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Sundance '13 Review: GOOGLE AND THE WORLD BRAIN

Director: Ben Lewis

Cinematographer: Frank Lehmann

Editor: Simon Barker

Official Synopsis: The story of the most ambitious project ever conceived on the Internet, and the people who tried to stop it. In 1937 HG Wells predicted the creation of the “World Brain”, a giant global library that contained all human knowledge which would lead to a new form of higher intelligence. Seventy year later the realization of that dream was underway, as Google scanned millions and millions of books for its Google Books website. But over half those books were still in copyright, and authors across the world launched a campaign to stop them, climaxing in a New York courtroom in 2011. A film about the dreams, dilemmas and dangers of the Internet, set in spectacular locations in China, USA, Europe and Latin America.

Story and Direction:

The battle between freedom of  information, copyright, commerce, and privacy is the big debate in tech currently. If you didn't keep up with Google Books controversy that happened over the last 8 or so years, this documentary will bring you up to speed. Odds are Google fanboys not going to find anything new here, and the movie feels very skewed against Google.

There are some great motion graphics and beautiful cinematography by Frank Lehmann. The editing does a great job of interweaving the interviews and creating some very cool connections. Because it covers several years and lots of technical information, the movie uses an insane amount of title cards, so many that is slows things down because of all the required reading. Which becomes even more reading because of all the subtitles for many of the non-English interviews. I think they should have narrated the information and shown us more motion graphics. Because I almost fell asleep 12 times while watching it.  

Chances That You'll See It in Theaters:

You're likely going to see this on TV or Netflix Instant. It's worth watching even if it's crazy dense with information. 


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