Looking for examples where GIS or RS has been a part of a movie plot. I'm trying to put together a "GIS & RS and the Cinema" class, in which examples of GIS & RS are shown. Those examples will then be used a jumping off point for discussion around either the truth or utter wrongness of the GIS technique or RS data being shown.

My best example right now is VOLCANO, where Anne Heche drives a jeep around LA (without any traffic!!!) monitoring lava flows - in 1997! Clearly there are a few issues here which would be a great start to a discussion about GIS and emergency management and other technical aspects.

My other example is any, ANY, movie where a grainy satellite image is shown, and person in charge demands that it be "ENHANCED!". Magically, the satellite is capable of zooming in and staying in one spot to see some new detail or event happen.

What other examples of movies that involve some plot around Satellite Imagery, GPS, Aerial Photos, or GIS are there?


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  • In What we Do in The Shadows, Stu, a human who hangs out with the vampire main characters, works with GIS. Here is great clip of him explaining what he does. It's what the actor does for a living in real life, as well.
  • Enemy of the State (movie), has many scenes of tracking Will Smith's character movements via high resolution satellites.
  • Patriot Games (1992) has a scene where Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is using satellite imagery to locate an IRA training camp in north Africa. Ryan gets the imagery analyst to "zoom in and enhance" and identifies the camp because the enhanced image reveals a womans cleavage.
  • In Man of Steel movie, they used CityEngine, which is a three-dimensional (3D) modeling software application developed by Esri, they transforms 2D Geographic Information System (GIS) data into 3D city models.
  • Le Samouraï (1967) (rated 8.1 on IMDB)

"a network of undercover police officers track a hitman through the Paris Metro, signaling their locations electronically to one big central map"

  • Esri had an embedded expert working on the TV show, The District.

Most of the police procedural shows do the zoom-in-on-grainy-security-footage and miraculous clean it up to read a license plate or the reflection of logo on a ball cap. NCIS used to do that all the time. This season at least, the analyst has occasionally said, nope, can't improve the quality.

  • Criminal Minds has also done simple mapping of crime locations to try to figure out the suspect's 'home range' or the area that he's comfortable in.
  • Bones has done analysis of bugs and plants to identify where they came from.
  • Of course, there's Sherlock Holmes who can identify the location of particular type of soil
  • TV series Westworld also has many scenes where data is overlayed on a map. They query the map about people's locations, paths, zone overlaps, timestamps, etc. They also have a 3D map with elevation.
  • Michael Crichton's novel "Congo" featured liberal use of Remote Sensing techniques for locating Solomon's fabled mines and the "lost city of Zinj." If you're teaching a class on film, though, you might not want to show the movie...
  • Also, some of those early episodes of Hawaii Five-O (1960s) feature McGarrett and team doing spatial analysis on a glass whiteboard with a map. They hand-draw buffers and whatnot. It's actually pretty clever.
  • Not a movie, but in the TV series The Last Ship episode Eutopia (Season 3, episode 9) they used a system based on What 3 Words to identify the location of a target. Details and promo video on the W3W website here
  • The Bourne Ultimatum featured scenes where maps are used to track assets and targets. Not sure if the previous movies in the series or the last release The Bourne Legacy had such scenes.

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