At the Sundance news that his latest doc “Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World” (August 19) had sold to Magnolia Pictures, Werner Herzog responded with characteristic wit: “My dream at Sundance to take off from the Olympic ramp on skis remains unfulfilled, but I am even more exhilarated by the fact that my film now is taking flight through Magnolia.”
Waiting outside the Indiewire photo booth at Sundance, Viggo Mortensen, who is about to do a panel for “Captain Fantastic,” is eager to meet the German documentary legend. When Herzog arrives, Mortensen introduces the wind-blown filmmaker to all his screen children. We repair to a room at the Chase Sapphire Lounge, but are eventually driven out by the noise.
“Lo and Behold” features ten conversations with Herzog and various tech pioneers, from a recovering game addict in rehab to PayPal and Tesla co-founder Elon Musk, Internet protocol inventor Bob Kahn, and famed hacker Kevin Mitnick. Magnolia is targeting a 2016 theatrical release.
Herzog was so intrigued by the subject that he persuaded his backers to let him expand a series of shorts into a full-length feature. He tracks the history of the World Wide Web, and explores some of the great minds who invented it, with apparent delight. Even though he avoids the Internet — counseling all would-be filmmakers to spend their time reading books instead — Herzog zealously delves into arcane areas of the virtual landscape with the same curiosity he brought to the Amazon, Sahara, South Pole and Australian outback.
At Sundance he not only spoke to me but had a charming Cinema Cafe conversation with Oscar nominee Joshua Oppenheimer (“The Look of Silence”), excerpts of which you can watch below.