the spouses begin to lose touch; a familynlost because of differing values; an impendingnmarriage in a life whose dominantnconcern was once which team wouldnwin the football championship. The beatnof these lives is kept by rhythrn and bluesnand rock ‘n’ roil—James Brown, JerrynLee Lewis. It’s not important music withnimportant lyrics (“Everyone SHOUT!—na little bit louder now. . . .”), but thatnwhich these five share as a touchstone.nIt’s a driving sound whose repetitiousncries of exuberance sometimes becomenannoying: when the bet is lost, the carnradio is punched repeatedly. It is thenright music at the wrong time. But tomorrownnight is a diEerent story, but thensame story. They’ll meet, chew frenchnfries and gravy, and swap stories—talknabout their “history.” They won’tndiscuss their dreams as philosophersnwould; they’ll speak of their fears andndesires as men of action do. In Baltimorenin 1959—or Houston, Detroit, Boston,nLos Angeles in 1982—action doesn’tnamount to much in a romantic sense ofngesture. But that doesn’t make it any lessnimportant. DnBinary Codes & the Mirade of MannTron; Screenplay by Steven Lisberger;nDirected by Steven Lisberger; WaltnDisney Productions.nForget Tron as a movie. It is nothingnof the sort. Certainly there is plenty of actionnand a plot line, which separate itnfrom what are known zs films, those creationsnof European directors and theirndomestic devotees. Tron is akin to AbelnGance’s Napoleon, not the version thatnFrancis Ford Coppola brought back fromnthe archives, but the one that Gance partiallyndestroyed in response to the factnthat his panoramic, three-screen approachnwas aborted by the advent ofn”talking pictures.” Gance struggled tonpush the limits of film, to stretch thenframe. How well he succeeded is nownknown only by a few, those who retainnthe images in now-fading memories.nThe rest of us can only extrapolate. Wencan see something of the same efforts beingnmade in Tron, heir to Disney’s Fantasia,nthe 1940 creation that yokes Bach,nStravinsky, and Mussorgsky with cartoons,nthe motion picture that has influencednmany film-makers of today,nparticularly Steven Spielberg and GeorgenLucas, two directors who are obviouslyninfluential on the work of Steven Lisberger.nThus it goes full circle.nComputer graphics are the basis ofnTron. It is a process in which images aren46inChronicles of Cttlturenelectronically created from binary codes.nTron isn’t the first motion picture tonmake use of the computer, but it uses itnto a greater extent than any previousnpopular creation. Silicon chips, thenessence of computers, are not a subjectnupon which many are inclined to dwell,nwith the exception, of course, of thosenwho are entirely captivated by thinkingnand doing machines—those blear-eyednfanatics who spend nights in temperature-and-humidity-controllednrooms,nloading a cryptic language via a keyboard,nstaring at a cathode-ray tuben’,Mi^ ;^nscreen. With the geometric increase innthe number of chips that influence ournlives—digital watches, word processors,nhome video games—the computer, innnnone Protean guise or another, is comingnto have an influence on the rest of us asnprofound and pervasive as the steamnengine.nThere is something unsettling aboutnthe idea—and the fact, like Tron—thatnthe computer has capabilities far beyondnthose of man. Animators, the types whonworked on preintegrated-circuit moviesnlike Fantasia, cannot create a Tron; thosenbinary believers for whom Boolean algebranand VLSI’s are fundamentals of existence,ncould, given a hand by productsnfrom Digital Equipment Corporationnand others. Man is limited. Certainlynthat’s not a fresh statement, but it’s onenthat computers are forcing us to facenagain. Of course, no computer can worknwithout having at some point relied onnman, and artifical intelligence, which isnbeing diligently developed at labs fromnCambridge in the East to Cupertino innthe West, is still far from realization.nThese are soothing thoughts, but onlyntemporary anodynes. There will be morenTrons. Eventually, only 20th-centurynLuddites will be without personal micronor minicomputers. This is not a recommendation,nmerely an observation.nA recurrent theme in fiction—innliterature both high and low—is that thenplucky spirit of man will overcome allnchallenges: natural, alien, artificial.nThere is something to that; man has survivednagainst odds that make Darwin’sntheory of selection a moot point. In onensense, the computer is another, morensubtle challenge, a challenge to man’sncreative powers, those powers which helpndefine Homo sapiens. Traditional animatorsncan’t be happy with Tron anynmore than livery operators were pleasednwith Henry Ford, or Abel Gance with thensound track. Technology seems to havenan inexorable power. Still, there is onenthing to consider. Although Xerox probablynhas a machine that can create manuscriptsnthat are tmly remarkable, it willnnever constmct one that will surpass thenbeauty of The Book ofKells. Secularntriumphs are one thing; the inexplicablenmiracle of man is quite another. (SM) Dn