Why the Internet Movie Database is the Great Love of My Life
I’ve been using imdb.com almost every day for twenty-four years. Here’s why it remains the love of my life!
I struggle to remember what my life was like before the Internet Movie Database.
The best source for movie info, news, actor and director filmographies, trivia, goofs, reviews, and more, obviously hasn’t been around forever. I visit this site at least two or three times a day — if not fifty — and if it were taken away from me, I would probably suffer a nervous breakdown.
The first time I visited the Internet Movie Database, which is known to insiders, and, well, everybody, as IMDB, was in 1995. I’ve been obsessed with movies ever since I was a little kid, and the first time I ever signed on to the World Wide Web (as it was known in those early days), I typed into the address field: MOVIES. I was ten years old, competent with computers but ignorant with technology, and didn’t know yet about HTTP and WWW and COM.
My search for “movies” provided no results, but on the main page of America Online was a link to an online database about movies that was in its very early stages. I don’t even think it was called IMDB yet, but the version of the site I visited back in that day in the summer of 1995 absolutely blew my mind.
Even twenty-four years ago, all the famous movies — from 1915’s Birth of a Nation to 1939’s Gone With the Wind to 1958’s Vertigo to 1975’s Jaws — were featured on separate pages, complete with cast and crew info, reviews, pictures, even videos. For a young film buff like myself, this web site was like crack, and I couldn’t get enough.
My favorite aspect to the site back in the 1990s was the “goofs” section, featured on almost every movie’s page, and allowed us nitpickers to re-watch our favorite movies and look for the errors on screen. In Speed, there’s a shot where Keanu Reeves is running alongside the bus, and you can see the director and part of the crew reflected in the window. In Jurassic Park, there’s a shot where Samuel L. Jackson can clearly be seen mouthing Richard Attenborough’s words. In Beauty and the Beast, a bear rug appears under Gaston’s chair in the bar scene, only to disappear, then re-appear, then disappear, then re-appear again, all in the course of about ten seconds. I went nuts for this stuff.
The web site has changed over the years, updating its template occasionally and making for more user-friendly movie searches. I worked in feature film casting for two years and used IMDB every day to search not just actors’ filmographies but also their agent and manager contact info. In 2006 I was ecstatic to find one of my own movies appear on the web site — a gay-themed short film I wrote and directed titled Lonesome Bridge was accepted to the Phoenix Film Festival and was soon after qualified to appear on IMDB.
These days I continue to watch on average five to six movies a week, and no film watching experience is ever complete without researching it on IMDB. One of my worst habits is that while I watch a movie at home, I’ll often pull up my phone and read about the movie on IMDB… while I’m still watching the movie. I’ll read the reviews, check out the trivia notes, scan the goofs page, look up other films that the actors have made, all while the movie plays out in front of me. This terrible habit is one of the reasons I still love seeing a movie in a theater, because in such a setting I’m free from distractions — my phone is turned off, and I’m focused on the screen from beginning to end.
I don’t want to try to guess how many hours of my life I’ve spent on the Internet Movie Database, but it’s been a lot. Probably weeks. Maybe months? I honestly don’t know what I’d ever do without it.
It may just be… the great love of my life.
Brian Rowe is an author, teacher, book devotee, and film fanatic. He received his MFA in Creative Writing and MA in English from the University of Nevada, Reno, and his BA in Film Production from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He writes young adult and middle grade suspense novels, and is represented by Kortney Price of the Corvisiero Agency. You can read more of his work at his website, brianrowebooks.com.