Last night I saw Tron: Legacy and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it. The movie certainly wants you to draw a parallel between it and certain aspects of the Bible, so we’ll start by looking at exactly how it does this. Then we’ll move on to more speculative symbolism I saw that lead me to believe it was anti-Christian or at least wanted people to think about whether certain non-traditional theological positions were viable. I will not attempt to hide spoilers, so don’t read any further if you don’t want the ending ruined.
The movie had an almost face-palm level of explicit Biblical parallels. A man creates a program “in his image”. I wanted to laugh that they kept using that phrase. The program was perfect at first, but then it started thinking on its own and got away from him. It started doing evil. Then this man’s son has to come and save everyone. Many of the programs inside of Tron use the phrase “our creator” to refer to the father.
Another story told in the movie is how this girl was about to be destroyed by the evil guys only to find “the father” standing over her after she blacked out and he “saved her”. The father’s disk contains all the information about everything in the grid, so in a sense the father is omniscient. Clearly the father is a stand in for the Biblical God since he creates a whole universe and is omniscient (and by some of the actions he performs in the movie, he seems omnipotent as well). I don’t think the Christian parallels are all in my head.
There is some sketchy theology that occurs that might be in my head, though. The “real world” outside of the grid seems to be a symbol for heaven. If this is true, it presents a very interesting theological point. The evil guy wants to let everyone into heaven. It is only because the father is “selfish” that only some get to go there. So a point is made that not letting everyone into heaven even though it is in his power to do so is selfish. Of course, he isn’t allowing the people who follow the evil guy in and he does want to allow the “good creations” in.
The next non-traditional theological point is that the reason evil came into the world was not the evil guy’s fault since he was made in the father’s image. In fact, the evil guy is in some sense the father, so it is actually the father’s fault. The father recognizes this, and explicitly says it in the movie and apologizes to his creations for allowing it to happen. The creations took a life of their own and he lost control. So theologically this seems to be trying to explain the problem of evil by saying that the father is not actually omnipotent, and that the creations don’t have to follow his plan. Also, it puts the responsibility on the father and not on the creations. This is much closer to a deist position than a theist position.
Lastly, the father actually sacrifices himself to save everyone. Now when it is worded that way, it seems to follow traditional Christian doctrine, except that the way it is done in the movie seems to indicate that the father is literally gone after that. The way that God gives salvation is to remove himself from the equation (a phrase used many times during the movie). i.e. In terms of theology, the movie seems to want to reinterpret the meaning of the sacrifice as saying that God no longer exists. Maybe he did at one time, but not after the crucifixion.
This is why I think Tron: Legacy is explicitly anti-Christian. It makes the creator a helpless person that has to sit by and watch his creations destroy eachother. There is nothing he can do about the evil. Which of course gets around the problem of evil, but also puts God in a merely creator role. The theology puts God as sometimes loving, but mostly a selfish creator. On the other hand, it tries to rewrite the evils explicitly done by God in the Bible by making the evil guy do them. The theology says that God should apologize to us and not the other way around.
Interestingly, the purpose of the son going into Tron is to save the father (you know, the one responsible for the evil) and is not there for the purpose of saving the people committing the evil acts (again, not their fault according to the movie since they were designed in the image of an evil creator). The son is also told when he enters that his purpose is to “survive” which is quite the opposite of his purpose in the Bible.
Maybe I’m just seeing too much in this, but usually I can turn off my brain from doing this if it is just subtle symbolism. In this case, everything was so explicit I had to watch in horror as my brain kept trying to fit all the symbols into a theological viewpoint. I couldn’t turn it off because all the phrases they kept using were designed with the intention of evoking these thoughts.