For his latest trick, the tirelessly curious Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, Cave of Forgotten Dreams) turns his camera on the internet. The German maestro is no digital native – he eschews even a smartphone – but this proves a boon, liberating Herzog to explore the digital future as if a tourist.
Starting at the UCLA site where the first internet message was typed – a ‘holy place’ – Herzog leads us on a whistle-stop tour, meeting online evangelists and prophets of doom alike. He visits a self-driving car developer; the town of Green Bank, where locals have settled because proximity to a telescope prohibits radio waves and cellular signals; and the home of a family tormented online following the death of a daughter. Elon Musk, a high-priest of digital entrepreneurship, preaches the importance of colonising Mars. ‘A one-way ticket?’ chirrups Herzog. ‘I would come along’.
Veering from impish exuberance to almost apocalyptic scepticism, the inimitable Herzog manages to extract frank and unorthodox responses from his interviewees, many of whom may be more accustomed to speaking in Ted Talk slogans. His abiding fascination: whether the internet can dream of itself.