Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World

 

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Modern technology provides the subject for Werner Herzog's new documentary as he surveys the Internet.

 

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World

 

So many of Werner Herzog's more recent documentaries have made great use of their locations that it comes as something of a surprise to find him moving mainly indoors for a work in ten titled segments dealing with the Internet (which is not to day that Lo and Behold shot by his frequent collaborator Peter Zeitlinger is other than very well photographed). But, however unexpected the chosen material, it is Herzog's intelligence that shapes the approach here and, as so often, we do hear him on the soundtrack even though he never hogs the film and gives generous opportunities to a range of interviewees to speak on the subject.

 

In fact, this documentary falls into two parts with the first six sections dealing with the past and present history of the Internet and the rest of it looking at possible future developments. The opening chapter, which in passing explains the choice of Lo and Behold as the film's main title, looks back to the early days of the Internet in the 1960s ("It already sounds like pre-history", Herzog remarks). After that Herzog moves on to pinpoint both the good and the bad aspects of living in this technological age ('The Glory of the Net' is followed by 'The Dark Side'). Subsequent material covers rehab for Internet addiction and the plight of those ultra-sensitive to radiation signals no longer easily avoided. Equally striking is the footage about threats that face the world as it is today, threats that range from unprincipled hackers ("People are the weakest link, not technology") to the sun's periodic discharge of solar flares.

 

I myself was rather less taken by the later stages predicting future developments and assessing the extent of the progress made with artificial intelligence. But that is a matter of taste and Herzog's film is wide-ranging while remaining personal. His tact in not intruding too far and discomforting his interviewees surfaces twice and the film-making skill extends to an adroit use of music on the soundtrack. It is again music that provides the most personal touch of all: a night-time view of a performance on banjo and fiddles which seems incidental and yet characteristic, but then at the very end Herzog finds a way to make the playing of music express what it means in this increasingly changing world to be fully human - a lovely touch.                  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

  

Featuring  Leonard Kleinrock, Ted Nelson, Lucianne Walkowicz, Kevin Mitnick, Elon Musk, Werner Herzog. 

 

Dir Werner Herzog, Pro Rupert Maconcick and Werner Herzog, Screenplay Werner Herzog, Ph Peter Zeitlinger, Ed Marco Capalbo, Music Mark Degli Antoni with Sebastian Steinberg.

 

Netscout/Saville Productions/Pereira & O'Dell Entertainment/Skellig Rock-Dogwoof.
98 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 28 October 2016. Cert. 12A.