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October 01, 2010 - Image 8

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FROM LEFT: Jesse Eisenberg (Marissa McClain/Daily); Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield in "The Social Network" (Courtesy of Columbia); Aaron Sorkin (Marissa McClain/Daily)
FACEBOOK IN FILM

SOCIAL NETWORK
From Page 7
between Facebook co-creators
Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin
(Andrew Garfield, "The Imagi-
narium of Doctor Parnassus")
and Napster creator Sean Parker
(Justin Timberlake). At the same
time it intercuts with a scene a few
years later, in which Zuckerberg
and Saverin sit across the table in
court, opposite sides in a civil suit.
While not a revolutionary film-
making style, it's cleaner and more
fruitful study than any similarly
structured contemporary film.
Fincher and Sorkin dare to chal-
lenge your attention, and as a
result, they score the big reward.
Narratively, though, the film
suffers slightly from a sense of
self-importance. When all is said
and done, the film never brings
to full light the true weight of its
own story, but rests on the viewing
experience as evidence enough.
Beneath the filmmakers' narra-

tive tools lies a somewhat unful-
filling message. Comparisons to a
similar hurt-by-his-own-ambition
protagonist in "Citizen Kane" only
partially work: Mark Zuckerberg
is still alive, but also still among
the most successful people of his
generation and the youngest bil-
lionaire in the world. His failures,
while personally unfortunate,
didn't lead to his downfall. The
film leaves creating an inconclu-
sive, bitter opinion of Facebook's
true creation.
"The Social Network" will
undoubtedly stimulate debate
for months to come. Those who
use Facebook to laud or criti-
cize the film should realize their
analyses of "The Social Network"
indirectly continues its story.
But given the conflicted nature
surrounding audiences as they
step through the film and out of
the theater, it seems that Sorkin,
Fincher and company have pulled
off an impressive feat - showing
a contentious set of circumstanc-
es in a fair light, while still enter-
taining from start to finish.

Networking with the stars

Sorkin, Eisenberg
and Hammer discuss
the Facebook film
By CAROLYN KLARECKI
Senior Arts Editor
"I wasn't on Facebook. I had
heard of Facebook the way I had
heard of a carburetor," playwright
and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin said
in an interview in the Daily's offices
last month. "I can't pop open the
hood of my car and point to it and
tell you what it does."
Despite his lack of familiarity
with the popular social networking
site, Sorkin - whose works include
"A Few Good Men" and the Emmy-
winning TV series "The West
Wing" - never hesitated in signing
on to write "The Social Network,"
a film about Facebook's improbable

Ford
School

and tumultuous beginnings, out in
theaters today in tandem with Ben
Mezrich's book "The Accidental
Billionaires."
"Here's what happened: I got
sent a 14-page book proposal that
Ben Mezrich had written for his
publisher. And the publisher was
trying to shop it around for a film
sale and so that's how it got into my
hands. I think I was on page three
when I said yes to this. It was the
fastest that I've ever said yes to any-
thing," Sorkin explained.
Actor Jesse Eisenberg, who plays
Facebook founder Mark Zucker-
berg, was just as new to the online
craze as Sorkin.
"Prior to shooting, I had a cyni-
cal attitude toward it," Eisenberg
explained. "I think also, as an actor,
I value my privacy a little more ...
maybe I have a greater sensitivity
toward putting information about
myself online, because sometimes
people write stuff about me online
and it's so mean-spirited and I don't
want to be involved in that."
Once Sorkin had accepted the
project, which would become "The
Social Network," and landed David
Fincher ("Fight Club") as director,
he and Mezrich began figuring out
what exactly the whole Facebook
phenomenon is about. And he had a
lot to learn, since the site wasn't his
motivation to take on the project.
"What attracted me to itwas that
the themes in this story are as old as
storytelling itself," Sorkin said. "of
friendship, and loyalty, and betray-
al, jealousy, power, class - these
are things that Aeschylus was writ-
ing about, that Shakespeare was
writing about. Paddy Chayefsky
would've written this story. Luck-
ily for me, none of those guys were
available soI got to write it."
Sorkin was captivated by the
lawsuits brought against Face-
book founder Mark Zuckerberg
and decided to center "The Social
Network" on the company's legal
struggles. Zuckerberg was being
sued by his co-founder Eduardo
Saverin for allegedly cheating him
out of company ownership and
by Divya Narendra, Cameron and
Tyler Winklevoss at roughly the
same time for allegedly stealing
their idea. From these lawsuits,
three different stories of Face-
book's founding emerged.
"I decided that I was goingto tell
the story of how there are three dif-
ferent versions of the truth and get
a 'Rashomon' effect," Sorkin said.
"In other words, embrace the fact
that no two people are telling the
same story here."
However, when stories of loyalty,
betrayal, jealousy, power and class
are based off true events and real
people, they're typically met with
some degree of controversy. Sorkin
is aware some might not appreciate
the film.
"I don't think anyone would like
a movie made about the things they
did when they were 19 years old,"
he said.

"I'm sure that Mark and Face-
book would prefer that I only tell
the story from Mark's point of view,
but I'm telling it from Mark's point
of view and the point of view of
the people who were suing Mark,"
Sorkin said. "Facebook's beef isn't
with the movie, it's with the testi-
mony given from the people who
sued him. I hope controversy isn't
the reason why people buy a ticket.
I hope it's because they heard it was
good."
Some would argue that after see-
ing the movie, they got a glimpse of
a more compassionate Zuckerberg.
"My job for the six-month shoot,
every day, was to defend Mark
Zuckerberg and my character,
because you can't act in a scene if
you can't defend the character's
behavior," Eisenberg said. "So I
don't feel like he's acting in a way
that's mean-spirited or malicious.
I think he's coming from a place of
loneliness and feeling threatened."
The fact that Zuckerberg isn't
always portrayed in the most posi-
tive light was actually a relief for
Eisenberg. Despite his history of
playing well-meaning nice guys
(including lead roles in "Adventure-
land" and "Zombieland"), he said he
welcomed the change, as he found
it easier to play a rougher character.
"It's much, much, much less dif-
ficult," Eisenberg said of his role
in the film. "Because everything
in a movie is really contrived, and
so to act like myself in all those
other movies ... It's more difficult
because the characters are similar
to me, my gauge for authenticity
is so high. Like, I'm so much more
critical of myself because I know if
something's off. It's so much more
obvious to me."
To prepare for the role, Eisen-
berg watched videos of Zuckerberg,
took fencing lessons (even though
Zuckerberg - a known fencer - is
never seen fencing in the film) and
even attempted to learn some basic
programming. However, despite
all the research, neither Sorkin
nor Eisenberg has ever met the
Facebook founder. In fact, if Eisen-
berg eventually does meet the man
whose life he studied, it's likely to
be through a mutual acquaintance.
"When I read the script, I asked
my cousin for some help, because
my cousin is a computer program-
mer," Eisenberg said. "Then a
month before the movie ended,
he told me he had an interview at
Facebook and eventually got agreat
job at Facebook. And the first week
he was there, Mark Zuckerberg
came up to him at a party and said,
'I think your cousin is playing me in
a movie.' My cousin was a little ner-
vous, but then Mark said 'I think
that's really cool.'"
In remaining distant from their
real-life counterparts, the cast was
able to stay true to Sorkin's char-
acters and avoid impression-based
acting. Still, Armie Hammer, who
plays both Cameron and Tyler Win-
klevoss with the aid of body double

Josh Pence, did enjoy the fortune of
meeting the real Winklevoss twins,
the Olympic rowers who sued Zuck-
erberg for stealing their idea of an
exclusive social network.
"It was weird. It was really
weird," Hammer said. "We had
a totally different reaction than
they had. When I met them I was
like, 'Guys! It's so good to see you!
When you were 15, you remember
when your dad told you that and
your mom was like, 'No,' and then
you started rowing?' And they were
like, 'We just met you and you're
freakingus out."'
Both Eisenberg and Hammer
credit Sorkin for writing great dia-
logue that made it easy to perform,
even though Sorkin is known for
his incredibly fast pace.
"If you were given bad dialogue,
and you had to make it move at that
speed, it'd bethehardest thinginthe
world to do," Hammer explained.
"But because the dialogue is so well
written and so thought-out, it just
flows. It would be just like you and
I having a normal conversation. You
do the scene three or four times and
then all of a sudden, you don't have
to think about your lines, it just
flows. It's really cool."
For Sorkin, knowing his cast
would be so young made sitting
down to write the first scene a little
daunting.
"It is the youngest group of char-
acters I've ever written about,"
Sorkin explained. "And when I was
ready to write after months and
months of research and months
and months of just kind of pacing
around, climbing the walls, trying
to think of what it was I was going
to write, the day came when I knew
what the opening scene was and it
was time to write it, to actually type
it. And I thought, well, I'm going to
have to make them sound 19, and
what are sort of hip 2003 words?
And it was a disaster. I just stopped
doing that and I said, to hell with
them being 19, you're just going to
have to write in your own voice -
just write the way you write and it
all went smoothly from there."
With "The Social Network"
opening today, the movie will likely
leave audiences wondering how
much and which parts of the story
were real, while Facebook insiders
scrutinize the film for inaccura-
cies and imperfections. Still, Sorkin
emphasizes the right to creative
license when adapting real-life
events to the big-screen and hopes
the public will enjoy the film as a
workof art, not a documentary.
"If you take facts - facts that
aren't in dispute about Mark - and
you kind of use them as dots and
start connecting the dots, what's
in here, what's between the dots,
is character," Sorkin said. "I would
encourage people when they go
into a movie and it begins with
the words, 'the following is based
on a true story,' (to) look at it the
way you look at a painting and not
a photograph."

INFORMATION SESSION
Ford School B.A. Program
Tuesday, October 5TH
6pm-7pm, Weill Hall
Betty Ford Classroom, 1110
We invite you to attend our upcoming
information session about the Ford B.A.
If you are interested in learning more
about the undergraduate program at
the Ford School, we encourage you to
attend this information session. Light
refreshments will be provided.
.................. .......................... . .....................
www.fordschool. umich.edu/undergrad

CATFISH
From Page 7
Joost and Schulman uncover after
the twist: a strange, sad and com-
plex meditation on the loneliness of
the modern human condition.
"Catfish" is being released as
a documentary. Joost and Schul-
man have insisted many times that
everything in the movie is real. And
yet anyone paying attention will
have several unanswered questions
by the film's en, which serve to cast

doubt on its authenticity (a recur-
ring theme at the movies these days,
thanks to the likes of "Exit Through
the Gift Shop" and "I'm Still Here").
Is "Catfish" a true documentary
about people who construct imita-
tions of lives on their computers,
or is it a constructed imitation of a
documentary that only shows cer-
tain information to its audience
while withholding other things, like
a Facebook profile page?
Maybe the movie actually says
more about our times. If it is fake,
"Catfish" already serves as a docu-
menj of construction, deception

and acceptance of that deception.
Taking away the last "true" thing
about it makes the film even more
indicative of these themes.
Visitors to the movie's official
website have the opportunity to
simulate Nev as he chats with
Megan online, meaning that they
can pretend to be an imitation of
someone who is simulating a con-
versation with a fake person. "Cat-
fish" detractors might view the
experience as completely inane and
devoid of real-world meaning. To
others, it's just the next logical step
in our lives.

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