programs,” in “Tron”-speak, which are written by “users” like Flynn — materialize in the game world as light-cycles that flicker into being. Of all the beloved “Tron” imagery, light-cycles are easily the most iconic. The vehicles are part of a gladiatorial racing game that Flynn created. Once inside the computer world, though, he finds himself actually racing along on them (the object is to make competitors crash into the trail of light your bike emits).
Daft Punk tweaks the light-cycle motif when it becomes clear these aren’t just bikes but mechanized horses. We’ve got an old-fashioned joust on our hands! We haven’t seen that before. But then, we haven’t seen anything like this music video before. “Tron,” while revolutionary in its time, hardly looks cool by 21st-century standards; its chunky graphics and limited color palette are amusingly outdated. “Tron Legacy,” by contrast, brings to bear the very latest in computer-generated imagery; it is reminiscent of, but distinctly different from, its progenitor.
The music video splits the difference with a retro-contemporary hybrid: This is the 1982 aesthetic cut through with 2010 moviemaking technology. It’s both for the old-school geeks for whom “Tron” is akin to scripture and the whippersnappers who, sure, know something about the original film, but would never, like, sit down and watch it yet still are psyched to see the new flick when it hits theaters December 17.
What did you think of the “Derezzed” video? Share your thoughts in the comments!