• 01.07.14

What The Code Used In Computer Scenes In Movies Actually Means

A programmer decodes the source code you’ve seen on TV and movie screens.

Movie studios go out of their way to create accurate details: from period clothes to cars to actors who actually speak Elvish. But “Source Code in TV and Films,” a Tumblr by British programmer John Graham-Cumming, shows just how little attention media makers pay to accurate programming. In an episode of StarGate, the JavaScript comes from the website of a Canadian bank. Code used in Clear and Present Danger is so off, that the site calls it an “abomination.” And code in one episode of Dr. Who, comes from a Wikipedia page on light waves. Other examples do seem to be more accurate–like code in The Social Network, which may actually have been written for the movie. But generally, it appears that most of us non-coders who consider all those letters and numbers to be mumbo jumbo are totally right.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo uses apparently legitimate SQL to show the character’s attempts to research murders. Her skills may be questionable though.”

About the author

Jennifer Miller is the author of The Year of the Gadfly (Harcourt, 2012) and Inheriting The Holy Land (Ballantine, 2005). She's a regular contributor to Co.Create.