The Social Network: The Rosebud Connection

Citizen Zukerberg

Citizen Zuckerberg

Since it’s release when I saw it in the Cinema,I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched “The Social Network”. But when i first heard that they were doing a FaceBook movie , i was like “how is that going to work?” , “Enough Hollywood come up with something new”. I didn’t think much of it again, and then the trailer came out and i was mildly interested but flipped off again.

Then it was actually out in the cinemas and then i heard Aaron Sorkin(West Wing,A Few Good Men) and David Fincher(Seven,Fight Club) were at the helm. That revelation that a brilliant writer and reverred director were at the wheel was the clincher that sucked me into venturing to the cinema.

It turned out to be my favorite movie of 2010. Now remember 2010 was the same year of “Inception” ,”Black Swan”,The Fighter etc . The opening scene in phenomenal, it’s an x-ray of the personality and world view of the anti hero Mark Zuckerberg. The conversation is a perfect set up acting as the catalyst for the entire movie and sets the tone for everything that we are about to witness. I say witness because that is what it feels like watching this movie, witnessing the birth of a global phenomenon.

Considering most of the content is developed from the court  depositions and the book “The Accidental Billionaires”. This is a movie that all things being equal should be a snoozefest ,but it is far from being boring, in the capable hands of David Fincher working with the excellent script by Aaron Sorkin it is a cerebral and emotional thrill ride.

The young cast of actors Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer deserve just as much credit for turning in phenomenal performances. This film has dispelled and catapulted Eisenberg out of any comparison he’s had with Michael Cera(Arrested Development,Juno). Their delivery of the rapid fire dialogue will no doubt enter the annals of great cinematic moments. Eisenberg’s delivery of Mark’s controlled venomous monologue in response to what he termed a “condescending question”, goes right up there with Jack Nicholson’s  anti social Melvin Udall in “As Good as it Gets” . Same goes for when Garfield finally goes ballistic after he discovers he’s been shafted out of the business like  ‘fresh-fish’ in a maximum security prison. No doubt their performances in these roles will open many doors and eliminate any previous type casts they may have faced.

I dare to say that despite the excellent script, in the hands of a less capable director, this  would have fallen flat on it’s face and disappeared, proving the skeptics right.

However, TSN is yet another milestone in the stellar career of Fincher, who previously brought thrillers such as Seven & Zodiac, the technically magnificent The Curious case of Benjamin Button, and generation defining Fight Club. The Social Network will make this his third adaptation from a book and his second based on a true story. And although Fincher does not write his own scripts, you can see the personal stamp he puts on each of his films, and the thematic thread that runs  goes through all the projects he choses. Human nature, it’s dark side and the exploration of the grey areas we often wish to ignore. A recurring theme in his films is the rarely picture perfect happy ending.

I’m going to say something which may be considered sacrilege amongst movie purists. The Social Network(TSN)  is the ‘Citizen Kane’ of our generation. Now while steam comes out your ears and you pick your jaw from the ground, while gathering your thoughts to write a flaming retort on my cinematic equivalent of blasphemy, let me explain.

First of all, for those of you not familiar with said movie, Citizen Kane(1941) is considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made. Written,Directed and starring a young Orson Wells. It is a cinematic achievement that till today few can ever hope to achieve. For many years it’s remained in the top 5 list of greatest films ever made. Now having said that, i don’t compare it in cinematic achievement,i.e cinematography etc  but in theme.

Citizen Kane was about a man’s rise from nothing to power.He started with nothing and down the line , with getting  ivy league education, become one of the richest men in the world. He made many enemies along the way, lost most of what was dear to him, and ended up lonely. Even closer to Kane, he was against the movie being made about him and denied any similarities between him and what was portrayed on the screen. Sound familiar? That is precisely what TSN is all about. The price of power and achievement. Which begs the question, are we the same people when we arrive at that treasured professional, social of financial destination? Do we change and is it for the better or the worse.? .

SPOILER ALERT

Another similarity is Rosebud, which is the first thing we hear in CK, and it is the last thing we see. It symbolizes Kane’s simpler days, days of childhood innocence that he missed and longed to recapture. In TSN, Erica , his soon to be ex, is the first person we see Mark with, the only other human we know him to have some sort of real social connection. He looses this connection and his determination to forget about her is what leads him to create FaceMash which was the snowball that lead to the avalanche that is known as FaceBook. At the end of the movie, when the dust has settled and he sees the wasteland that the legal and emotional battles have left behind, he tries to reconnect to Erica, the last link to a life prior to success and complete isolation. Erica is the Rosebud of TSN.

SIDEBAR

For an aspiring film maker and screen writers , TSN goes to show that you can make a magnificent and entertaining film that does not have to shoehorn in explicit sex scenes, gun fights, ‘money shot’ and explosions. All it takes is a great story that is turned into a great script, wonderful actors are cast and it is taken up by a visionary and capable director.

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