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Lo and Behold: Herzog Surfs the Net
internet profoundly influenced daily life even more than we realize. Frankly,
it is hard to remember how we engaged in piracy, anonymous slander, and
bullying before it existed. Yet, we could lose all these advances in one
Carrington Event. Werner Herzog takes stock of our digital condition in Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected
which opens this Friday in New York.
need not explain the perils of the internet to Hillary Clinton. Nobody is more
secretive when it comes to hiding email archives, yet the personal data of her
donors has still been splashed all over cyberspace. That is not exactly what Dr.
Leonard Kleinrock had in mind when he collaborated on the internet’s creation.
Like all good things, the internet does not lack competing creation stories,
but a strong case can be make for the team of scientists assembled in UCLA’s
Boelter Hall, feverishly working to send a digital message up the road to
Stanford. That is where Herzog begins his ten-part meditation, finding
Kleinrock to be figure of appropriately Herzogian enthusiasm.
connected world also used to be a small world. One early pioneer still has the
slim volume of all the collected email addresses of the entire connected world
(sorted twice). In fact, early protocols were intended for that sort of tight
little community and lagged behind the exponential growth that began in the
mid-1990s. As a result, it is not long before Herzog stares into the abyss of
the internet’s dark side.
better understands the anonymous malice the internet unleashes than Catsouras
family. When their teen daughter Nikki was tragically killed in a car wreck,
scores of trolls bombarded them with a gory leaked photo of the accident scene,
along with their callous commentary. (Frankly, since Catsouras was driving a
sports car, this could also be considered as part of the ugly Occupy
Decency-class warfare movement, but Herzog maintains a rigidly narrow focus during
tight focus is generally the one thing this far-ranging kitchen sink survey
lacks. Herzog touches on just about everything, including internet security
(with the help of in/famous hacker Kevin Mitnick) and our increasing dependency
on the net for just about everything. For the record, it is not just preppers
who are worried about the implications of future Carrington level solar flares.
Herzog talks to scientists who share their concern. He also devotes time to commiserate
with those afflicted with extreme electromagnetic sensitivity, who have found a
refuge in the cell tower free zone surrounding the radio telescope in Green
Bank, WV (which is named for lifetime pork barrel champion Robert C. Byrd, like
everything else in West Virginia).
Basically, Herzog hopscotches through the
landscape of the connected world, eliciting plenty of genuinely provocative
insights, but never fully working through any of the issues addressed. Evidently,
Herzog and commissioning executive producer Jim McNiel have hours of solid
supplemental footage that may very well be re-purposed into different media
forms, including perhaps the miniseries Lo
and Behold really should have been. Still, it would be interesting to listen
to Herzog discussing the history of lint traps, so given its heady topics, Lo and Behold should be a no-brainer for
his fans. Recommended for what it is—an unresolved and perhaps unfinished work
of technological-sociological history from a major documentarian-auteur, Lo and Behold opens this Friday (8/19) in
New York, at the IFC Center.
Labels: Documentary, Werner Herzog