TRON: Legacy – My Interpretation Of The Metaphors
When I heard that the film was all about taking down the master control system I was instantly intrigued. Although I hadn’t seen the first film I went with friends to see what it was all about. And with it being in Disney Digital 3D, I had a feeling it was going to be good.
And after watching the film, I was amazed at the amount of metaphors that were in the film. How these carried great significance in explaining the deeper nature of reality and our own psychological development. These metaphors of the film are my personal view and are based on my own interpretation of what these metaphors are and there meaning. They are in no way the right or only interpretation, they are just my view.
This will also mean that I will miss out certain parts and only describe what stood out for me and what I felt was significant. It will not be like a story board where I will describe the whole story.
So with the disclaimer of sorts out of the way, let’s begin :).
The Master Control System
A big part of the story is about taking down the master control system. This sounds like some kind of building or computer that is controlling everything. And that it needs to be physically taken down by an individual or through some kind of battle or war. My interpretation is that this is a metaphor for how our mind works. By neglecting our own pain we end up creating our own prison. We then project it outside of ourselves and through this process it can feel as though someone else is taking away our freedom and power. However we are the only ones who can give our freedom and power away and that is through renouncing our own responsibility.
The first part of the film that came to my attention was when Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) left Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) at an early age. And this occurrence creates a kind of void in Sam and leaves him feeling confused and with a sense of loss. In the following scenes where he has grown up, we see him driving a motor bike and after that he breaks into the software building, tries to escape from the police and he also lives on his own. From all of these situations we can see that he has developed into a rebel. It could be said that the anger he has to fuel all of this comes back to the experience of Kevin leaving him. This is someone who gives of the view that they don’t care, when ultimately they are doing it to gain attention and somehow fill the emptiness within them. He could have gone the other way and conformed, with these being two aspects of the same coin.
Once he finds his way into the master control system he is soon caught and finds who he believes to be his dad, only for Sam to be told that he is not his dad. This creates an even greater anger towards Kevin. And this continues his feelings of rejection. He also receives a suit and disc on his back. The disc could be a metaphor for the soul and our life force.
During the next scene of him being forced into battle with who he believes is his dad, he comes across a woman called Quorra (Olivia Wilde). He is then taken to the hiding place of his real Dad and the real Kevin Flynn.
Meeting Kevin Flynn
Upon arriving here we can instantly see the whole duality of good vs. bad and the enlightened vs. unenlightened being played out. Here Kevin is wearing white robes and the whole building is lit up with extremely bright white lights. He also seems to be meditating and has a whole book shelf that includes the Tao Te Ching and many other books on philosophy and ancient wisdom.
It is also here that we come to understand that the guy who looks like a younger version of Kevin is actually called Clu (Jeff Bridges). From what I remember Clu was created by Kevin at the beginning of the TRON creation, to help him fulfil his master creation. However Clue turned against Kevin and he is now his enemy.
With Clue wearing the colour black, he is the other half of the good/bad duality. He also displays oppressive and tyrannical tendencies. Under his rule, as soon as Sam arrives in TRON he is caught and loses his freedom, followed by him having to fight to survive. He is also forced into wearing a suit. This could be a metaphor for control, by the fact that everyone is wearing the same colour so to prohibit any individuality and to cause restriction in the body. And the fact that Clu wants to control others, shows that he has no control himself, and is trying to compensate for through the control of others. With Clu, the whole time watching over his kingdom. Clu also lives in an area that is dark and bleak looking, further representing the darker side of life.
It also made me think at this point, how they are ultimately the same people. With Clu being a projection of all of the parts that Kevin doesn’t want to look at, often described as our shadow self. This to me was a great metaphor for how our life works
He also mentions here how a minute of our world was about 4 hours in the TRON world. This reminds me of how our experience of time all depends on our perception of it.
Sam’s rescue mission
After all this explaining has happened about TRON, Sam wants to go home and take Kevin with him, now that he understands that the portal will close within a number of hours. However with Kevin’s Zen like nature of wanting to just be and not wanting to do anything, it clashes with Sam’s all action approach. This shows another duality, of the being and the doing.
Here, with the help of Quorra Sam rebels against Kevin’s wishes and goes back to the heart of TRON. At this point it makes me think that Quorra is like a guardian angel, as she plays the role of assisting Sam at this point.
Upon meeting Zuse (Michael Sheen), Sam soon finds out that clue is never far behind. A further example of how we can’t run away from the ‘darker’ parts of ourselves. Before long Kevin appears and his arrival creates silence. It is another example that Kevin is the God of Tron and has tremendous power over the people of TRON. However Kevin is the embodiment of the supportive and loving god, and Clu is the antithesis of this, with him being the cold and merciless god. With ones motive to create heaven and the others desire to create hell. I also think that Kevin and Clus desire to be a god and have power over others and there environment is the result of their own disconnection from themselves and the loss of realising that they are already the gods of their own reality.
It is also in this scene that Quorra loses her arm; I will go in this later, after looking out for and trying to protect Sam. With Kevin losing his power disc also. With him having lost the disc he loses his god like abilities, which is why I believe the disc it is a metaphor for our life force.
When I think about this disc what also comes to mind is that it is another metaphor for how we can believe that our own power is external and that we need a certain thing to be empowered. As a result of this perception we can live in constant fear of something outside of ourselves, of something happening to us that we have no control over.
Getting the disc back and the race to the portal
It is during these moments that Kevin opens up about how he was looking to create perfection in his life, and after all these years of being trapped in TRON, he came to realise that perfection was right in front of him. This to me is another metaphor for describing how our own skewed perceptions, can cause us to feel unhappy and that something is missing. Through this view we can look outside of ourselves for the answers and fail to see that it’s our own perceptions that need to be cleansed and not reality itself. And due to this we can have a constant yearning for tomorrow to come, but as a result of this we lose our present moment of grace and never really live.
It is also at this point that we find out that Quorra has a special ability. She can be healed of anything, and with the help of Kevin (her creator) she is able to grow her arm back. To achieve this the power disc on her back is removed and from the disc a projected hologram appears. From here, there is a strand in her DNA that is a different colour to the rest of the strands, which is restricting her ability to function as a whole person. And once it is removed her arm grows back.
To me this is an external display of how consciousness works and functions. As we begin to work on our inner conflicts, which are just like the external example, we will gain our own sense of harmony, peace and wholeness.
Kevin also says that the purpose of creating Quorra was to end all of the disease on the earth, and with her ability this will become a reality. This is also another metaphor for the whole victim and perpetrator duality. With disease being seen as the perpetrator and humans being’s perceived as the victims. The possibility that disease might be feedback for what we need to look at in our life, as opposed to something that just ‘happens’ to us, is something that is not often considered. Without going to deeply into disease, it is easy to see what consequences of this perception can have on our own wellbeing and then further out into our society.
When they arrive at the portal Clu manages to get there just as Sam and Quorra are about to leave through the portal. It is in this scene that Kevin and Clu merge, this could be a sign that in the end Kevin has a deeper understanding of himself and manages to integrate his dual nature.
Clu also shows a kind of remorse towards Kevin at the end, explaining that he did everything that he asked of him. This to me is like that part of us that is called our inner child, that part of us that still feels ignored and neglected from our younger years. It is the part of us that still longs to be loved and heard.
The Return To Earth
Once they are back on the earth, there is a moment where Quorra gets to finally see what a sun rise looks like. This is something that she has never had the opportunity to see by living in a dark world. My interpretation of this is that nature is constantly showing us what perfection is and it is these expressions of nature that we can easily take for granted that are an example of perfection and wonder in our day to day lives.
It could also be said that Quorro is being portrayed as a saviour of mankind, with her ability to end disease. This carries on from the many expressions through time of a god or some type of superhero that will come and save us all. However all of these examples are a projection of what we would like to embody ourselves and what we feel we don’t have. They also portray humans as being victims of life and as having no control .However, as we come to understand ourselves, we will start to see that we can be our own god or superhero. And although we may require s assistance at times, what we don’t need is anyone to save us.
Some of the reviews of the film were not great, this is because they were reviewing it based on the story, and of course it is their own opinion. I think it was a great film, but then my whole experience of the film is based on the metaphors and the depth of the film. I am not focused on or even interested in whether it was a film worthy of an Oscar (however if there was a deep and profound film category, I’m sure it would win). As soon as I sensed these deeper elements to the film I was hooked. I would also be pleased to hear of any parts of the film that you have interpreted differently or that I have missed.
I will be writing more about the metaphors in film's in the not to distant future and adding them to this site http://www.moviemetaphors.co.uk/.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.