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The Best Films about the Internet

The Internet has been around for a while now. I am nostalgic for those early days of newsgroups, chat rooms, mysterious websites and more. It has brought us together, changed and influenced industries, and altered society, hopefully, for the better.

It is become an intrinsic part of our lives. Many of us now communicate with our loved ones online through social media sites and other messaging platforms. We also order anything and everything from online retailers at the touch of a button. A lot of us consume our favourite entertainment on the internet including listening to music, watching tv, and playing our favourite games. In fact, the entertainment and gaming industry has seen great success since the transition online, for example more people than ever are going on the internet to play their favourite casino games at a range of the top online casinos due to the convenience and easy access of playing online rather than visiting a land-based venue and this is the same for many industries including the banking and travel sector.

Of course, something like the Internet is going to be the subject of films. From Sandra Bullock getting mixed up in a conspiracy and Keanu Reaves learning Kung Fu to the origins of Facebook, we will be looking at some of the best that take us online or show how it has changed our lives.

WarGames – 1983

Back in the early days of the Internet, you had to use a modem to dial into various networks and computers. Matthew Broderick’s character in WarGames does just this in his search for new computer games to play. Unbeknownst to him, he dials into the WOPR, the computer being used by the US military. His simple quest for video games almost leads to World War III but thankfully a game of Tic Tac Toe saves the day. The film shows both computer hacking and phone phreaking but does also leave me wondering why they have guided tours around the Missile Defence HQ.

The Net – 1995

It does seem that the early films about the Internet looked at the peril that it could cause. Sandra Bullock finds this out in The Net and it shows how identity theft can take place and how an online life can lead to you being forgotten or ignored in the real world if you don’t get out every once in a while. This conspiracy thriller showed how many different aspects of our life can be manipulated online with you realising.

Hackers – 1995

Are Hackers cool? Well, get Angelina Jolie, Johnny Lee Miller and a few others as computer hackers and you have your answer. Hackers was one of those cheesy guilty pleasures and it shows how computer hackers basically wanted to explore this brave new world of the Internet even if it meant breaking the law.

You’ve Got Mail – 1998

The classic rom-com uses the simple email as its MacGuffin that brings Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan together. This is a lovely film that uses one of the most basic elements of the Internet and one that almost everyone knows. There is no techno-babble to get in the way of the story. Just one of those rom-coms from the Nineties that used to be so popular.

The Matrix – 1999

This sci-fi classic built on the idea of Hackers, Identity and what it means to be human. It delves into some of the cyberpunk ideas of jacking in and having your consciousness enter cyberspace. It also featured some breathtaking visual effects, kick-ass fight scenes and made Keanu Reeves an action star. The first film is still the best and it is incredibly rewatchable.

The Social Network – 2010

There are many social networks out there. Some of disappeared while others are just beginning, but no matter what you think of it, Facebook is still one of the biggest. This brilliant Mark Zuckerberg biopic, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, takes us through the early days of The Facebook before and after it dropped the The. It shows the focus and drive needed to become a billionaire and what it costs. A fascinating insight into something that many of us take for granted.

Catfish – 2010

Time passed and the fictitious perils of the ‘net seen in earlier films became the subject of real-life documentaries. While there have since been some questions about its authenticity, Catfish brought to attention the fact that people you are communicating with on the Internet may not always be who they seem to be.

Life In A Day – 2011

Debuting at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Life In A Day is a documentary made up of video clips that were submitted to the filmmakers via YouTube. All clips showed various events from around the world on 24th July 2010. Using video-sharing technology such as YouTube brought us this film that takes us around the world and, as the Internet can do when it works well, shows that despite our differences we are all very similar. It also feels like when you are on the Internet and clicking from one video to the next. It worked so well they did it again in 2020.

Searching – 2018

The whole film is told via the perspective of a father looking for his missing daughter. All we see are various computer and smartphone screens as he searches for her and it makes the whole film extremely immersive. There have been many films since that have utilized as similar framing device but this worked very well.

There you have it, just a handful of films that deal with that giant behemoth that touches our lives in so many different ways.

What are some of your favourite films that focus on the Internet?


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