The Social Network
If anything can be derived from a critical analysis of both The Social Network movie and its Blu-Ray release, it is that cutting-edge technology will always be subservient to content. The Social Network is one of the year’s best and most revered films. While it has a very contemporary appeal due to the ubiquitous nature of Facebook, it is a great movie because all the traditional elements fall into place (much like any great movie). Anyone who has seen The Social Network will know that it’s not
simply about Facebook, but about the true nature of human interaction. In that, perhaps there is a great irony. For its HD home release, The Social Network makes sure to provide the traditional features in an edifying form, which is quite invaluable.
Written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, The Social Network depicts the beginnings of Facebook. Started by Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), in his college dorm, the movie isn’t so much concerned with the how and why as it is with the circumstances of Facebook’s inception and the impending lawsuits. Following a non-linear plotline, the film cuts back and forth between these circumstances and the two depositions that Mark must endure. We find out early on that Mark is being sued by Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), who is his best friend and the former CFO of Facebook. He’s also being sued by the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer playing both thanks to computer graphics, Josh Pence was the body double), who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea after he made a verbal agreement to work on their online project. While this description may make this movie sound boring on paper, the interlacing narrative, the rapid acerbic dialogue, the tight editing, the confident direction, and the nuanced acting engage the audience in a way that is simply unprecedented for this type of material.
The two-disc Blu-Ray set comes in a paper slipcase with a paper flap cover. The first disc contains two audio commentaries. The first is with David Fincher, and the other with Aaron Sorkin and many of the principles of the cast. Both commentaries provide insight, however the Fincher one is preferred due to the fact that it isn’t fragmented like the second commentary. With the exception of Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Josh Pence, all of the participants were recorded separately. While still interesting, Fincher’s track is more revealing because of the detail given about his directing process. He also plays with the censored expletives on his track to humorous effect.
The second disc contains several featurettes. The highlight is How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Facebook?, which is an hour and a half documentary on the creation of the film. There are a number of talking heads, but the amount of fly-on-the-wall footage captured between pre-production and production is far more fascinating. There is a lot of rehearsal footage in the weeks leading up to filming (though it looks more like table readings). We see screen tests, costume tests, and footage from while on location in Boston, LA, and the back lot. While this alone would be great, what makes this feature so strong is that it has a sense of purpose unlike most EPK material. The documentarians do an excellent job of juxtaposing the happenings on set to what is being said by the cast and crew. This gives a sense of purpose and organization to this making-of. Other features on the disc include a few 10 to 20 minute videos interviewing the crew. In keeping with the main feature, there are various
talking heads juxtaposed with footage of actual work being done on the film. Interviews include Jeff Cronenweth, who was the director of photography, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who composed the score, Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter who edited the film, and Ren Klyce who did the sound design. There are also various cuts of Reznor’s interpretation of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” The first cut is more in keeping with the Wendy Carlos influence they were originally going for. Lastly there is a
multi-angle scene breakdown of the Ruby Sky VIP room scene. Essentially the viewer is expected to switch between four mini-features that play simultaneously. While these clips are informative, it probably would have worked better as another sequential featurette. Invariably the viewer will end up watching it over four times.
The video itself is quite sharp with next to no aliasing. However there are some minor compression issues popping up every once in a while. It is nothing major, but it might not be the most pristine home video every seen. Audio is quite strong, presented in English and French in 5.1 DTS-HD MA, there are no flaws to speak of. Each nuance of the sound design is captured in full capacity. The Social Network HD home release makes good on its film and the supplementary content. The features on both discs prove insightful and informative. The film itself is great. And while the image isn’t perfect, the content is all there, which is what really matters.