Living in the age of social media, our lives have now become much like an episode of Black Mirror. 10 years ago, if someone told you that hashtags would lead to revolutions in the real world, you would have ignored them with a sceptical look but such is the life now. For a large part of the population, the social media culture became a significant part of our lives as soon as Facebook opened its doors for millions of users around the world in 2006.
Mark Zuckerberg soon became the new Bill Gates and essays about how college dropouts have the potential to make it big started appearing everywhere. Of course, no one knew that this sharing of information would one day turn this world into a 1984-esque model but back in those innocent days, we were stalking exes, declaring love and sharing photos on this social networking site.
Needless to say, Mark Zuckerberg’s life became the subject of various books and one such book was The Accidental Billionaires, which was later adapted by Aaron Sorkin for David Ficher’s The Social Network. Though Zuckerberg once said, “The thing that I found the most interesting about the movie, was that they kind of made up this whole plotline about how I somehow decided to create Facebook to, I think, attract girls,” but popular culture still calls it a sort-of biopic on Zuckerberg’s life.
With a ton of other social media apps, Facebook is on the verge of turning obsolete but The Social Network still remains a fine piece of cinema. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Justin Timberlake in pivotal roles, this 2010 film brought together the magic of director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.
Those familiar with Sorkin’s work would agree that he is one of the finest screenwriters today and a primary reason for the same is the way he writes his dialogue and constructs a scene. The Social Network moves along in two timelines. One that tells the story of the inception of Facebook during Mark’s college days and the other, in present day, where he is being sued by two separate parties.
On the surface, The Social Network is a film that tells the story of Facebook but since we already knew at the time of the film’s release that Facebook will ultimately be a success, as was the case in real life, Sorkin and Fincher chose to focus on the relationships in the film.
The driving factor of The Social Network is the fragile friendship between Mark and Eduardo (Garfield). This, combined with Mark’s gullible and naive nature, his tendency to not look beyond the surface and his not-so-clever ways of dodging the Winklevoss twins and Divya, all form Mark’s personality. His eccentric and self-consumed ways, his jealousy and the dire need to gain acceptance form his character that the director then utilises it to tell the story.
Sorkin and Fincher’s collaboration here can be seen clearly in the film. Sorkin is known for his fast-paced dialogue and we have all seen examples of the same in The West Wing and A Few Good Men among others. The Social Network relies on its dialogue to advance the story and even though the characters are talking all the time and hardly leave anything for subtext, the audience is engaged because of the constant movement, the simultaneous subjects that navigate a conversation and also the way the actors deliver these lines.
With too much dialogue in a confined physical space, one always runs the risk of losing the audience’s attention but here Fincher steps in and takes control. The scenes with depositions, that form the other timeline of the film, hold only because Fincher has shot them with enough cuts. Through all these scenes, characters are usually confined to their chairs but the angle chosen to highlight their headspace makes all the difference.
The Social Network won three Academy Awards – Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay (Sorkin) and was nominated in five other categories. The film released in 2010 but contrary to popular belief the film isn’t about Facebook and that is precisely why its stays significant as a strong piece of cinema.