MacBooks and iPhones—The Real Stars of Mission: Impossible and Dragon Tattoo

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Paramount Pictures

I used this past holiday weekend the way the lord intended it to be used — as a time to catch up on some new movies. One I made sure to see was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher’s remake of the Swedish film version of the popular bestselling novel. It’s a decent movie but a fantastic two-and-a half hour long commercial for Apple computers.

In Dragon Tattoo, as in the Swedish version, both Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) rely heavily on their MacBooks to solve the mystery of who killed Harriet Vanger. Whether they are scrolling through old photographs or researching the devious family at the movie’s heart, they (and we) are constantly looking at Apple OS Docks or mini-docks as they quickly switch between programs and applications. Indeed, the glowing Apple on their back of their laptops is sometimes the brightest thing on screen in this darkly lit film.

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But Fincher’s is not the only holiday movie in love with the tech company. In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Apple’s mobile devices are tools that can literally mean the difference between life and death. In the film’s first two minutes, one agent is able to use his smartphone to help identify a nearby assassin. Later on, during a mission in Moscow, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) whips out his iPhone, which just happens to have a pop out keycard emulator, and uses it to break into the Kremlin archives. This follows an extended scene in which he and tech-agent Benji (Simon Pegg) use an iPad to peek around a corner and then project, on a screen, a false image of the hallway which they are slowly walking down. At film’s end, a team leader deals out a set of iPhones on a dockside table, as if they were playing cards, each of which contains his fellow agent’s next mission. If it weren’t for Apple, the IMF would be SOL.

Since the company’s beginning, Apple products have featured prominently in films (check out this Apple Products History in Film infographic). I remember being 14 and watching Hackers (one of Angelina Jolie’s first real movies) and desperately wanting one of the film’s Apple laptops because it had a 28.8 bps modem. Back then, for many of us at least, computers were still a luxury purchase and there was a glamour attached to them. Today, they are a very common household product, though most Americans still use Windows-based PCs as opposed to Apple computers.

Not that you would know that from watching movies, though. Apple desktops and laptops are all over the place. A Brandchannel survey from February 2011 found that Apple products were featured in 30 percent of the films that hit number one at the box office in 2010. Since 2001, 112 of the 334 number one box office films have featured Apple products. An imprecise measurement perhaps, but it gets the point across.

Of course, the reason that Apple products appear in so many movies is twofold: (1) they look cool — sleek, beautiful, heavily designed, Apple laptops and desktops are what the movies showed us the future might look like and (2) lots of people in Hollywood use them all the time. Whether it’s to write their screenplays, look at dailies, or edit their films (see this video, effectively an ad for Final Cut Studio, in which David Fincher and editor Angus Wall work on Zodiac on their Power Mac G5s), those in the film industry regard themselves as creatives, and everyone knows that creatives use Apple products.

Also, spies.

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