Internet on Film

The Social Network isn’t the first film to explore the dark and pimply world of computers and their nerds. In fact, David Fincher’s Facebook movie has a long and occasionally noble list of influences behind it, and not all of them involve lonely young men…

WarGames (1983)

An impossibly youthful looking Matthew Broderick stars as a hacker who, thinking he’s playing a computer game, comes dangerously close to launching every nuclear weapon of the US government. Worth watching if only for the laughably dated computers.

Tron (1982)

Though it flopped on its initial release, Tron has gradually gained a huge cult following. Jeff Bridges plays a hacker abducted into a computer and forced to fight in gladiatorial games. Technically revolutionary, a belated sequel is due on 26th December.

Untraceable (2008)

Universally derided upon its release two years ago, this online offshoot of ‘torture porn’ horror is notable for its prescient examination of online voyeurism. It depicts a serial killer who posts live footage of his victims online, and has a contraption ready to kill them if the website’s hit rate gets high enough. However, if it’s voyeurism you’re after, it’s probably better to go back to…

Rear Window (1954)

Considered by many to be Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Rear Window follows a wheelchair-bound James Stewart become increasingly obsessed with watching his neighbours with binoculars from his window. It may be over half a century old, but it ingeniously explores exactly the moral conundrums over privacy issues that Facebook is currently embroiled in – Mark Zuckerberg might want to buy the DVD.

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Possibly the first film to have a plot that centres on emails, this cheesy romantic comedy seems to be perpetually on TV. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan star as two booksellers who are enemies in real life, but accidentally fall in love online thanks to the anonymity of the internet.

Anticipation levels have steadily increased for Fincher’s film ever since the release of the first extraordinary trailer, and, if early reviews are to be believed, it may well prove to be the first great film for the internet age.

[Originally published by Cherwell, in print and online, on 15/10/10:]

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