Director Werner Herzog takes a general yet focused look at the pros and cons of the internet in new documentary Lo And Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World.
Told through a series of chapters, Lo And Behold is exactly what you'd expect from a Werner Herzog documentary as the soothing-voiced filmmaker learns about the internet's origins before exploring the impressive technological and scientific advances made possible by being connected to a worldwide network but also the people negatively affected by this seemingly boundless medium. Not one to really impose his own opinions on the audience, Herzog makes sure to show different sides of the equation and leaves the professionals to do the talking when it comes to the more technical stuff. We see how education can reach a greater number of people nowadays but we also see how insensitive anonymous people online can be, we touch upon robotics and space travel but we also meet young gamers dealing with addiction whose lives online have taken precedent over their real one.
While I would argue that Werner Herzog's documentaries are most effective when focusing on one or very few real people, it's hard to deny that even his most general or abstract themes bring up some interesting questions. Lo And Behold is maybe not the definitive internet documentary but it's a worthwhile mosaic, a painting in broad strokes outlining what can be achieved through the web and what we're also risking. From soccer-playing robots to modern day hermits, many of the segments are slightly out-there but kept open to interpretation. The last third of the film includes an interview with Elon Musk and Herzog brings up the Philip K. Dick-esque notion that the internet may be able to eventually dream of itself, if it doesn't already. You get the feeling that the director had much more to say about that subject and could have probably made dozens of documentaries on it but the film merely aims to start a conversation, get people thinking about the future and it does that well.
As far as Werner Herzog documentaries go, Lo And Behold may not be the most impactful but it's just as well-made, interesting and valid as you'd expect from a Herzog film so I certainly recommend it. Especially after the countless brainless blockbusters Hollywood's been putting us through lately...
Refreshingly cerebral doc.