In the past decade, the web has gone from a place where it was possible to download free .mp3s, to a place where you could list your top friends, to a completely immersive experience, where entire human dramas are played out on a daily basis. With Twitter now a global soapbox and Instant Messaging and Facebook replacing phone calls and even real life relationships, the internet is rife with drama. And now an innovative Canadian short film, Noah, captures the drama of human connection (as lived online, without once leaving the computer screen) in 17 minutes. Click below to learn more and watch (and be sure to close all your other tabs!)
Noah tells the story of a boy, a girl, a Facebook account, and the new vistas of communication we are living with every day. Created by Canadian film students Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg, the film recently debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The setup for the story is as old as love stories: a boy and girl ponder their imminent separation (going away to college), but everything we see is mediated through the boy's computer screen -- the Skype window he uses to chat with his girlfriend, the Facebook chats he has with friends, even a brief dalliance with Chatroulette can all be considered to be "sets" the filmmakers used to make their movie.
The film addresses an all-too common issue in relationships these days, i.e. when your significant other knows your social media/email password, things can get out of hand, rather quickly. Of the plot, the less said, the better, suffice it to say that it makes Chatroulette a little poignant, which is a feat in and of itself.
(WARNING: The film is NSFW, featuring some scenes set on Chatroulette with brief full frontal male nudity, because, well, it's Chatroulette.)
We never leave the screen, and never have to. The characters are both young (according to their fictitious Facebook profiles, born in 1993, which, I am old, you guys) and the idea of interacting entirely online is even less jarring for them than it was for people of my generation, only a few years older.
But in a world where your relationship status means everything, and a click of a mouse can't be taken back, the young directors manage to wring suspense and pathos out of what might at first glance seem like a one-note idea. They use traditional narrative, it's just that the framing devices are completely digital. No one interacts face to face, and we learn of all developments through text chats, video windows, iTunes playlists and relationship statuses.
Noah is definitely worth a watch, if only because it's fascinating to see how imaginative these filmmakers are in their ability to set a dramatically digital stage from what is typically perceived as the cold and impersonal nature of cyberspace.
What do you think of the idea of a film set in cyberspace? How do you think new social media platforms will affect film, not just in the ways it is distributed/marketed/ funded etc. but in a narrative sense?