Film / Theatre Reviews - Reviews

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World


The great Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo) is back doing what he does best – documentary filmmaking. With Lo and Behold, his inquisitive eye is cast over the world of the internet; its past, present and future, with highly informative and entertaining results.

The opening shot is met by the unmistakable voice of the man himself, as he introduces one of the original pioneers of the internet, Leonard Kleinrock. He guides us into a perfectly recreated and preserved room, from which the first internet message was sent in 1969, and informs the viewer, with much gusto, as to what this message was. From here, we are brought on a journey of ten segments, each covering a different aspect of the vast universe of the internet, ranging from hacking, artificial intelligence and robotics, to the consequences of cyber bullying/trolling. The various subjects and issues are all represented by people who are hugely relevant to said industries – Elon Musk talks about interplanetary communication –  or have been impacted by the technologies. As expected, a distinctive slant is given due to the skills of Herzog and his uniquely inquisitive nature and daring interviewing techniques.

The origins of Lo and Behold are based on a 35 minute film that Herzog made in the US, about the dangers of texting and driving (it can be found on YouTube under the name ‘From One Second To the Next’). This led to him expanding upon the telecommunications subject due to the abundance of material and the fascinating people that he came across. Much of it is quite technical but Herzog’s dead pan delivery and humour cuts through the jargon and his surreal take on the subjects keeps it entertaining. But there is an underlying sinister edge throughout, especially when he gets into the topics of artificial intelligence and the impacts of a solar flare storm on our electronically interwoven societies. 

The main aim of the film seems to be to document how fast the internet age is moving and how reliant we have become in our everyday lives. He has gathered an exceptional group of people to enlighten us to the various technologies – infamous hacker Kevin Mitnick is probably the most entertaining – along with some harrowing stories that include a small group of people in the US whose lives have been ruined by cell tower frequencies. The only qualm that I have with the film is the lack of focus on the hugely influential porn and social media industries, but I would hope that he will expand on this topic as he did with the phenomenal Into The Abyss documentary and its 4 part mini-series for television.

Lo and Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World is another triumph for one of the greatest living directors. It is a well balanced, thoughtfully compiled and timely story of where our future is heading, for better or for worse. Vital filmmaking. Kev Lovski