DIR: Werner Herzog • WRI: David Koepp • PRO: Werner Herzog, Rupert Maconick • DOP: Peter Zeitlinger • ED: Marco Capalbo • DES: Peter Wenham • CAST: Elon Musk, Lawrence Krauss, Lucianne Walkowicz
Werner Herzog’s latest documentary attempts to chart the rise of the almighty Internet and its impact upon the people and technologies dangling (often precariously) in its World Wide Web. While his past documentaries often thrived on eccentric characters and their outlandish pursuits, Lo and Behold shifts gear to focus upon an intangible phenomenon and inevitably, but forgivably, raises more questions than it can answer.
Herzog and co. present ten serialised chapters introducing a gamut of speakers ranging from internet scientists, robotic engineers, cosmologists, hackers and brain researchers all musing on the past, present and potential future of our connected world. The tapestry of information weaved among them offers some absorbing insights, ideas and the odd moral quandary most notably in the development of autonomous or self-driving cars and the man-or-machine culpability concern in case of accidents. If it sounds like too much our all too familiar German accented auteur and narrator graciously acts guide, encouraging philosophical debate to ground the tech talk, but its another language altogether and struggles to coalesce from chapter to chapter.
Unfortunately, the most enduring ‘reveries’ are the shortest; those dealing with real people, the victims of the web. A family in mourning harassed online, refugees of radiation living off the grid, and internet gaming addicts make for far more compelling subjects, perhaps deserving documentaries of their own but the lack of depth and their inclusion, often bookended by kooky sequences of robots playing football or ever so slowly twisting bottle caps off, feels like a disservice.
Most of the hallmarks are here, the compelling complex subject matter, the off-kilter commentary, the awkward but revealing interview silences but Herzog, an ardent and often domineering presence, seems to take a back seat in a self-driven vehicle of his own making. There’s a wealth of information to inspire further reading but the bite-sized chapters form a tenuous and sometimes trivial link, perhaps better suited if extended into a mini series format. It’s a mammoth undertaking, something Herzog is akin to, but his subject is a beast that can’t be tamed, leaving him awe-inspired but at a loss for words.
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World 28th October 2016 016