Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
For his latest trick, the tirelessly curious Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, Cave of Forgotten Dreams) turns his camera on the internet. The German maestro is no digital native – he eschews even a smartphone – but this proves a boon, liberating Herzog to explore the digital future as if a tourist.
Starting at the UCLA site where the first internet message was typed – a ‘holy place’ – Herzog leads us on a whistle-stop tour, encountering online evangelists and prophets of doom, organised under ten chapter headings. He travels to the town of Green Bank, where locals have settled because proximity to a telescope prohibits radio waves and cellular signals; to a laboratory where robot footballers are being constructed; to the home of a family tormented online following the death of a daughter; a self-driving car developer; internet rehab clinics. Elon Musk, a high-priest of digital entrepreneurship, preaches the importance of humans colonising Mars. ‘A one-way ticket?’ chirrups Herzog. ‘I would come along’.
Veering from impish exuberance to almost apocalyptic scepticism, the inimitable Herzog manages to extract frank and unorthodox responses from his interviewees, many of whom may be more accustomed to speaking in Ted Talk slogans. His abiding fascination: whether ‘the internet can dream of itself’. — Toby Manhire
“The filmmaker remains a fully engaged presence throughout, and it’s hard not to sense a mixture of pessimism and awe in the way he regards his subject… The virtual future may be now, but Lo and Behold, with its stimulating volley of insights and ideas, always feels persistently, defiantly human.” — Justin Chang, Variety