Friday, May 10, 2013

TRON Legacy and Afghanistan - " The Game has Changed"


I have always been a big movie person and have found a lot of enjoyment from the artistic work of those who create good stories.  Movies run the gambit from those that are masterpieces ( Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Star Wars, etc.) to those that are the middle of the pack and those that are a complete waste of time (anything that has Vampires or the word “Saw” in its title.)


For a movie to be worth watching, I really have to identify with the characters and especially the protagonist.  The Harry Potter Movies are very good but I could never really jump into them like others as I couldn’t identify with any of the characters.  The stories were good but I wasn’t able to see myself in there.  Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark was one story where I jumped in with both feet.  When it came out in the early 80s, I went to see it 7 times in the theatre.  This was before disc players and the like so if you wanted to watch it, you had to go back to the theatre.  I did.  Again and again…. I couldn’t get enough of it.  Likely why I chose “ Middleboro Jones” for my Nom de plume.

Which takes me to the most recent movie that has grabbed my attention and has held it for quite a bit.

TRON Legacy.

The original TRON movie came out when I was in college and was a technical achievement for Disney when it debuted.  The style and the way it portrayed the world inside the computer was revolutionary and many like me were hooked by all that it offered.  Kevin Flynn was an arcade guy and a computer geek who discovered there was a lot more than 1’s and O’s going on inside the hard drive of the early computers.  There were good guys and bad guys. In the original, our man Flynn triumphs over the corporate villain and the computer program MCP (Master Control Program).  He escapes the computer world and returns to take back the company that he helped build in the real world. 

The story ended there and for over 30 years, the story of TRON was relegated to cable and an occasional screening on the Disney Channel.  Then the guys at Disney decided to revisit the world of TRON with the newest CGI enhancements to see where things went after 30 yrs.

In the updated story, Kevin Flynn has become a missing man as he disappears and no one knows what happened to him sometime in the late 1980s.  His son misses him and then we meet his son who has grown into a rebellious young man with issues about the loss of his Dad.  Sam Flynn goes looking for answers and finds himself in the arcade where his Dad has an office no one knows about which allows him (accidentally) to be uploaded into the world of TRON inside the computer.

By now, you might be saying what the heck does any of this have to do with Afghanistan?

I’m getting to that.

Sam finds his Dad and they meet up again after being separated for almost 20 years.  Sam has trouble as he needs answers on why his Dad was away for so long.  The first exchange is interesting as the now older Kevin Flynn looks at Sam.  He can’t believe he is really there inside the world inside the computer. 
Sam says, “ Long time…” to which his Dad replies, “ You have no idea..”

This was one of the first lines of dialogue that really caught my attention as I can identify with Kevin Flynn.

While I have been here in Afghanistan over the last 4 years, time has gone forward for me and all at home.  In many ways, I feel just like Kevin Flynn as I have been in another world from reality and separated from all at home.  Being in Afghanistan is definitely not TRON but the idea of me getting older while my son(s) grow into men(like we see with Kevin Flynn) is very much how I have felt.

Sam’s response is also somewhat telling as he says to his dad, “ You’re….” and Kevin Flynn says “ Old “ filling in the truth of the way Kevin Flynn looks and feels.  Kevin Flynn needs time to ponder having his son there again and he tells Sam, “ Dinner will be soon….we’ll talk.” and leaves him to spend time with Quorra, a student of all that Kevin Flynn knows and someone Flynn has been helping.  Kevin Flynn steps outside and looks off into the distance trying to take in all that has happened and looks out to the distance for a answer….something I have done quite often here.  I have spent hours looking at the horizon hoping to gain an answer to my own separation from my family.

Quorra tries to help Sam with all the emotions and says “ He never thought he would see you again…”  Her assessment of the reunion between Father & Son is very accurate and also describes what it is like when you are here on long term assignment.  There are times when you are here and you “feel” like you may never get to see home & family again…..I can really identify with the emotions here and it is likely why the movie has such an emotional pull on me.

Some of the music is also what makes the story come to life.  I went to a concert where Maestro John Williams showed his music with movie scenes in the background.  Then he showed the same scenes without any music at all….. the story was dead and lifeless without the great soundtrack.  This bears true in this movie.

His son asks about why his Dad never came home and Kevin Flynn fills him in on all that has gone on.  The story is one of his efforts to make a better world and how his good intentions went terribly wrong.

My life doesn’t follow that aspect of the story but the basic interactions between Kevin Flynn and his son Sam has some parallels to my own interactions with my children.  They are grown and are set out on their own lives, some of which I have missed out on during the better part of the last 4 years that I have been coming here.

Kevin Flynn’s personal world view is somewhat different than mine but he has a spirituality that hold some commanality to mine.  Mine is more traditional and his focuses on things like Zen, meditation, etc. Sam Flynn heads off on his own to figure things out and when his Dad discovers this, Father & Son are set on a path to their own battle with the troubles in TRON.  Quorra tries to persuade Kevin Flynn that Sam will be OK but Flynn sees the game change as the catalyst needed to fix things.  “ I won’t lose him again. Chaos. Good News.”

Sam takes actions that get him, his Dad and Quorra in trouble.  In his anger, Flynn tells Sam, “You’ve done enough already…..Sam.... You’re really messing with my Zen thing.”  
In a short while, they figure out that they need to work together and solve the issues that threaten them and the entire TRON world.

I have also discovered in life that my kids will come up with their own ideas and you have to let them try things out.  Skinning their knees is part of life and protecting them from that lesson is one of the biggest mistakes all these “new age” helicopter parents make.  Allowing kids to make mistakes and recover from them helps make them better people and better at handling life issues.

Kevin Flynn sacrifices himself in the end to save Sam and Quorra…. It is something all parents would do and hopefully will never have to face.  The movie is one that didn’t get a lot of box office play but has become one of my new favorites.

As with many other situations, I am evaluating what is there in front of me for Leadership Learning opportunities  and making sure I keep lessons in mind when I run into situations…Too many don’t understand this simple aspect of making the most of your daily experiences and by doing so, improving your ability to deal with life.

The mission here will end soon for me when I demob and I look forward to not being away from home and the real world.  It will be nice to be part of my real life instead of what occurs here in Afghanistan.
In the end, Kevin Flynn doesn't get to go home.  In my world, that is not a worry as I will get home very soon.
" The Game has changed."  Indeed.

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