It’s surprising to know that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire before he could turn 30; the first self-made billionaire to achieve that feat so young. It’s also ironic he’s this young and already has his own Citizen Kane style story. It all started with the book The Accidental Billionaires and it led to the movie The Social Network.
The movie starts with Mark, a student at Harvard, on a date with his girlfriend Erica Albright. It ends in a breakup. Returning to his dorm in a drunken rage, Mark blogs negative defamatory comments about Erica and then gets Harvard students to rank female students by their attractiveness. His internet activities cause so much traffic within Harvard, most of the system is brought down.
He pays a price: six months academic probation and the male most hated by the Harvard females. He also gains from it as twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and their business partner Divya Narendra take an interest in him and want him to program their dating website for Harvard students only. Mark then tells Eduardo of his idea of a social network for Harvard students only called ‘theFacebook’. Eduardo lends money and even distributes the link to Eduardo’s social connections at his Harvard final club and it becomes a hit.
When word hits the Winklevosses and Narendra of ‘theFacebook’, they become furious and want to sue at first. Cameron Winklevoss recommends instead settling out of court ‘like Harvard gentlemen’. As ‘theFacebook’ grows in popularity and expands to more schools across the US, it further infuriates the Winklevoss twins and Narendra. Cameron decides to have Mark accused of violating Harvard’s Code Of Conduct only to be dismissed by the president of Harvard.
Later Mark, Eduardo and his girlfriend are introduced to Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster. Eduardo is suspicious of Sean’s personality and past activities cause suspicion in Eduardo but Mark is impressed with his ideas. Upon Sean’s suggestion, Mark moves the company to Palo Alto and changes the site name to ‘Facebook’ while Eduardo remains in New York seeking advertizing support. The Winklevosses learn after a rowing competition at Henley regatta that Facebook has even expanded to British universities and it’s there they finally decide to sue.
Meanwhile Eduardo is unhappy to learn of Sean living at Mark’s house and making decisions for Facebook. After an argument with Mark, Eduardo freezes the company’s bank account and returns to New York. After learning the deal he signed with Sean’s investors would dilute his share of the company to .03%, he confronts Mark with the intention to sue: right on the day Facebook hits its 1,000,000th member. Parker and some other Facebook interns are later arrested at a party for cocaine possession.
One unique thing about the movie is that it frequently shift back and forth from the days of Facebook’s creation and growing success to the separate lawsuits filed against Mark Zuckerberg from the Winklevoss twins and Eduardo. The back and forth throughout the movie adds to the intrigue on how this all happened. At the end, Mark’s junior lawyer tells him there will be a settlement with Eduardo because of the sordid details of Facebook’s founding and Mark’s own personality.
Many have compared this movie to Citizen Kane. Some have even called it Citizen Zuck. However it shows a theme that when creativity and a computer meet in this internet age, a lot of innovation can happen. A lot of negativity can come out too. Often one who can do such activity with a computer, especially a hacker, can get a false sense of invincibility or even a ‘God complex’. Some may feel that they’re either above the law or they can crush the law in the future with their cyberwisdom. Even for those that create legitimate sites, there’s that pursuit or drive to go for the biggest of the big. As George W. Bush once said, in America there are ‘haves and have-mores’. When one has a computer and an idea, the drive of being one of those have-mores is there. It’s all whether they play it out right.
The movie also shows how much the internet has changed the way one does things and also how ugly it can get. Nowadays there’s more fraud than ever. Defamatory posts like Mark’s of Erica are everywhere and widespread. Hackers are sometimes seen as heroes. Even seeing how Facebook changed the word friend from being a noun only to being a verb as well. One can even question whether the human race can now tell what a friend really is because of Facebook. Some only invite friends not necessarily to keep up with them but so they can compete against others for the most Facebook friends. Yet this movie presents a unique story how the person who practically revolutionized the word friend was lousy at being a friend.
There’s a lot of debate to the truth of this movie. Mark Zuckerberg and others say this movie is false. There’s even question whether Eduardo was really a friend of Mark’s. Don’t forget it was based upon the book The Accidental Billionaires which also is facing its own questionings of truthfulness. Fact or fiction, the movie was well played out and kept one intrigued. There was rarely a dull moment as it would keep one wondering what will happen next or how did Eduardo stop being friends with Mark.
The script written by Aaron Sorkin was excellent in all that it placed out, whether it be true or not. Often throughout the movie, it shows the trials and would get one wondering how it happened. The history from its start would tell how it all happened. David Fincher did a top notch job of directing, if not the best of the year. Jesse Eisenberg was a perfect fit for Mark Zuckerberg and played him out well. Andrew Garfield also was good as Eduardo and Armie Hammer did a good job of mastering his twin role as the Winklevoss twins. Is it just me or did the Winklevoss twins come across as Twiddle Dum and Twiddle Dee? Justin Timberlake was impressive as Sean Parker and really captured the egotism and God-complex of a computer hacker and site founder quite well. Rooney Mara made the most out of what little screen time she had as Erica Albright, the one woman who could bring Mark back to reality. The editing was excellent in shifting back and forth from the frame of Facebook’s creation to the lawsuits against Mark. It added to the intrigue of the film. The score from Trent Reznor fit the movie just perfectly with its climactic moments. The addition of other music also added into the film as well. Overall this had to be one of the best films of the year, if not the best, and I find it the most deserving of the Best Picture Oscar.
Very rarely does a film with good acting, good writing and good directing win over a big young audience. The Social Network delivered and gave us a masterpiece for our young century.