Should theOscars have a category for ‘Best Performance by a Piece of Office Equipment ina Motion Picture’? No. Of course not. That would be ridiculous. Nevertheless,some of our favourite Hollywood movies contain pivotal roles from normallyinnocuous office products.

How many ofthe following five photocopier/fax cameos do you remember? 

(Warning:Here be spoilers. If you haven’t seen a film in the last ten years then go and read something else.)

1. Best Death: Office Space

Some would argue the quintessential photocopier scene. Mike Judge’s 1999 satire about three disgruntled office workers who decide to rip off their company via complex accounting fraud features what is probably the goriest movie death for a piece of electronic equipment since the T-101 decided to take a nap underneath an hydraulic press. The three colleagues take long sought after revenge against the MFP for ruining their long days by taking it out into the middle of nowhere and taking turns to pummel it into the dirt – all set against a Geto Boys soundtrack.

Tagline: Work sucks (but a lousy copier sucks more)

      2. Best Character Introduction: Fight Club

The sinister photocopier again emerges as a symbol of white collar frustration and pent upcorporate drone angst in David Fincher’s seminal 1999 study of the modern male psyche. The narrator works for an insurance company and sees his lifestretching out before him devoid of possibility – in order to liven things uphe subconsciously creates an alter ego – the exotically amoral Tyler Durden. Before meeting Tyler for the first time we see, through the narrators eyes, subliminalglimpses of his soon to be unleashed dark side – single frames containing outof focus Tylers in the background. The first of these occurs while the narrator watches his colleague operate a photocopier.

Tagline: On long enough timeline the survival rate for every HPLJ9050 drops to zero.

      3. BestInterrogation: The Wire

Okay,it’s not a movie but it is HBO, so close enough, yeah? The urban myth of the police faking lie detector tests on ignorant suspects is an old one but in series five, episode one of what is probably the greatest cop drama of all time it’s given a new twist. Dapper dressing Bunk Moreland tapes his frightened witnesses hand to a photocopier’s glass plate in order to verify his answers.”The machine never lies, son” says Moreland to his terrified mark, who promptly confesses.

Tagline: Read between the lines. (Or maybe just clean your print head) 

      4. Best Causality Paradox: Back to the Future Part II

You’d have thought that where they were going, they wouldn’t need faxes. Apparently you’d be wrong. When Marty McFly finds himself in his own living room 20 yearsin the future in Robert Zemeckis’ 1989 sci-fi comedy sequel he sees his future self getting fired by his then  boss for being goaded into a dodgy business deal by his friend Needles (“nobody calls me chicken!”). The message comes through on several faxes placed in Marty’s, now I come to think of it, suspiciously 80’s looking living room. But all is not lost- at the end of Part III, back in 1985, (the two films were shot together and intended as a single cohesive story) McFly overcomes his tendency towards provinghis courage which ensures that he’ll keep his mundane future job (?) and the message disappears.

Tagline: He was never in time for his classes… He was never in time for his dinner… Then one day he bought an Amstrad PF600.

      5. BestGetaway Assist: The Usual Suspects

Oh agent Kujan, you came so close to catching the elusive Keyser Söze in Bryan Singer’s 1995 neo-noir masterpiece. If only that fax machine had been a little quicker in transmitting the police artist’s sketch of Keyser’s face (put together from the description of the only other survivor). If only mobiles with cameras had been around in ’95 then you wouldn’t have needed a fax machine at all.

Tagline: Five criminals. One line up. No connection. Please hang up and try again.

Can you think of any more?


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