How to find a movie title from remembered details?
October 11, 2010 10:58 PM   Subscribe

How to find a movie title, given plot details? On the web, without bothering humans.

Often people want to find a film title from details they remember. Is it possible to search the web for it? Is there a good database you can recommend? I've looked, but haven't found one.

Yes, I know about IMDB, but (exhaustive as its catalog is) it doesn't excel at this particular task. Google is no help either.

In addition to asking here on AskMeFi, asking on the IMDB "I Need to Know" board can provide the answer, often correctly, often quickly, which shows that the people there are good at this.

But hey, this is 2010.... isn't it possible to do this search online without involving a human??
posted by exphysicist345 to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You could always browse IMDb's keywords database. They're remarkably specific -- here's the list for Inception, for example.

Also, if the plot point/character/whatever is somewhat cliched or archetypal, you can check out TVTropes. Ever trope page has a list of movies that use the trope. Some examples: Unreliable Narrator, Deal With The Devil, Masquerade Ball, Complete Monster.

You could also try doing a site search of a key word or phrase on The Movie Spoiler, which publishes lengthy accounts of the plot points of contemporary movies, along with an extensive back catalog.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:16 PM on October 11, 2010

Just Google, e.g., Movie motel "shower scene" murder
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:18 AM on October 12, 2010

I believe sharpening up your Google-Fu is the best solution.

Google's helpful if you try different combinations of words, different descriptors -- just imagine you're trying to find a webpage out there where someone has described that movie with the same words you are.

For example, Movie motel "shower scene" murder brings up Psycho, but Movie motel "bath scene" killing does not. If you change it to Movie motel "bathroom scene" killing you do get Psycho again.
posted by polexa at 7:51 AM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: I love IMDB but wish their database of plot keywords had a better search engine. Right now, it lets you search for just one keyword, and that isn't nearly enough to find the movie you're looking for out of all the movies in the database. If only once could narrow it down by searching for keyword-a AND keyword-b AND keyword-c. Maybe someday IMDB will have that feature.

With Google you can search for multiple keywords, but it's searching its entire universe of web sites. And for a movie that isn't as well-known as Psycho, the cruft of the universe overwhelms the pearl of the movie you're searching for.

Here's a recent example. I vaguely remembered a movie set in France with a woman in a bathtub overflowing with water. Later there was a suicide with a revolver. I tried in vain to find it on IMDB and with Google. A human (on the IMDB "I need to know" board) gave me the answer in 5 minutes.
posted by exphysicist345 at 7:41 PM on October 12, 2010

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