Tuesday, October 12, 2010
friends: notes on the beginning
The Social Network is a film lit in three parts, each part dividing one's experience and entry into a privileged diegetic world. An early montage features a set of real experiences and people and places that are, for the spectator, glimpsed. For the character whose imagination stimulates the montage, they are conjured. There are a bus full of attractive young students partying. The light is low and fixed to illuminate only small spaces, intimate groups of students. The setting is evening time and clusters of space and people are lit by campus street lights. The images are detailed as if computerized -- a crisp, dusky, hi def feel.
There is something so realistic, so simple in terms of narrative content, yet simultaneously so outrageously unreal and fantastic about The Social Network. The narrative thread first unspools from a point like the innermost dot in a spiral circle that draws outward, progressively more ex-centric, and, ironically, not unlike the boredom inspired, overly-detailed pencil maze an elementary aged nerd might draw. Interior, invisible experience (the privileged ivy league-rs and their prettiest and popular 'Final Clubs) fuels these initial scenes. Paralleling similar territory as the less expositional sequences in films like Se7en, Fight Club and Panic Room, these are real places transformed by simulated social fantasies. They are just the fleshed out versions of what Fincher has done in these previous films: series of shots of the insides of pipes, circuits in a computer or the shots that guide us through walls. While these are quite literally impossible views--what is filmed is never usually seen by the naked eye, at least not in real time, there is just as abstract an idea applied to the socially fabricated community of friends that fools isolated computer trollers into accepting the reality of Facebook. Fincher draws us into spaces where symptom and effect are equally confused and concurrent. That most private fantasy, that of a real world that becomes imagined when one invokes oneself into it....this is also the starting point in a film about exponential growth. Growth that is both actual (financial, fame) and illusory (popularity, likability.) The measure of acceleration parallel to the increase in simulated output: shared qualitites of the trajectory of a FB profile, the trajectory of the explosion of wealth and drama in The Social Network, and the trajectory of the reception of a film. The pencil sketch starting with the dot and ending a maze filled page later. Beginning as a series of dreamed events, The Social Network (the film/ the site) grows more external and more actual (and thereby validated) upon being noticed by large numbers of other people.
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