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Mobile Phones in the Movies
Mobile phones are a little like cars, amazing pieces of technology that have become part of everyday life, so it is hardly surprising that when we watch a film or TV program, the characters use them almost as much as we do. Just like the car too, the mobile phone can be an integral part of the story, becoming a mini-character slipped handily into a pocket when its spot in the limelight has ended.
Occasionally though, it gets a starring role and to celebrate this, here are our top five ‘Oscar’ moments for the humble mobile phone.
1. The Matrix
Even the Nokia press release back in 1999 realised just how important the mobile phone is in this film, reminding us that Neo and friends could only “save the world with the seamless connectivity provided by Nokia mobile phones”. Marketing hyperbole it may be, but the Nokia 8110 – or banana phone as it was often known – allows The Matrix to stand proud as the top mobile phone movie yet seen! Today, the 8110 is a quaint old thing, with a monochrome screen, no camera and an actual aerial, but ignore the lack of features and concentrate on the fantastic slider design and ahead-of-its-time ergonomic styling.
In the film, the 8110′s slider was spring loaded, a feature that never appeared on the production models, but did make an appearance on the Nokia 7110. Proving what lengths some mobiles will go to for fame, the 7110 often passes itself off as the original Matrix phone, but alas, it’s a mere imposter.
In the sequel, The Matrix: Reloaded, Samsung provided a custom designed phone, the SPH-N270. Its ‘challenging’ styling looked the part in a futuristic film, but didn’t look quite right atop a table down the pub and its lack of features ensured it was lusted after only by Matrix devotees. This is a shame, as the full-on Matrix themes, pop-up ear piece which concealed a colour screen and the Matrix-font keys made it actually rather unique.
2. Charlie’s Angels
Mobile Phones don’t have agents, which goes some way to explain why so many Nokia models turn up in this movie. Amongst others, we see Nokia 8260′s or 8210′s as they were known in the UK and its smarter sister, the 8860 with its chrome slider, plus the original Nokia Communicator.
Competing with the Matrix for phone stunt work, the stand-out mobile moment in this distinctly average movie has to be Cameron Diaz’s character Natalie taking a break from a fist-fight in order to answer a call from her boyfriend coming through on her mobile.
Continuing with Nokia’s dominance of our cinema screens, the ludicrously expensive, but utterly gorgeous Nokia 8800 Sirocco appears regularly in the Jason Statham action movie Crank. Here however, it’s not so much the phone being the star, but the ringtone. Fitting well with the movies plot, every time Chev Chelios’s phone rings, the tone starts bright and alert, but by the end it has run out of strength and wheezes to a stop. Second only to 24′s distinctive Cisco desk phone ring style, this is the movie ringtone to have.
No, not the recent big-budget Hollywood movies, but the little seen 1998 TV mini series starring Jack Davenport as a man who uncovers a secret organization run by modern-day vampires. Back then the mobile of the moment was the Motorola StarTAC, the first clamshell phone ever made, and it makes many appearances on screen here. With mobile phones hitting mainstream around this time, this would have been the dream phone for many a viewer.
5. Tomorrow Never Dies/Casino Royale
James Bond is a character synonymous with gadgets, so it’s only logical that his phones do something a little bit special. He doesn’t disappoint either and neither do Sony Ericsson, who exhibits no shame when it comes to getting their logo onscreen. In Tomorrow Never Dies, Pierce Brosnan remotely controls his BMW 7-series with a concept phone that evolved into the R380 PDA-style phone. A stun gun and finger print reader on Bond’s device never made it into production however.
But it was in the recent Casino Royale that the company made full use of Bond’s SE usage. Two phones used in the film, the K790i and K800i, were released as silver special editions to commemorate the movie and featured James Bond themes and ringtones. Vesper Lynd, Bond’s great love, also followed his lead and used an M600i.
This list represents only a few of the movies where phones play a role of their own, what are your favourites?