Monday, November 27, 2017

What a character!

Last week I had the occasion to wonder whether René Descartes had ever shown up as a character in a movie. (Obviously, the real Descartes, having been dead for several centuries, was not about to show up in any movie.) So I used the IMDb character search, which revealed a couple of European films and TV movies. But there was a notice at the top of the page: Changes to IMDb Characters.

Apparently, they're redoing some things on the site, and that means that as of December 6, the character pages as we know them will be gone. I don't use them very often, and almost every time I look for one it's one of two things: either a historical figure (like the recent post on Elizabeth I of England), or a character from a film series (how many Falcon movies were there?). So it's going to be at most a mild annoyance for me.

Some people, though, seem to be getting rather up in arms about it. One person, however, had an intelligent question that elicited an intelligent answer from the admins. Suppose you remember a character named "Ugarte" (Peter Lorre's character from Casablanca) but can't remember the film. How are you going to be able to search that?

Of course, I still use the old site design, so what do I know?

As it turns out now, you can only find character pages that have already been created, which is why when you're on the main page for a movie you might see some of the characters have links and some don't. If the character didn't currently have a link, the search apparently wouldn't work. They'd like to change that so a character search works (I guess) more or less the same way a title search works. But I can only imagine the amount of database work necessary to get that to happen.

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