January 25, 2024
Peter Calder

The Social Network: a Film at the Start of our Tech Society (2 minute read)

This film has many great aspects; the Social Network, specifically, has one of my favourite openings in film. 

We open with Mark and his partner Erica having a drink in a noisy college bar, and they quickly escalate into an argument, causing them to break up. It's quite a dramatic way of beginning a film, but it does a tremendous job of giving us specific details and information about the main character right away: the type of person he is, his interests, his motivations, and the seemingly large chip on his shoulder which leads him to make a controversial website called "facemash" and then eventually Facebook.  

The cinematography in this film stands out among many. Going back to the beginning of the film again, the opening title sequence of Mark running through the Harvard campus, something as simple as that, was really well done. 

The visuals drive how you feel watching the story, and some of the details here are evidence of why it was nominated for best cinematography at the  Oscars. In the opening title sequence, they hosed down all the sidewalks and streets to make them slightly damp; this was so the light during these night scenes would reflect off the ground, giving more texture and illumination. 

Speaking of light, the light and colour of the whole film are beautifully done. This opening night scene, in particular, was so nicely lit; it looked so accurate to what the light would look like at night time in those settings. The camera moves were also very simple throughout the film, with no need for fancy, fast, quick cuts or intense moving shots. Simple pan, tilt moves and stationary angles were used to achieve the film's narrative. Using a warmer, greenish grade is quite popular in this kind of work. It works well with,  specifically, the exterior night scenes, using the street lamps and other practicals to drive the look. Another film that looks similar to this very contrasty look is Whiplash.  

The story of this film follows the interesting rollercoaster of the start of Facebook. As I've learned from watching this genre of film, but also from my working in the real world, there are a  lot of aspects of a tech startup or entrepreneurship that relate to a rollercoaster. 

The Social  Network explores different strings that dangle and intertwine together to eventually form the web that is the company of Facebook. Jesse Eisenberg does a great job encapsulating Mark's personality in this film, from that first breakup scene to the very last scene, seemingly regretful and reminiscing about Erica. 

Looking back on the film now, it was one of the first big  hit pieces of media that did a good job showing the new world that our society is moving into