Lifestyle & Culture

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World – Film Review

In recent years we have seen documentaries, such as Netflix’s “The Social Dilemma”, warning us of the dangers of the internet and social media. But what if we missed one of the best internet documentaries because it didn’t “trend”? Jordan Regnis reviews “Lo and Behold”. 

In 1969 “Lo” became the first message sent via the internet. Forty-seven years later, Werner Herzog’s 2016 documentary, “Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World” explores how the internet has evolved into a global phenomenon that has shaped society in several ways and will continue to do so into the future.

Herzog takes a broad approach to the topic by highlighting the positive and negative aspects of the internet, including issues concerning addiction and privacy. This is evident in interviews with individuals in rehab facilities for problems like video game addiction and those who have decided to live away from cell towers to avoid any issues from exposure to these. This film follows Herzog’s previous works, where he has made connections with outsiders who have been able to share their unique perspectives with the audience.

Herzog uses a practical structure that splits the film into ten parts using title cards and begins with interviews with early internet pioneers, such as computer scientist Leonard Kleinrock, who discusses the earliest uses of the internet and its communication capabilities. From this, the film progresses on modern-day inventors like Elon Musk, who talks about the possibility of colonising Mars by using the internet, the rise of Artificial Intelligence, and the potential dangers that this may cause. Through each of these stages, Herzog’s camera crew captures vital evidence that explains how the internet is currently being used to enhance travel, medical research, and robotics. One example of this includes self-driving cars and robots that can play soccer with each other. Additionally, audiences can see the machine that sent the first message via the internet, including a logbook that is the single record of what occurred on this very day.

Interestingly the interviewees aren’t always being interviewed in the traditional sense. Instead, they are being filmed as they move about and use their hands and body to describe the ideas and concepts they are discussing. One example of this includes opening a hidden compartment situated in the trunk of a self-driving car to show the set of computers that make the process possible. Additionally, the interviewees explain complex ideas using simple analogies and comparisons for the audience and Herzog to consider. In-between these interviews, Herzog narrates critical information, includes his own opinions, and presents additional questions to interviewees, allowing audiences to see their reactions and responses to new questions.

The documentary focuses on the most critical areas of the internet and examines how they can help us solve some of the world’s biggest problems. These include medical treatment options and research into areas such as cancer and AIDs. Herzog also explores the internet’s potential for helping earth potentially communicate with other civilizations from other parts of the solar system.

The cinematography of this film is stunning, where viewers can look inside Space X and even hackers conventions featuring Kevin Mitnick. Each of the interviewees continues to appear throughout the film, commenting on different aspects of the internet, and sharing new insights and opinions, including whether the internet dreams. Additionally, the soundtrack is highly appropriate for the nature of this film. Creating a chilling sense that the future of the internet is still unknown and is both an exciting and daunting prospect.

This excellent documentary from Herzog takes a highly prominent topic and breaks it down into a logical structure with its critical components that can be easily understood by a broad audience.

Feature Image by Lo and Behold; Reveries of the Connected World.

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