THE SOCIAL NETWORK: A DEFINITIVE MOVIE FOR THE YOUNGER GENERATION
This article is written by JAKE COYLE at THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
THE SOCIAL NETWORK is a stylish hyperspeed portrait of a web connected generation made by two men with scant love for the internet who wouldn’t be caught dead friending anybody.
Director DAVID FINCHER and screenwriter AARON SORKIN’S film is about Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) and the contentious creation of the social networking behemoth Facebook.
Born in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room, the site has grown to more than 500 million users worldwide in six years’ time and has a dollar worth in the billions.
The movie, which premieres at THE NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL today and opens in theatres OCTOBER 1, is pulsating with prestige, of the moment hipness and glowing early reviews.
Much of the excitement is over the sheer filmmaking prowess of the movie, the classical storytelling and the whip smart script — all 162 pages of it, distilled into a dialogue rich two hour film.
But it’s also a fascinating, pugnacious rendering of a younger generation by two filmmakers not of it.
“The movie is sort of built to pick a fight,” commented AARON SORKIN.
“Not with Facebook. I mean it’s built not to have unanimous consensus about what just happened.”
THE SOCIAL NETWORK has already found controversy for its portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg as an arrogant backstabbing hacker with, of all things, social awkwardness.
The film details the fallout of his friend and original Facebook CFO Eduardo Saverin (portrayed by Andrew Garfield, the Spider Man heir apparent) and the claims of college classmates Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (twins played with digital help by Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) and Divya Narendra (MAX MINGHELLA). Both Eduardo Saverin and the Winklevoss clan have sued Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, claiming a hand in its invention, winning undisclosed settlements.
AARON SORKIN’S screenplay was adapted from Ben Mezrich’s book THE ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRES.
After reading the author’s early treatment, AARON began his script while Ben Mezrich was writing his book and even finished his screenplay before the book was released.
Approached by producer SCOTT RUDIN, DAVID FINCHER came aboard but with the insistence that the film not be cycled through development and numerous revisions, but rather expedited to keep its timeliness.
“It felt like it was talking about something that was immediate,” stated DAVID FINCHER.
“It used to be that to make an invention that touched as many lives as Facebook has, you had to have a wind tunnel, you had to have an assembly line, you had to have a work force. And now all you need is two cases of Red Bull and a DSL.”
AARON makes no bones about it: He’s not a fan of the internet.
He said that in innocuous wall posts like “Had a girls night tonight. Split five desserts. Better hit the gym tomorrow!” he hears someone aping ALLY McBEAL or CARRIE BRADSHAW — projecting themselves as a fictional type.
Social networking, from his perspective, has done the opposite of its intention and “pushed us further apart.”
“When I signed up for this, I had heard of Facebook. But that’s it. Frankly, I had heard of Facebook the way I’ve heard of a carburetor. I can’t pop the hood of my car, point to it and tell you what it does. My attraction to this were the themes that are as old as storytelling itself: of loyalty and betrayal, friends and enemies, power, class, jealousy.”
Particularly in scenes set at Harvard, THE SOCIAL NETWORK is filled with intelligent teenagers who believe steadfastly in their perspectives. Their young lives — driven, sexual, messy — spill out onto the internet.
“Probably kids today waste as much time on Twittering and instant messaging as I did on Gilligan’s Island,” DAVID FINCHER remarked.
“At least people are going to have very dexterous thumbs when they ask the age old question: ‘What are you doin?'”
DAVID FINCHER, with tongue firmly in cheek, calls the film “the Citizen Kane of John Hughes movies” — a kind of 21st century morality tale.
Where his previous two films — THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and ZODIAC – dealt with the passage of time, THE SOCIAL NETWORK hums to an accelerated modern pace, set to Trent Reznor’s synthesizer heavy score.
Mark Zuckerberg is depicted as a time condensed Charles Foster Kane, successful but regretful by his mid 20s.
Jesse Eisenberg has perhaps a less cynical view of the internet. Not long after Mark Zuckerberg was inventing Facebook, Jesse launched a much smaller and much less ambitious wordplay site called OneUpMe.com. His cousin and Facebook employee Eric Fisher now runs it; ironically, users need a Facebook account to play.
In preparation to play Mark Zuckerberg — a relative blank slate considering the little known about him — Jesse watched everything he could watch of the young CEO. After reading that Mark Zuckerberg had been a fencer, he took fencing lessons. He listened to his speeches on an iPod on his way to the set and grew to have a “great affection” for him.
“I had the unique position on set of having to defend my character for six months,” Jesse commented.
“Even though the character occasionally acts in ways that are hurtful to the other characters, I was in the unique position of never seeing him in any light but a completely justified one. It’s impossible to play a role any other way.”
The portrayal is both harsh and empathetic, treating Mark Zuckerberg as a visionary with little patience for condescending adults. Facebook, which didn’t cooperate with the film, said in a statement that “The movie might be a sign that Facebook has become meaningful to people, even if the movie is fiction.”
“You have to answer to its factuality,” AARON SORKIN said.
“I understand Facebook pushing back against the movie. That’s both predictable and understandable. They’re not doing anything wrong; it’s what I’d do, too. First of all, Facebook’s beef isn’t with the movie, it’s with the people who sued them and the testimony they gave.”
“If I were Mark Zuckerberg, if I were Facebook, I would want this story only told from my point of view, which is what they wanted. But we’re telling it from their point of view and the point of view of Eduardo Saverin and the point of view of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.”
The OSCAR drumbeat has all ready started for THE SOCIAL NETWORK, with many prognosticators expecting considerable awards attention for the film. DAVID FINCHER, AARON SORKIN and JESSE EISENBERG are all doing their best to ignore such talk for now; they know how fast and fickle on line conversation can be.
“It’s scaring the heck out of me. I won’t lie to you,” AARON stated of the incredible interest.
“The roll out is enormous. The reaction has been extremely positive — which can only mean one thing: The backlash will begin any moment now.”