Lo and Behold :: Invention, Communication, Degradation, Addiction

Cineville :: Lo and Behold

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World is a fascinating, funny and at times rather moving documentary about the history of, and the future of the internet, made by one of the world's greatest living genius clowns. 

Nobody makes documentaries quite like Werner Herzog. First of all, they have Werner Herzog. Any film with Werner Herzog in it is worth seeing, and there’s enough of him in voiceover and occasional interjection mid-interview to satisfy fans of his penetrating eccentricity.

Then there’s the fact that he makes documentaries like films, framing them like highly stylised fiction, so you keep finding yourself questioning the reality of what you’re seeing. At least I do. Even the opening scene – in which internet pioneer Leonard Kleinrock addresses the camera like a Las Vegas car salesman, and slaps his hands against the side of the first ever ‘piece of internet equipment’ like he’s kicking a tyre – feels less like a documentary and more like something out of a David Lynch film.

Cineville :: Lo and Behold

Herzog draws the eccentricity of his subjects. He gets them to perform or pose or play along, even when what they’re talking about is deadly serious.

In the film’s strangest and saddest scene, a family who were victims of one the worst ever examples of internet cruelty are posed and framed like figures in an extended visual remix of American Gothic, with cakes.

Cineville :: Lo and Behold

In this particular scene, the contrivances serve to ramp up the tension inherent in the controlled emotion of the family, but also, as always, they also emphasise the wild improbability of absolutely everything. Herzog is really good at reminding us how insane life is.

Lo and Behold is a sprawling study of how internet technology has changed our world, allowing us to achieve ever more astonishing heights of invention and communication, and ever more terrifying depths of degradation and addiction.

I enjoyed it very much.

Cineville :: Lo and Behold


The Viewing

Another new cinema, De Balie, another gloriously bijou screening room. Only five people in the audience. I must admit, in situations like that – a tiny screening room of a new Werner Herzog documentary on an autumn afternoon in Amsterdam – the aches and horrors of the darkling world just totally melt away. (Unless they’re depicted on the screen of course.) But in general, in that rarified atmosphere, there is no Trump, there is no post-Brexit meltdown, there is no Keith Lemon. There is just me and four other sterling representatives of the cultural elite.

I’m just kidding of course. I didn’t really just say cultural elite. Or if I did, I didn’t mean it much.

So here's something you should know. Often - alright then, usually,  before I leave the house, sometimes before I leave the street – I invariably smoke a little weed. Usually a mere half-bowl in a groovy little pipe. If you’ve ever done the same, you will understand why I do it. It can heighten your enjoyment of the cinematic experience in a very pleasant way. Say no more. On the downside, it also fiddles with your hippocampus, which can play havoc with your perception in general. I tend to get lost even more easily than usual after I partake. Happily, I didn’t get lost today.

Unhappily, I did walk straight into a door. Briskly too, reading my ticket, smiling happily and striding confidently, face-first into the large glass door that led from the foyer to the restaurant and bar area.

As I hit the door, I made a massive clanging noise and to her eternal credit, the woman sitting maybe a couple of feet away on the other side of the door, managed to keep her laughter to an absolute minimum. In fact, it was barely noticeable at all. She even asked if I was alright. I was. Apart from the pain and the embarrassment, I was fine. A sweaty bespectacled clown in an oversized jacket. But fine.

Cineville :: Lo and Behold

It is of course possible that I might have walked into the door without having recently smoked a little weed. I guess we’ll never know. I just thought, in the name of full disclosure, you should know where my head was at, before it hit the glass.

I so wish I was cool. Just once.

Public humiliation aside though, ten out of ten. And another really lovely building with a load of stuff going on.

About the Author

I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you’ll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven’t already.

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