David Fincher’s new film explores the story behind the Internet phenomenon.
Facebook has more than 500 million active members, and altogether, they spend more than 700 billion minutes per month browsing the social networking site. But what is so intriguing about human lives that so many put them on display for the world to see? And why do their fingers have the muscle memory to automatically type “Facebook.com” every time they open a Web browser?
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, writer of “A Few Good Men” and “The West Wing,” and director David Fincher, who also directed “Fight Club” and “Zodiac,” sought to answer questions like those with their new film “The Social Network,” which will be released nationwide Oct. 1.
“I definitely have an opinion or a ‘side’ that I’m on,” Sorkin told The Temple News in an interview last week. “But I don’t want to say any more because I want people to have a blank slate going into the movie. Let them fight their battles in the parking lot.”
Set at Harvard University in 2003, the film tells the tale of the relationship between current CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, and former CFO Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield. The film also explores the relationships between both Zuckerberg and Saverin, and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the Harvard legacies and twin brothers who accused Zuckerberg of intellectual property theft, both played by Armie Hammer.
The film’s editing, sound and cinematography shape the script into a living, intimate yet foreboding piece about exclusivity and the burning desire to be accepted or noticed.
“[Facebook] is really democratization of socialization,” Eisenberg said.
While the song that accompanies the movie’s trailer – an acapella version of Radiohead’s “Creep” – may lead the audience to believe the movie is mainly about exploring the impact Facebook has on society, the film is plot- and character-driven, which may intrigue movie-goers who don’t have Facebook pages.
Sorkin balances a dark, serious story with humor, tying in lessons of morality throughout. He presents the story from three points of view. At many times during the film, it seems as though there isn’t one protagonist.
While the story revolves around Zuckerberg, he quickly becomes a character the audience hates to love and loves to hate. What’s remarkable about Eisenberg’s performance is he does not have a Facebook, and neither he nor Sorkin has ever met Zuckerberg.
“[I] never wanted to put an emphasis on impression, [but] more of an understanding of where [Zuckerberg] was coming from,” Eisenberg said when asked about his facial expressions in the film. He said he would listen to Zuckerberg’s voice on his iPod on his way to the set to get into character.
Hammer, who played the Winklevoss twins, said he was rigorous in preparing for his role. Not only did the Winklevosses attend Harvard, they also went on to become Olympic rowers. For Hammer, that meant waking up at 3:30 a.m. to row, going home at 10 a.m. to take a nap and then heading to the set to play two different characters.
On top of this, Hammer said Fincher likes to perfect scenes by doing multiple takes.
“There was one day where we spent an entire afternoon on four pages,” Hammer said. “I would spend a block of time being one twin and then a block of time shooting the entire scene over as the other twin.”
The thing about Fincher’s directing, however, is that for all the takes he shot, he only used one or two in the final film.
“He just knows what’s good and what’s going to work,” Hammer said.
Both actors jokingly explained that Sorkin wrote a 162-page script, as opposed to the normal 110-125 pages for a typical screenplay.
“In my defense, David was extremely precise and accommodating,” Sorkin said with a laugh. “He had me read each scene aloud at the pace I wanted it, then he would time it. On set, if the scene ran even a few seconds over, he would make sure it fit the exact time frame. In the end, none of the script was cut.”
The film holds a mirror up to society perhaps more than any other film of the millennial generation. And from the drunken college escapades to the “Facebook official” love scene, the reflection is quite disturbing.
“If the goal [of Facebook] is to bring us together, it’s doing exactly the opposite,” Sorkin said. “It gives you a chance to rewrite yourself. It’s an insincere form of socialization.”
While that may be the case, it hasn’t stopped more than 24,143 people from “liking” the fan page for “The Social Network” on Facebook.
Matt Flocco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.