Werner Herzog’s latest film is a wide-ranging look at all things internet. He begins – rather unsurprisingly and eminently sensibly – at the beginning, focusing on the giant computer that was used to send the first message to another distant but connected computer (which began with the words ‘Lo and behold…’, hence the documentary’s title). From here he heads off in all kinds of different directions, utilising an episodic structure to address subjects as diverse as robotics, AI, the Internet of Things, the web, gaming addiction, online trolling and the potential colonisation of Mars (whereupon Herzog’s offer of ‘I would come along…I wouldn’t have a problem’ is disappointingly brushed aside by SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk). As long-term fans will probably expect, the German filmmaker is inherently fascinated and often surprised as he explores all of these different threads, and in each segment his boundless curiosity generally runs in tandem with intelligent, clearly-stated observations. The best parts of the documentary are where Herzog’s planned questions are ditched in favour of spur of the moment inquiries: at one point, for example, he asks two boffins whether they think the internet has taught itself to dream yet; they both look perplexed before one uncomfortably and unconvincingly attempts to answer, clearly unsure as to whether the man sitting across from him is joking or not. You begin to realise that it’s Herzog’s endless interest in humanity that ties most (if not all) of it together, at least as much as the subject of interconnectivity does, anyway. And once again he’s an excellent narrator, with that distinctive, clipped, heavily-accented English offering unlikely, familiar comfort.
Directed by: Werner Herzog.
Written by: Werner Herzog.
Cinematography: Peter Zeitlinger.
Editing: Marco Capalbo.
Music: Sebastian Steinberg, Mark Degli Antoni.
Running Time: 115 minutes.