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Joseph Kosinski Talks The “Art House” Heart Of ‘Tron: Legacy’

Joseph Kosinski Talks The "Art House" Heart Of 'Tron: Legacy'

Filmmaker Discusses The “Wizard of Oz” Aspect Of ‘Tron’ Remake’s 3D

Exclusive: When we reviewedTron: Legacy” a week ago, we noted that the movie has a surprisingly strange, video-art-project vibe. The most striking moments in it come when the overstuffed sci-fi plot falls away and the visuals and music get pumped up to maximum, sternum-shaking volume. Director Joseph Kosinski shoots and edits things very cleanly — light cycles glide across the screen, leaving a ribbon of flowing light behind him; characters walk slowly towards the screen bedecked in rubbery suits rimmed with neon; and often its oversized importance (chiefly in a monetary sense, as this is a big important Disney movie that is supposed to kick-start a number of ancillary ventures) is sidelined simply for the beauty of it all.

Still: first movie, huge budget, franchise restarted. We talked to Joseph Kosinski about the pressure that goes along with your first movie being such a monolithic undertaking, and he was very honest.

“I think any director feels pressure on any film, particularly their first film. And, you know, I wanted to do honor to the “Tron” franchise because the first film was so ambitious in so many ways. I wanted to make sure I was being as ambitious in every way possible. So at any point where there was a choice either to do things the hard way or the easy way, I always picked the hard way, in order to deliver the highest quality audio/visual experience possible. And I think we pushed the envelope in a lot of different ways in this movie.”

When we commented on its admirable strangeness, Kosinski was very pleased. Of all the things he imported from the original, it was this sensation of weirdness that he really wanted to translate.

“I like the adjective strange. Because my recollection of seeing the original “Tron” as an eight-year-old boy was that it looked and sounded unlike anything else out there. And it was a little odd. And it was important to me that there were elements in this film that felt odd and different. And I also wanted to see if you could make a big movie that has strong artistic intentions to it. Can you have an art film wrapped in the veneer of a big, four-quadrant movie like this? That was certainly one of the intentions.”

Part of its inherent artiness was the ballsy decision to have the film be flat for the first half-hour or so, only kicking into 3D when he enters the computer world. We also noticed that the screen “pops up” to engulf the entire IMAX screen too.

“Yeah, we go to full-frame ratio. I did about eight sequences in full IMAX so that adds up to about 43 minutes of IMAX footage. So I definitely recommend seeing it in an IMAX theater.”

This was always the director’s intention. “I always had the idea of going into 3D once you enter the world of “Tron.” I liked that idea from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ to use the medium itself as a storytelling device. But then once I started talking to IMAX and realized that they never mask the size of the IMAX screen, that it’s always a full screen regardless of format, I realized that it made sense to make the most use of it, especially in those big action sequences.”

As we’ve said before, we agree with the director that IMAX was definitely the way to go with “Tron: Legacy.” In case you’ve been trapped inside a video game world for the past 20 years, we hasten to remind you that the film opened this weekend.

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