Disclosure (1994).

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You can tell when a technology has really arrived - it starts to be used in Hollywood movies, and so it is now with computing. I am not talking of films such as `The Lawnmower Man' which are primarily about the technology, but of mainstream dramas, such as `Disclosure', which use the technology as a natural part of the plot. Disclosure opens with the young Eliza Sanders (Faryn Einhorn) telling her father, Tom (Michael Douglas), that he has email. The film happens to be set in a computer company, DigiCom, but it could have been set in any hi-tech industry. Computer communications, video conferencing and email, especially email, play more important parts in the story than the company's product as such.

Michael Douglas gets help from a friend.

Image

The action takes place in MicroSoftville (Seattle) but DigiCom is a resolute user of Silicon-Graphics `Indy' workstations. Silicon-Graphics does seem to have cornered the market in the product placement of computers in films. Is that why Indys come in pretty little blue boxes? The script even takes a swipe at IBM. There are 31 Indys on the set but only the executives, like Sanders, get the cute little Indy-cam TV cameras that go with them (see the photo) - true to life?

Virtual-reality gets a showing. The second sequence late in the film is really a bit of a gimmick and the story could have been told just as well without it, but it does illustrate a `reader and writer' problem very graphically! The sequence could be seen as employing son of File System Navigator - after `Jurassic Park'. Jurassic Park was based on another Michael Crichton story, also featuring Silicon Graphics machines and containing the immortal line, "This is a Unix System. I know this". The computer-worker stereotypes in Disclosure are much more plausible than those in Jurassic Park. Most of the executive and lawyer stereotypes in Disclosure come across as being decidedly unpleasant, but what the heck, they deserve everything they get! The quote of the film comes from the machiavellian Bob Garvin (Donald Sutherland) speaking about his world: "We have information but no truth." Systems administrators should note the importance of backing-up files and the consequences for corporate plots.

Oh yes, Disclosure does feature the issue of sexual harassment - of Tom Sanders by Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore). However, to paraphrase Sanders' lawyer, Catherine Alvarez (Roma Maffia), the film is not really about harassment, it is about corporate intrigue. For those who like whodunnits, there are some clues to watch out for from quite early on. All in all, it is a good yarn, well worth going to see.

  • Directed by: Barry Levinson
  • From the cast:
    • Michael Douglas - Tom Sanders
    • Demi Moore - Meredith Johnson
    • Donald Sutherland - Bob Garvin (founder of DigiCom)
    • Caroline Goodall - Susan Hendler (Sanders' wife)
    • Roma Maffia - Catherine Alvarez (his lawyer)
    • Faryn Einhorn - Eliza Sanders (his daughter)
    • Trevor Einhorn - Matt Sanders (his son)
  • Computers by Silicon Graphics: 1xOnyx, 31xIndys
  • Produced by: Barry Levinson and Michael Crichton
  • Screenplay: Paul Attanasio
  • Based on the Novel by Michael Crichton
  • A Warner Brothers Film
-- L. Allison, Feb 1995
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© L. Allison   http://www.allisons.org/ll/   (or as otherwise indicated),
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