From hackers to robots, the legendary director explores the internet in his latest documentary
Werner Herzog’s “Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World” doesn’t need a theme song, but if it did a good one might be “Oh, Didn’t He Ramble.” That’s not a bad thing, mind you. Mr. Herzog in discursive mode is more interesting than many fine documentarians at their most tightly focused, and he has excused himself from close analysis, after all, by using “reveries” in the film’s title.
His starting point is the internet, arguably the most transformative technology in history, whose starting point he locates on the campus of UCLA. Undaunted by the size of his subject, he approaches it sometimes directly, as through a computer scientist who explains why the web gains efficiency when it grows in size, and sometimes obliquely, as through the potential threat of solar flares; the immediate threat of cyberwarfare; the uber-hacker wisdom of Kevin Mitnick; the bizarre spectacle of anguished eccentrics who claim hypersensitivity to electrical radiation; the eerie spectacle of little autonomous robots playing soccer, and the infinite ambition of Elon Musk. The most persuasive piece of wisdom comes from another scientist who says “I think anyone who claims they know what’s going to happen to the internet is not worth listening to.” Mr. Herzog’s film may not be a model of organization, but I loved every meandering minute.