KEVIN O. FLYNN AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE
In many interviews, Cindy Morgan has compared TRON to THE WIZARD OF OZ, the idea that the characters in 'the real world' have alter egos in 'another world.' This comparison is intriguing because it takes TRON a step beyond the simple concept that people working on computers have 'cyberspace' alter-egos, or avatars as they are called. The concept of 'avatar' comes from the Hindu belief that a god can incarnate into a human being, and operate in a sense as one from 'on high.' In the 'electronic world,' the 'real people' are called Users, as they are the actual users of computer software, but these sentient programs believe them to be like gods. The 'electronic world' or cyberspace as we might call it today is somewhat of an ambiguous concept in TRON, but it isn't accidental.
Inside the 'computer' as it is presented to us, it would seem both literal and digital, the landscapes are a cross between three-dimensional renderings of video games of the time, but also a kind of microscopic physical landscape of circuit boards and wires. The ideas are blurred a little between the purely digital and the 'nanoscopic.' These beings inside the computer are truly the 'little people' of ages past, they are in a sense digital elves, doing the bidding of the Users, running about performing tasks on the other side of the screen like tiny elemental spirits.
In folklore, the "Little People" also known as the elves, the fairies, gnomes, brownies and countless other names, are a mysterious group of mythical beings who exist in some way as if on another plane of reality. W.Y. Evans-Wentz and Thomas Keightley have written extensively academic studies of the folklore of fairies and elves, and in many of the stories they collected in their books, one finds a common one, "those who return from Faerie." Also called "Fey" and "Fairyland,' among many other names, the tales are told of people who have travelled afar to the 'other realm,' the land of the elves. "Somtimes one may thus go to Faerie for an hour or two; or one may remain there for seven, fourteen or twenty-one years..." [Evans-Wentz] The stories often tell of a man who disappeared for a time, and lived with the Fairies, often revealing a moral or some lesson that is learned. It is likely that it is no coincidence that our hero is named Flynn, a very Irish name indeed.
In TRON, this idea that a man is sucked into a computer is generally considered a pretty silly idea, and obviously a science fiction plot device, so that he can end up in 'another world.' The most interesting thing about this, is that it has taken the thing itself, the computer, and made it the 'other world.' Technology is suggested as a 'habitat' for 'little people' who live in 'cyberspace,' another world where strange adventures can be had. What is more interesting is that the metaphors work so well, and that the tale of TRON is essentially a 'fairy tale,' literally, it is the story of Kevin O. Flynn and the "Little People" inside the computer.
As usual, our little fairy-folk are like little workers, doing their duty inside the machine, and as elves are little machinists and builders and technologists themselves, this relationship to fairy-tales gets more and more amusing as one looks into it. The Little People have their politics, and they drink the invisible nectar floating in nature, they sometimes have wars and conflicts, and in this case, the Herle-king is SARK. The MCP works magnificently as the mysterious and 'hidden' dark Lord who is incorporeal, like Pan. The Herle-king, or Herlaquen, is the Chief of all the elves, and is usually a pretty bad guy. Stringing the elves along like slaves to do bad things to mankind. In this digital fairy tale, Flynn comes along and uncovers the whole plot, and is there at the right time to help. Of course, what is even more interesting is that the Little People in TRON look up to humans like gods, while in myths, most often it is the humans who mistake the fairies for gods. This is a new spin, and when technology is taken into account, it has a whole new sense to it.
In TRON LEGACY, Flynn has been away for many years, another common tale of the man who is trapped in the land of Fey. His son comes to break him out. All of these are tales to be found in the folkore. Writers like Evans-Wentz were fascinated by fairie-lore for one of the ideas he uncovered in Buddhism was the possibility that these 'little people' or 'fairies' were parts of the subconscious, which could today be described as operating much the way the invisible scripts on computers work, or 'daemons' as they are often called. Perhaps these Little Programs and the tale of Kevin Flynn are suggesting something even deeper. Perhaps the story when taken as Little People inside the mind, rather than the computer presses another issue, that of course our brains are very much like computers (or rather...since the brain came first: the computers are very much like a brain.) Perhaps unwittingly we design and build the computers out of the depths of our unconscious, and they begin to take shape--though not as a literal brain, but 'the mind.' The mind is something not exactly quantified by science, and is thus, 'an invisible' and intangible thing, but if there were rules, if there were protocols and a mechanics to the operation of the mind, it would be like the complexity of an operating system which is not made of wires and electronic circuits but ones and zeroes... and perhaps the mind has a similar counterpart. Since we don't know, we guess, we write myths, we tell tales, and we speculate, and we speculate comparatively... so in this case, perhaps TRON is also giving us another dimension here to ponder.
TRON is truly a modern fairy tale, in the most ancient sense of fairy tales. It takes us way back, long before Grimms storybook tales, to the almost mystical and original fairy-tales. It blends technology, literally and figuratively, with fairy tale lore, while also bringing many other issues to the table. Perhaps this is why it will last many generations, perhaps longer than Star Wars and the Matrix because of its universality, because it will continue to mean something as we continue to develop our technology and our minds, and we'll keep going back and referring to TRON.
Yori Lives proudly presents "Re-Rezzolutions" a special interview with Cindy Morgan. We get to ask her about the making of TRON, the character of Yori/Lora, her work on the video game TRON 2.0, deleted scenes and more.
Thanks for supporting YORI LIVES, this interview is a gift back to the fans who have supported the cause since it began, Cindy Morgan is grateful for the support and hopes as we all do that these characters of Yori or Lora will find a 'resolution' in the next chapter of TRON.
Check out the Podcast page, leave comments, like, or you can leave comments here below as well.
TRON ADDITIONAL MATERIAL PART 3: YORI AND LORA
In the novel by Brian Daley, there is more information about the characters, as I have written about in Part 2, and fans may find interesting the additional material regarding Yori and Lora. As I have said before, writers hired to make novelizations are provided with scripts and other story details which often do not make it into the film. (As well as additional dialog). In this article, we will look at all the additional information regarding the characters played by Cindy Morgan in TRON.
Dr. Lora Baines is described as the "deputy team leader" of Dr. Walter Gibbs, and she "seemed in marked contrast to Gibbs, they shared values and aspirations." Lora is described as being blond, (described as dark-haired in the script) "in her mid-twenties, not long finished with her postgraduate studies, and already an acknowledged leader in her field; her work in computers had won her international recognition." "She'd occasionally been forced to battle to be accepted for her intellectual accomplishments, but never twice with the same person. She tended to be grave, efficient, and intent when working, but was cordial to those who shared her enthusiasm."
On the LP "Story of Tron," which is different than the Disney TRON Read-Along Record (which is about 11 minutes and the characters are portrayed by different actors), the LP is made from the original recorded dialog from the film, contains an odd line from Lora which is not in the movie, nor on the Read-Along-Record: "The world's largest laser, and if these new memory chips don't work all we're going to get is orange juice." This line is neither in the script, the novel, the film or the "Read-Along Record." It is unclear if this is actually the voice of Cindy Morgan.
YORI AND THE SOLAR SAILER
YORI is described as working inside the Factory Complex, "workers along an observation window manipulated fabrication controls, intent on the most complicated simulation project the Complex had yet attempted. Taking shape before them in a vast hangar was the craft that Gibbs had seen pictured on Dillinger's desk, drawn from the concept of a Solar Sailer. As the workers sat at their boards and screens, defining what the ship would be and how she would operate, the Solar Sailer herself came into higher and higher resolution, generated by the System... One row of workers was made up of female programs, one of whom was checking a diagram listlessly, mechanically." Later when FLYNN meets YORI, he thinks, "she was a revelation to him: her essence was that of Lora, transfigured into a radiant creature, sill very much like the woman he remembered... what a strange mirror the System was."
Like Lora, YORI is described as once being a skilled and talented technician, but in the mirror
world of the electronic world, her talents are reduced, re-directed, "re-purposed" by the tyranny of the MCP. YORI was once a "premier designer-coordinator, recognized throughout the Complex for her exacting and uncompromising work... but now she was reduced to the status of labor automaton. She wore a workers' aspect, her circuitry muted, complete with tight helmet cap and boots." She mindlessly reads off numbers to the Guard as if hypnotized, in the book, TRON has to wake her up with energy from his hands. She and the other programs are controlled, and essentially 'misused,' she describes how this oppression is destroying the System when TRON asks her about the 'stupor' of the other programs, "Those are instructions for shutting down functions... if much more of this goes on the System is going to collapse." She explains that the MCP is not simply re-purposing the programs, it is sapping their energy, the MCP is deriving its 'power' from them literally, as well as controlling their function. The programs are shutting down more and more functions of the System, "conserving" energy for the singular governing Master Control program itself. "TRON regarded the muddled programs with pity and frustration. The USERs had been so free with their power, he remembered, their only aim was to solve problems, to achieve and create. The System had been filled with activity and accomplishments then. But the MCP wouldn't have permitted its subjects full power even if it had been able to do so and still feed itself to satiation. MCP and Sark ruled, in part, by privation, keeping their subjects weak." The stronger TRON had shared his energy with YORI to 'wake' her up, so they could go forward and fight the system. "...things are going to change. I've got to get to ALAN-ONE..."
In the script, as TRON and YORI leave the Simulation station run across "half-gone" programs, ("Inoperative Data Pushers"), and YORI remarks to TRON, "I can't believe how bad it's gotten around here since the MCP started taking over, all the good functions have shut down, everybody looks so dead, I'm afraid to go out during down-time." The novel goes on to describe, "In the City, some habitations were remnants of earlier times, not yet restructured or razed or consolidated. The MCP had been unwilling to divert resources for any such 'extraneous' project, and so these places retained a scant minimum of livability." The state of tyranny and oppression of the MCP has essentially led to what we might call today, "inner-city decay," and the programs, (the people) have become weakened, morose, downtrodden and dysfunctional. Both TRON and YORI clearly see that the System will fail if the oppression continues.
The Solar Sailer, docked in 'Hangar 19' is fully described in the novel, "She was an astoundingly beautiful vessel, speaking of freedom and speed even though stationary. Her forebody was shaped like an artillery shell, with an aperture for the ejection of the Transmission Beam that drove her, situated in her prow. From the waist of the forebody radiated eight sparlike masts securing the great sails that fanned out to either side like immense metallic wings. Three long, thin antennae were set around her bow aperture to maintain beam connection and emission. A single slender catwalk ran aft, the forebody's only connection to the midships. Midships was the bridge, a sort of rounded, bilevel quarterdeck. The Sailer's afterbody, a bulky, heavily shielded segment, served two functions, mounting the reception aperture through which the transmission beam entered the craft, and securing the vessel's rigging. Four long lines connected it to the deployed sails, its only connection to the rest of the ship. The Sailer suggested a dragonfly, delicate in appearance, perhaps 250 feet in length, afterbody included." YORI tells TRON, "This videogame ship--it's very fast."
The Solar Sailer is then stolen by YORI and TRON to get to the MCP. The ship's design was 'appropriated' by the MCP for use on the GRID, and though we are not told who designed it in the real world, perhaps Lora, we don't know, but as the plans were described to be shown on Dillinger's desk, perhaps yet another design stolen by Ed Dillinger. Throughout the story, the characters have to steal back what was taken and 're-purposed' by Dillinger and the MCP, and 're-purpose' it for their own goals, and throughout these 'hacks' have symbolic purposes. FLYNN complains about writing 'all those tank programs,' and has to steal a Recognizer, a vehicle from his "Space Paranoids" game. TRON is a security program who is re-purposed to be nothing but a video game player, to perhaps keep him occupied, as well as destroy resisting programs and keep them occupied while the MCP takes over. He uses his newly re-purposed skills to take down Sark and the MCP. YORI is therefore necessary to steal the ship, because after all, she designed it, or at least performed the function of designing it. I would imagine that similarly within ENCOM, Lora's job, experimenting with the digitizing laser is also not entirely her most fulfilling work, and that Dillinger and ENCOM would immediately take it from her as soon as it is perfected and sell it to the military. Perhaps she actually had more "creative" aspirations in designing the Solar Sailer, and symbolically, she's in the basement, "disintegrating things." The laser is not exactly the same laser as used at Lawrence Livermore Labs where it was filmed, but one sees the vast lab and equipment where it is housed. The Tron Laser is referred to as SHV, where as the real laser is called SHIVA. (The god of death).
She and Gibbs are not exactly 'creating' as they disintegrate organic material and 'digitize' it into a computer, though they do bring it back to reality, "turning something into nothing, and back again." The very ideas of 'creativity' are examined here, and the imagery of the laser, and the introduction of Lora wearing a helmet is foreshadowing FLYNN meeting YORI, wearing her helmet and operating a laser guided vehicle. The movement and purpose of this vehicle, taking them to 'destroy' the MCP, is symbolic of the 'use' of creation in YORI/LORA, as well as throughout the story. Characters' 'creations' are from the very beginning of the story, stolen, re-purposed, and taken back again. ("turning something into nothing, and back into something again.") Flynn, Alan and Lora team up, help eachother out, to set things straight, and stop Dillinger while Flynn, Tron and Yori team up to 'free the system' which will return it to allow the 'creators' (the User gods) to continue to 'achieve and create' and 'solve problems.' The "Macguffin" is the 'missing data' on FLYNN's game creations, but it also represents the 'achievements' of creators who in this new technological age are stolen, 're-appropriated' by greedy power-hungry corporate tyrants which utilize creations like various new popular programs and 'apps' to steal people's personal information, and control their use of the internet, which we know will have the inevitable result of stalling progress and stunt innovation and the very technological applied creativity which 'created' the computers and the internet in the first place. (As also illustrated in TRON LEGACY's CLU). Today we see the eventual result of what was then inevitable, though just as inevitable as the 'digital revolution' itself. The characters play out a narrative that illustrates a 'reality' that we all face now, while we 'navigate' in this world of ubiquitous technology and information. These same narratives take place every day, all one need do is "google the news."
Released on the DVD of TRON is a deleted scene, "Yori's Apartment." This also appears in the novel and there is also more in the script. The scene was cut for what was claimed to be 'pacing' issues, but it offers more character development of TRON and YORI. What transpires is more than a 'love scene,' it shows the characters looking out at the city and pondering it's demise, and it further develops the character of YORI.
TRON and YORI go into her 'apartment,' to rest and hide from the Recognizers, TRON's initial reaction to the apartment is "What's this place? It's terrible." (One is reminded of Flynn's comments regarding Lora leaving her clothes all over the floor at the beginning of the movie), but YORI "extended a palm toward a portion of the wall surface near the door frame. Into it she directed a precise measure of the power he had given her. The door rezzed up, returning them a privacy TRON hadn't known since his capture. He realized now what an ache its absence had been... and the flat images that had been part of the walls and floor were now shifting and changing, growing a third dimension, expanding like orchids opening in time-lapse photography. They took on color and texture, solidity and depth. The harsh illumination became softer, gentler, more subtle and pleasing to the eye. TRON watched, bemused, but enjoying it all enormously. The floor and walls and ceiling altered; lounging surfaces and reclining areas burst forth, inviting relaxation, promising comfort. The entire apartment seemed alive. Decorative shapes and constructions, diverting and artistic, pleasant to behold, blossomed. Great care and thought had been given to the decor; ever last detail proclaimed Yori's hand."
YORI, introduced as mindless automaton, and cold computer design technician is revealed as a highly creative artist, and the apartment's warmth and decor was in effect, also a statement against the tyranny outside. She is the spirit of creativity, and the heart both as literal 'design creation program,' just as TRON is the spirit of courage, as 'warrior security program.' "Now TRON understood why she went through her work phases as did all the others, insensible. How she must have to conserve her energy for even a brief period of this." In the DVD's deleted scene, he says, "Isn't this illegal?" Yori responds, "very." The idea of the MCP controlling every aspect of the lives of these beings down to how they live inside their apartments is fully illustrated in this scene, which also adds some tension to the idea that a love scene will follow. They could get caught, the world outside is oppressive and dark, these programs, these "people" are living in a world that doesn't have time for love. TRON sits and stares out at the city "He was torn between the desire to stay where he was and the knowledge that he must contact ALAN-ONE..." TRON also contemplates the USERs, "he speculated...on what they were like, and what their World was like. So different that it was unimaginable, he concluded; so different that the mind of a mere program could not comprehend it." TRON imagines the life that will continue for YORI as well as himself if they do nothing, and that he needs her to 'sway Dumont' to get him to help. "Leaving her behind would offer her little safety, her life in the Factory Domain was slow death."