Over the decades legendary auteur, Werner Herzog, has become quite the documentarian. When I spotted his documentary coverage of the internet—Lo and Behold—on Netflix, I was hesitant to press play. The internet is ubiquitous, and is the subject of non-stop media coverage and social dialog. What’s new?
As always, my resistance was met with ‘I am so glad I watched this film.’
Through interview, image, and rumination Herzog escorts the viewer through critical aspects of the cyber takeover of our world. Some of the topics covered are the lethal aspects of trolling and addiction, the internet’s origin, hacking, the internet’s social-psychological impacts, and a ‘Carrington Event’—the name given to very large solar storms. English astronomers Richard C. Carrington and Richard Hodgson observed and recorded such an event on September 1-2, 1859.
Learning about this event I felt Herzog had buried the lead.
Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed. The solar flare gave telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Papers close to the wires incinerated. Some telegraph operators were able to send and receive messages despite disconnecting their power supplies. One of the film’s interviewees reported that this kind of event happens occasionally, and that the Earth’s electronic equipment could fail as a result of a Carrington Event. Add this to giant meteor strikes and gamma ray bursts as a few non-human phenomena that would destroy our human world—or turn it into a Mad Max movie. There you go Roland Emmerich, add that to your long list of Projects In Development.
I found every scene in Lo and Behold either emotionally charged and/or fascinating. I am so glad I watched this film.