Movie Code Blog
Code used in a recent episode of Doctor Who BBC /

We've all seen movies with frantic scenes of computer hackery. Keyboards are tapped with the ferocity of a skittish pianist, mice are never touched and indecipherable computer code whizzes past the screen.

Only it's not indecipherable, not any more, thanks to a new blog delving into the code of your favourite films and TV shows.

British programmer John Graham-Cumming is behind the Tumblr, which now has over 20,000 followers and has covered films from The Social Network to Jurassic Park.

The first film covered on the site was Neill Blomkamp's Elysium, starring Matt Damon. In his dystopian sci-fi the code used is taken from an Intel Architecture Software Developer's Manual. Volume 3 to be precise.

Going back to the early days of source code on film, the blog reveals that the code seen in The Terminator's field of vision is 6502 assembly language apparently taken from an Apple II computer.

The site also reveals an interesting fact about the first Iron Man film. Code used during the scene in which Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark uses his first Iron Man suit to escape terrorist captivity is actually used to control robotic Lego pieces.

Is Iron Man made of Lego? If so a name-change may be in order.

Movie Code Blog
Code used in action film White House Down Colombia Pictures

Graham-Cumming's blog also reveals which films and television shows go the extra mile in the name of accuracy. The Social Network for example appears to use code specifically written for the film, and in Sherlock Holmes' adaptation Elementary, code used in one scene would output a cute "Hello world!" message for anyone who used it.

David Fincher is apparently keen on the details. Not only did The Social Network go to great lengths to be accurate but in his adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the code used is reportedly legitimate SQL showing heroine Lisbeth Salander's attempts to research a number of murders.

There are some strange examples too. StarGate SG1: The Ark of Truth – a film based on the TV series – was found to have used source code lifted from the website of a Canadian bank.

BBC cult sci-fi Doctor Who makes two appearances on the blog, including an instance in the episode The Bells of Saint John where the code used links back to the show's official website.

Many more examples are promised in the weeks ahead as the blog continues to become a viral hit.