A most credible movie

(April 4, 2006)

In almost all movies that have to do with computers or only show computer screens by accident, futuristic, animated or even 3D user interfaces are shown. Now there’s finally a movie that reverses this trend: Firewall shows that a computer-related movie can also work without absurdities. Most screens shown are commodity Windows XP installations, without modifications like alternate themes. One even had a standard XP Pro background image. Internet Explorer (OK, a real security expert like the hero wouldn’t use that, but I’ll let that pass :), Outlook and lots of standard Windows dialogs – everything’s there, and just in the right place. There are also some Unixish screens, of course: In a movie called »Firewall«, an Ethereal live capture is what you’d expect. There are some shells, but the stuff typed there vanished too fast to remember. Unix shells are generally shown in X11’s standard 10pt fixed bitmap font, yet in a rather unergonomic bright-green-on-black color scheme. In one scene, I also saw a menu bar that looked quite like the one from XEmacs, but as a strict Emacs non-user, I’m not quite sure about that :)

A hardware-related MacGyverism involved combining a CCD line with a little handmade controller board to scan images using an iPod. This may sound crazy, but if the CCD line has a low enough scanning frequency, it may actually work in reality. (I actually can’t wait till seeing that at hack a day :)

Oh, and not only the technical scenes are good – there are not too much anyway – the whole movie ist just plain brilliant. There are no unrealistic or unlogic parts and every scene has a meaning. On the whole, this movie is definitely worth a look.

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