One of the best films of 2010 gets a solid array of features including an excellent making of documentary.
The Social Network begins with Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) getting dumped by a girl (Rooney Mara) which prompts him to hack in to the campus computer network as revenge, whilst blogging about his reasons for doing so.
This brings him to the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (played by Armie Hammer) and Divya Narendra (Max Minghella), who approach him with the idea of a social network site, but Zuckerberg opts to create his own version with the help of his friend Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield).
Originally called TheFacebook it is an instant success at Harvard and campuses across the US, which leads Zuckerberg to California where entrepreneur and Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) helps him approach investors.
The narrative is intercut with flashforwards to various legal depositions, in which characters explain the conflicts which would later arise, with the Winklevoss twins and Narenda claiming Zuckerberg stole their idea, whilst Severin (who initially bankrolled the site) falls out with Zuckerberg over Parker’s influence.
Aaron Sorkin’s sculpted rat-a-tat dialogue provides a mixture of humour, pathos and insight in presenting what Facebook did to the founders, as well as the overall ironies for them and the wider culture that embraced it.
David Fincher might also seem a counter-intuitive choice, but aside from directing with his customary skill and taste, he manages to ramp up the drama by keeping things simple and focused. Compared to his previous work it moves quickly and the editing and structure all ground the information in a tight and engrossing package.
The director’s customary dark visual palette is on display again, but the balanced compositions from cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth nicely dovetail the crispness of the digital images, which were shot on the Red One digital camera.
Building on the visual look of the film, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide a wonderfully discordant score which not only complements the action but feels like a groundbreaking use of music in a mainstream film.
The performances are excellent across the board: Eisenberg hits the right notes as a brilliant and surprisingly sympathetic anti-hero, Garfield depicts the dry wit and regret of the forgotten man in Facebook’s creation; Armie Hammer (with the help of SFX wizardy) is terrific in the dual role of the ‘Winklevii’ and Justin Timberlake is surprisingly strong as the rebellious entrepreneur Sean Parker.
Like Fincher’s Zodiac (2007) is a densely constructed film that plays very well on repeated viewings.
For some it will be the cautionary parable of a website which connected over 500 million virtual friends which also broke up the actual friends that created it.
For others Mark Zuckerberg could become like Gordon Gekko, an unlikely figure of inspiration to a generation who use technology to change old assumptions and beliefs.
With its mix of potent ideas and impeccable craft, it is a likely Oscar contender and deserves the recognition and kudos, as it paints a fascinating picture of age old tensions at the heart of new technology.
Sony have done an excellent job with the Blu-ray and the audio and visual transfer is outstanding.
The extra features in the 2-disc special edition are extensive and provide a lot of insight into the filmmaking process.
- Director’s Audio Commentary: Director David Fincher discusses the tone, casting process, the performances, adapting the film from the source materials, mixing drama and realism, visual effects and more.
- Writer and Cast Audio Commentary: Aaron Sorkin and the main cast – Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, and Josh Pence – discuss working with Fincher, what it was like on set, the score and give their take on the events depicted in the story.
- How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Facebook? (1080p, 1:32:43): This four-part documentary, split in to sections called Commencement, Boston, Los Angeles, and The Lot, mixes a lot of on-set footage with cast and crew interviews, covering the the pre-production and shooting in some depth.
- Jeff Cronenweth and David Fincher on the Visuals (1080p, 7:48): The DOP and director discuss how the visual look of the film and the challenges of shooting digitally.
- Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter, and Ren Klyce on Post (1080p, 17:24): Fascinating look at how the 268 hours of footage were edited down to the final cut, exploring the editing and sound design.
- Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and David Fincher on the Score (1080p, 18:55): Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross discuss how they came up with the film’s groundbreaking score.
- In the Hall of the Mountain King: Music Exploration (1080p): An early, discarded version of the music for the Henley Regatta sequence compared with what we seen in the final film.
- Swarmatron (1080p, 4:28): Trent Reznor describes an instrument that featured heavily in the film’s score.
- Ruby Skye VIP Room: Multi-Angle Scene Breakdown (1080p): An interactive feature in which allows you to watch the Ruby Skye nightclub sequence from four different perspectives: rehearsal, interviews, tech scout and principal photography.