Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Social Network: Friend or Unfriend?

File:Social network film poster.jpg

In the year 2004, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg founded the social networking site Facebook. Over the years, as it gained more accessibility, the website became more and more popular, to where now anyone 13 or older can join. When the website was first launched, a few other Harvard students, who asked for Zuckerberg's help to create their own site prior to Facebook, filed a lawsuit for stealing their idea, which was eventually settled. In 2010, Columbia Pictures released a movie, The Social Network, about the founding of Facebook and the subsequent lawsuit. A lot of hype surrounded this movie before and after it came out, saying that it was one of the best movies that year. After seeing it, I can say that I liked it, but I'm not really sure I see what all the hype was about.

The movie begins in 2003, where we see Mark's girlfriend, Erica Albright, break up with him. While drunk, Mark posts mean things about her in his blog, and hacks into other servers to create a site called FaceMash, where the faces of two female college studednts are put side-by-side and male students decide on which one is hotter. The popularity of the site crashes Harvard computers, causing lawsuits to Zuckerberg on charges of hacking and invasion of privacy; these charges are dropped, causing him to nearly dodge expulsion with six months of academic probation. After hearing about this, Mark is apporached by twin Harvard rowers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who are impressed by his work and request him to help create a site where fellow Harvard students can interact online, called HarvardConnection. After helping to get the site running, Mark uses the concept of the site to create his own, called Thefacebook. Eventually, the Winklevoss twins learn about this, and later file a lawsuit.

Before I go into any more detail, I should mention that this movie is also based on a book, The Accidental Billionaires, by Ben Mezrich. Since I have not read the book, I will be discussing the film based on it's own merits. For starters, the story, based on what I saw, was well thought out and easy to follow. This movie takes itself very seriously, with a couple funny bits in the dialogue to prevent it from becoming too serious. After reading a little about the history of Facebook afterwards, I can say that the events are fairly accurate to what happened in real life.

The acting was also done rather nicely, especially the performance of Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg. In the movie, Mark comes off as a bit of a jerk, but Eisenberg pulls it off so well that it actually seems believable. Justin Timberlake also pulls off his part as Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster, rather well, though also coming across as a jerk. It was also rather interesting to find out, after seeing this movie, that the Winklevoss twins were both played by the same actor. I was actually convinced that they really were twins.

One thing that I think should get special mention is the music, composed by Trent Reznor, the frontman and sole member of Nine Inch Nails, and Atticus Ross. It was more of a combination between Electronica and Industrial, and fit the movie quite nicely. A few songs in the movie were taken from other bands, including The White Strips and The Beatles, but still worked for the movie when they were used.

The Social Network is a movie worth watching at least once. It's actually quite interesting to see how well the characters are pulled off and how believable they seem. There's a lot of action going on in it, but it's all quite subtle. The movie didn't exactly live up to the hype for me, but it was still enjoyable nonetheless. On that note, I suggest you check it out and see for yourself.

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