Lo & Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World

by Greg Vellante

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 19, 2016

'Lo and behold, Reveries of the Connected World'
'Lo and behold, Reveries of the Connected World'  

The "Lo" in Werner Herzog's latest documentary, "Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World," stands for the first word transmitted through the Internet. Intended to be "LOG IN," the computer crashed after just the first two letters. But, as one of the early founders enthusiastically exclaims on camera, "Lo" couldn't have been more appropriate for the game-changing launch of innovation that has now overtaken our entire sense of existence.

Where would we be without the Internet? It's a question that grows scarier and more complex the further we travel into the future and, as explored in Herzog's inquisitive piece of cinema, the answers are far more frightful. Interconnection has become a staple of society -- from cellular data and Internet protocols to gaming and artificial intelligence. So much so, in fact, that it is now essentially a pillar on which we have built our whole sense of survival. There are times in "Lo and Behold" where it is not just alluded, but rather asserted that, if the Internet were to disappear, the results would be cataclysmic.

But that's just the fear factor of Herzog's film, a doc that also explores the fascinations surrounding innovation, the dark side of progress and the existential query of what this means for humans as a species.

Herzog shows us a family of five, framed in haunting composition, consisting of a husband and wife who relay a horrifying story while their three daughters sit silent, just staring at the filmmaker, who remains off camera. The couple's fourth daughter was decapitated in a car accident, and a photo of the beheaded girl was taken on scene and shared online, spreading like a disease. It still continues to haunt the family to this day, surfacing in hateful emails on a regular basis.

He visits a commune free of any cell tower communication, where individuals explain their crippling condition of getting sick from cellular signals and needing to uproot their entire lives once technology began to evolve. One woman's plea to the camera to understand the seriousness of her illness may damn near break your heart. Later on, we see this community engaging in sing-alongs and band jams -- a moment that repeats and closes the film on a thought-provoking note related to the importance of human connection.

We also get insights into what the future holds for our connected future. How prevalent will robots become in society? (Answer: A lot.) How much will artificial intelligence evolve? (Answer: A lot.) How vulnerable will our privacy and security be once everything is connected to a network? (Answer: A lot.)

Herzog delivers all of this in his typical individualistic manner, and while certain parts of "Lo and Behold" drag with tedium, there are so many moments of sheer captivation to make the experience worth it. As a piece of nonfiction that explores where we are heading as a species, it's a downright important work of documentary filmmaking. Will the Internet dream? It's a question asked late in the film's running time. But perhaps the biggest question left for the viewers to dwell on is: Will our dreams ever stop?



Director :: Werner Herzog
Producer :: Rupert Maconick
Producer :: Werner Herzog
Executive Producer :: Jim McNiel
Executive Producer :: Dave Arnold
Executive Producer :: Tennille Teague
Executive Producer :: David Moore
Cinematographer :: Peter Zeitlinger
Film Editor :: Marco Capalbo