Computers in the Movies

By Deane Barker on October 23, 2005

The Use of Computers in Movies: A great list of “rules” in how computers are used in movies:

  • High-tech computers, such as those used by NASA, the CIA, or some such governmental institution, will have easy to understand graphical interfaces. Those that don’t, have incredibly powerful text-based command shells that can correctly understand and execute commands typed in plain English.

  • Powerful computers beep whenever you press a key or whenever the screen changes. Some computers also slow down the output on the screen so that it doesn’t go faster than you can read.

  • Smashing the VDU prevents the whole system from working

Via MetaFilter



  1. I love watching the screens as they type in movies. An example is Swordfish. The whole flash interface thing to get into the Pentagon is mental.

    The best bit being the end. He has sent the money to loads of random accounts evert 2 seconds or something. So to catch the accounts he chases the money with a for loop.

    Timer = 600; For i = timer; GetMoney(RandomAccountNumbers); End Loop;

    Something like that. Classic!

  2. also, the predominant color in all UI’s is black – the background will be black and any open windows will have black backgrounds and no visible toolbars. Any text on said windows will be bright neon green or blue.

  3. computers also work differently on TV too, CSI or NCIS are good examples:

    computers are capable of enhancing digital photos to show above and beyond the data captured in the original picture, ie: checking on the color of somebodies shoes from a picture taken from orbit.

    When anything of interest is found when doing a search, huge flashing green text will announce “MATCH FOUND”, there is no obvious way of getting rid of this flashing text, bar restarting the computer.

    The GUI is revoltingly simple often consisting of one or two buttons, “GO” and/or “STOP”

    If your computer is being ‘hacked’, two people typing at once on the same keyboard is not only practical, but will help defeat the hacker.

  4. When a friend and I went to see “Stand By Me,” we both gasped at the end when the Steven King-writer-narrator-adult character finishes his story (at a green-screen monitor) — and then shuts off his computer. “HE DIDN’T SAVE!”

    “Listen to those two nerds!” snarked someone in the row ahead of us.

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