Programmers and movies

by abhirama

I just finished watching Looper and really loved it. In the beginning, for sometime, my brain was scrambling around like a headless chicken trying to fit things together. After settling into the movie for about half an hour, things started to make sense like a mist evaporating from a glass pane as the sun rises up in the sky. Movies are meant to be relaxing, but this was no where close to relaxing, my brain was working over time trying to figure out what was going on and still I relished it. This got me thinking, why do programmers love movies and shows like Looper, Inception, Matrix, Lost etc.

None of the movies/shows listed above are straight forward to grasp, they move around in tangles with plots with in plots. Take for example, Friends with benefits, you could detach your brain, keep it aside and still the movie would make sense to you(not to say I did not enjoy it :)). Movies like Looper,  you have to watch them with unparalleled concentration so that you do not miss something subtle the whole movie hinges on or some key plot which is the glue that holds the whole movie together or that one dialogue from the hero which is so mind numbing that you start thinking the director is the Buddha reincarnated. Sometimes, even after assuming you have got it, you read a blog where a person has a total different interpretation of the movie and you start doubting your own grasp of the movie. Was this what the director really trying to portray would be the conversation running in your brain for sometime. Is this person correct or am I in the right?

If you think deeply enough, the answer is crystal clear.  Why did you spend that weekend diving deep inside the code written by someone else, chasing that one bug which used to happen once in a while in your app? Or spend a couple of days trying to break into stripe’s servers? Or rewrite a piece of code the nth time thinking that finally you have the most legible and maintenable piece of code ever? A programmer’s brain snatches on to things which are not easy enough for it to grasp, which need reasoning and logic to untangle it. Many of these movies are not just about the movie, it is about the whole mind fuck experience, the digging in through internet trying to figure out that one scene in the movie which you did not understand, the endless debate with your friends as to what the director is really portraying in the movie and to some extent also the knowledge of being in that elite minority who really got what the movie was about. Last but not the least, these movies are like jigsaw puzzles where some of the pieces are missing and there is no one one to supply you with the missing pieces. It is upto you to craft these missing tiles, stitch them together and complete the puzzle. Show me a programmer who does not like a good puzzle to solve.

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