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Movie code exposed

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Girl with th dragon tattoo movie code
A screen shot of the murdered movie code in the movie Girl with the Dragon tattoo.

In my spare time I watch a lot of movies and TV Shows – they are all legal copies of course 😉 . A lot of these modern productions often still have hacker stereotypes. Awkward men and women with unimpressive to zero social skills, dress in hippie costumes, wear thick nerd glasses, have no friends in the real world, can hack into the CIA database at the drop of a hat and still live in their parents’ basements. To me that is a forgivable mistake. What is unforgivable is when producers and directors wilfully insult us by implementing these supposed hacks and exploits using inaccurate and ridiculous source codes.

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A British programmer, John Graham-Cunning, has started a fan submission website on Tumblr titled Source Code in TV and Films that allows users to submit movie screenshots of computer code as well as its origin and purpose in real life. For an industry that is obsessed with preventing piracy, the movie industry sure does a lot of copying and pasting. As it turns out a lot of the code is surreptitiously copied from a host of places including random websites. Some films like Battlefield Royale even use GPL licensed source code from nmap and it would be interesting to know what the legal implications, if any, would be. I wonder if all these movies obtained the permission to use the code.

This nascent website has not only proven popular but it has also managed give an interesting perspective on how far and how serious the creators of various movies were willing to go to make their movie or T.V. show authentic. Some directors and producers are either unwilling or unable to pay for actual plausible hacking props resulting in the most ludicrous depictions. To be fair, I, like most movie goers, do not know my Fortran from my Delphi but I cannot help but meh when hackers start pinging unroutable private addresses with abandon. Every self-respecting techie knows you cannot ping 192.168.x.x across the internet for Christ-sakes.

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Some of the popular culprits that have been so far exposed for the frauds they are include Charlie’s Angels. A character in the TV series uses Sudoku solving software to break into a safe! The conspiracy theory TV series, XII, used html code from the Engadget. CSI:NY just chose the lazy path and wrote down simple html code perhaps because it was deemed it would look geeky enough for most people. A code snippet shown in the series Elementary simply prints out “Hello World!” and this is in a production that is supposed to depict a modern day Sherlock Holmes. In Arrow the Java code used to break encryption is actually used in calculating the position of Jupiter’s moons in real life!

It appears the TV show Strike back not only showed a butchered version of Zimbabwe in its second season they have also used JavaScript source code from WordPress to depict a hacking deed performed by MI6 during a covert operation. In what can only be described as a show of needless nitpicking it has also been shown that the geeky show Person of Interest shows historically inaccurate code snippets of Fortran in one of it’s episodes- a fact that does not sit well with one of the hackers who posted the finding.

While new technologies such as computer animation and CGI rendering have greatly improved the quality of productions in the movie and TV industry it appears they, the industry, have not been faithful in turn. Most production sets have been guilty of choosing the easy way depicting inaccurate hacking scenes  and scenarios merely because “they look real enough.” As an aside I have noted that a number of Nigerian and Zimbabwean productions have lowered the bar further. Actors simply type stuff to appear busy when either only the desktop is showing on the screen or the computer is completely off.

It appears those involved in the production of movies and TV shows are not willing to let something as trivial as facts, the truth or compilers and interpreters syntax stand in the way of a good yarn.

Picture via Oracle WTF.


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8 thoughts on “Movie code exposed

  1. Pretty much the same in all other fields like medical scenes,engineering,physics etc.The butchering of concepts and terms can be rather hilarious.Others are on point and align to current scientific questions and challenges.

    I’ve always found the visualisation of viruses & malicious SD software hilarious…. as some 3D entity with shape and maybe tentacles or something silly like that. A scene where they discuss “the virus” would typically include the super geek(s) staring at some 3D image of sorts.

    they even give visual form to rogue AI systems

    1. its the age of internet journalism @tinonetic wotojaira, there is actually a case in the courts on the copy, paster & edit articles aka copyright infringement between moneyweb & fin24.

      but to be fair i doubt we would have known about this if they had not featured it here.

      how are they supposed to report such a story that has been run somewhere else.

      maybe they should have given some links to the original article, but then which one is the original story.

      1. I believe that fiction is fiction. All these codes are no different than the warp stuff we see on Star Trek or the “powerful” mutants in X-Men.

        Even if the code for “Hello World” decrypts the NSA encryption to allow the good guys stop the villains, do we really care? Its good to see the “truth” behind the so-called coding that occurs in movies but let’s let our imagination make us enjoy the “Hello World” code break the unbreakable systems the villains use.

        Movies are after all our gateway to fantasies

    1. Thanks for the comment. sincerely.
      However, to say the article it was “pulled” from The Verge is itself ‘absolute rubbish’. The only similarity with the Verge article is that both are about the same topic.
      Using the same logic of pulling, all these “pulled” from the Verge too?

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25638870
      http://www.itworld.com/security/398912/sources-all-code-you-see-tv-and-movies
      http://sploid.gizmodo.com/what-all-the-fancy-code-in-movie-computer-sequences-act-1494297200
      http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/01/06/movie_code_tumblr_cracks_the_sources_of_code_found_in_tv_film.html
      http://www.sdtimes.com/content/article.aspx?ArticleID=67573&page=1

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