As a documentary maker, Werner Herzog follows his muse into some strange corners (past subjects include 30,000-year-old cave paintings and a grizzy bear enthusiast). His new film is about the internet and its influence on our lives. Herzog, with his trademark severe Teutonic accent, experiences a mix of awe and uneasiness as he explores a radically changing world that’s increasingly lived online.
‘Lo and Behold’ is divided into 10 sections. In the first Herzog goes deep into the computer labs at UCLA in California to the earliest terminals, meeting the coders who, in October 1969, begat the web. The very first transmission was cut short: their attempt to type 'login' was interrupted after the first two letters.
But Herzog is hardly a tech evangelist: ‘Lo and Behold’ gets more interesting as it chases down the scarier consequences of the technology revolution. The Catsouras family from California were trolled after images of their teenage daughter Nikki’s fatal car crash went viral. (Nikki’s mum calls the internet the ‘spirit of evil’.) Elsewhere, a legendary hacker tells us how exposed we are to cyberattack, while a mobile-phone-free Appalachian community, made electromagnetically pure for the sake of a research telescope, swears by the extra head space. We all hurtle toward the same uncertainties; Herzog’s doc reminds us to open our minds to the good, the bad, the weird and the wondrous.