The Social Network: Collector's Edition (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 2-Mar-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-David Finsher
Audio Commentary-Aaron Sorkin and Cast
Featurette-How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Facebook? (1:32.48)
Featurette-David Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth on the Visuals (7:48)
Featurette-Making Of-Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter and Ren Klyce on Post (17:20)
Featurette-Making Of-Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and David Fincher on the Score (1
Featurette-Making Of-In the Hall of the Mountain King: Reznor's First Draft
Featurette-Making Of-Swarmatron (4:28)
Featurette-Making Of-Ruby Skye VIP Room: Multi-Angle Scene Breakdown
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 120:00 (Case: 115)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Fincher
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jesse Eisenberg
Rooney Mara
Bryan Barter
Brenda Song
Dustin Fitzsimons
Armie Hammer
Case ?
RPI $44.95 Music Trent Reznor
Atticus Ross


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

If you had invented Facebook, you would have invented Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg

     It is perhaps no surprise that the feature length documentary on the making of The Social Network (included as part of the exhaustive extras material with this Blu-ray set) is called How Did They Ever Make a Movie Out Of Facebook? It would have been interesting to have been at the pitch meeting, when a group of Hollywood executives were told that their next 40 million-dollar movie would be a film about a website on the Internet! Of course, in real life, their level of concern was probably close to zero. After all, when your director is David Fincher, working from a script by legend Aaron Sorkin based on a successful book, the only real concern would have been not whether the film was a critical success but whether the general public would want to see it. In fact, the public did respond to the critical acclaim and The Social Network did well at the box office; not as well is Facebook itself, but still well for a critically acclaimed think-piece. In fact, 2010 saw not one but two films about the Facebook phenomenon. The other was the documentary Catfish. Both are indispensable viewing. Interestingly, both films are not really about Facebook itself but rather what it means to be in the age of Facebook, where everyone is a potential friend yet still a stranger. To answer the question; you can make a movie about Facebook as long as the movie isn't about Facebook!

     For many, The Social Network was the film of 2010. That's not to dismiss The King's Speech which is a classically made drama with excellent performances. However, The Social Network is a razor sharp and surprisingly moving look at the Facebook world and a comment on our society that improves with every viewing. For those who haven't seen it, The Social Network tells the story of the creation of Facebook from its humble origins at Harvard University in 2003 to the explosion of Facebook as a social phenomenon. The tagline You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies is an apt reflection of the real subject of the film; the fallout of personal relationships from the runaway money-train that is Facebook. It is not a rags to riches story. The film is not about the exaltation that comes with triumph against adversity. It is not a feel good movie. Neither is it, as some imagined, a cruel dissection of Mark Zuckerberg. Of all the weighty critical analysis afforded to the film it was probably internet humour magazine Cracked that came closest to the point when their writer suggested that Mark Zuckerberg didn't become interesting enough to be Time magazine's Man of the Year in spite of The Social Network, he became interesting because of it!

     Much has been said about the veracity of the film. Zuckerberg himself is on record as saying that they only got his clothes right and the real Sean Parker told Vanity Fair that he met with Justin Timberlake in preparation for the film and told the singer/actor that he couldn't help him because the Sean Parker in the script bore no relation to the real person. Perhaps they simply didn't like what they were seeing or didn't like the way that they were to be portrayed. For my money the most likely comment that I read was from the CEO of Facebook who said that if they really wanted to make a movie about how Facebook was created they should have just filmed a bunch of guys sitting in a darkened room, hunched over computer screens eating pizza for four years. Hardly exciting cinema.

     Whether it is true or not the film tells an extraordinary tale. Sorkin and Fincher have chosen their "Rosebuds". The abiding idea created by the film is that Mark Zuckerberg is incredibly driven to both create and destroy, more motivated by personal slights than fame or fortune. The perceived slights are threefold. In the first case, his dumping by girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara), in the second by his jealousy of only friend Eduardo Severin (Andrew Garfield) for getting into an exclusive Harvard club and, thirdly, as a revenge against the privileged Winklevoss twins. Those who haven't seen the movie often say that the subject matter isn't interesting to them. Forget the idea of it being a film about nerds around computers; it is a rivetingly scripted, brilliantly acted movie about the value of friendship and the seductive power of success. Even those, like I, who have missed the Myspace, Facebook, Twitter attractions completely can find the creation story a marvel.

     Every year people say if only (insert unfortunate actor) hadn't been up against (insert successful actor) in the Oscars he would have won. Jesse Eisenberg's brilliant turn as Zuckerberg deserved an Oscar. He is a man who is both deeply divided and opaque, missing the human empathy gene. Garfield as his only friend is maturing into the "It Guy", with an excellent performance in this film and Never Let Me Go, and a stab at Spiderman in the reboot. Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker delivers his finest role. Accurate or not, his Parker is the devil barely in disguise, a man bent on success at all costs. He is not, as some believe, the bad guy in the movie. Would Facebook have been a mega success without his connections? I don't think so. Even the small roles are impeccably handled. Rooney Mara secured the much sought after role of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo reboot with her scenes as Erica Albright and it was a hoot to see Disney Channel queen Brenda Song servicing Eduardo in the toilets! Another special mention should go to Armie Hammer and Josh Pence as the Winklevoss twins. Unable to get real twins Fincher used the face technology from Benjamin Button to make Hammer as the only "face" of the twins. A bit sad for Pence but the effect is undetectable in the film.

     The plaudits really go to Fincher and Sorkin. Fincher is a director who is able to perfectly essay the remorseless dialogue of Sorkin. The script crackles with life and was a deserved Oscar winner. This mighty team worked close together to make the film and give it its inquiring intensity. It is a film that will still be just as relevant and powerful in 10 years whenever whatever comes next after Facebook will be controlling the World! Buy it now.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Social Network was filmed exclusively on the RED camera. David Fincher has used digital cameras before (the Viper) and with each film he has improved his working knowledge of the benefits and flaws of the process. He has worked with the creators to receive the latest and greatest improvements. In an interview he says he chose the RED One camera because it created images that looked like film without the "plasticky plastic look of some video". He shot Zodiac and Benjamin Button with the a High Definition digital camera and achieved some excellent images. However, The Social Network is the most visually stunning of the three and must surely win over any sceptic of the digital media. The film was composed for (according to IMDB) 2.35:1 cinematic aspect ratio. The Blu-ray release has a ratio closer to 2.40:1.

     Everything about the image quality of this Blu-ray is superb. The night scenes, commonly the most difficult to shoot using digital media, are crisp and beautiful to observe. This is not a film of extraordinary and varied colour. Much of it is shot in smoky pubs and dimly lit dorm rooms. The colour palette is therefore not a big feature of the film and yet at the same time the colours used are finely observed and conveyed.

     The Social Network has a film aesthetic despite being shot on digital. This is no doubt a reflection of the post-production work which has given various interesting hues to the scenes. The image quality is very crisp and clear. The flesh tones are accurate.

     There are subtitles in English, English for the Hearing-Impaired, Italian Spanish and German.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The Social Network carries a prime English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. There is also a DTS HD Master Audio track in Spanish and Italian and a 5.1 448Kb/s Catalan and Descriptive Audio track. From the moment the film begins, with the amazing breakup scene in The Thirsty Scholar, we know that we are in for an interesting sonic experience with the movie. With The White Stripes’ Ball and Biscuit dominating, we are lead directly into a conversation at a bar table. Seemingly casual, it becomes a crucial moment and really a template for the rest of the film. Mark Zuckerberg is ranting about Harvard and his long-suffering girlfriend is just trying to keep up. Accidental and intended slights pileup to the point where she realises she has had enough and, too late, Mark Zuckerberg learns that this, the break-up, is really happening. Aside from the fact that this scene took a brutal 99 takes to nail it is a perfect reflection of the sonic aesthetic of the film. The dialogue is difficult to hear amongst all the background noise.

     In the extras we are shown in painstaking detail how the scene was constructed and the determination of Fincher to make sure that the scene was difficult to hear. He wanted us as audience members to feel like we were near the table listening into this conversation straining to hear it and make sense of it. That aesthetic is also reflected in the nightclub scene. Therefore, to say that the dialogue is clear and easy to understand should more correctly be that the dialogue that David Fincher wants you to hear is clear.

     The DTS HD track does a marvellous job of creating the ambience of the film. The soundscape is always alive with background noise and ambience. It is an expansive and immersive track. The sub-woofer tends to support the bass of the soundtrack. There are no car crashes or explosions in this film. The sub-woofer does, however, come to prominence in a couple of key scenes, most notably the Henley Regatta and the Ruby-Skye nightclub scene. Intentionally, Fincher amps up the thumping bass during this scene which will on ordinary volume make your neighbours think that a nightclub has opened up next door!

     The Oscar winning score by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor is a true, subtle work of art. Rather than focusing on sweeping themes and orchestral moods this is a digital soundtrack created in the techno-labs of these two creative minds. It is an ambient track that some viewers may not even notice when caught up in the intelligence and drama of the film. That's not to say there aren't memorable moments. After being dumped at The Thirsty Scholar Zuckerberg pauses, dumbfounded, before walking back to his hotel dorm. The music of the pub fades and in its place is the piano theme, which signifies Zuckerberg, contrasting hard against an abrasive tonal undercurrent. It is a brilliant moment amongst many brilliant moments. Another is no doubt the use of Edvard Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt to accompany the Henley Regatta. In the extra features there are a couple of different drafts of the final music. The techno version of this piece is a wonderful cover version which not only pays homage to the original but helps drive the drama of the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The extras on this Blu-ray of The Social Network are voluminous. There are no less than two commentary tracks, one from the director and one from the screenwriter and select cast members on the disc containing the film. Then there is an entire Blu-ray of extras which include a feature length documentary on the making of the film as well as a number of other well made and interesting featurettes.

     This is a five-star extras presentation. Whilst the sheer amount of extra material is a godsend in itself it is not uncommon for the volume of extras to be in direct contrast to their quality. It is easy to fill out extras with an huge amount of studio puff and backslapping with lots of interviews with the cast and crew about how much they enjoyed working with each other. These extras are nothing of the sort. Instead each is carefully chosen and prepared with the viewer in mind. My pet hate, filling out extras with snippets from the film, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, heart-warmingly, all the moments from the film that are extracted in the extras are used with a distinct purpose. This might be to illustrate an editing technique or the effect of the score.

     To my mind the fact that this film can be found at a sub $30 price point at some retailers makes it an essential purchase for fans, even those ones who were rooting for The King’s Speech at the Oscars. The first Blu-ray contains the film and the commentary tracks.

Audio Commentary with David Fincher

     Fincher is a powerful presence in real life, a man who takes his work extremely seriously and is relentless in the pursuit of his goals. That is reflected in the preparation for his films and the number of takes he likes to ensure that things are just right. This commentary track is, like Fincher, densely packed and full of life. He takes us through the production and analyses various scenes in detail, even pointing out a couple of things that could have been done better. A true perfectionist. Anyone who really liked the movie will love this commentary.

Audio commentary with Writer Aaron Sorkin and cast

     This is a more relaxed commentary track. Sorkin is an engaging speaker and the track blends in other performers including Eisenberg, Garfield, Timberlake, Hammer and Josh Pence. They are not all together in the one room so no one really dominates. It is an entertaining track for those who want to know a bit more about the movie without the Fincher detail.

     Both commentary tracks are subtitled in Italian and Spanish.

Disc 2

     The second Blu-ray contains a pile of fascinating extras, all in 1080P. The extras are subtitled in the United Nations of tracks : English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Thai.

How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Facebook?: a feature-length documentary in four parts (1:32:43)

     As stated this is a four-part documentary. It contains separately viewable sections titled :Commencement, Boston, Los Angeles, and The Lot. These sections roughly correspond with the development and production process of the film. This is a superbly made feature that takes us as close as we could ever get to the core of the filmmaking process. There is one aspect that seems unusual. On this film the scriptwriter, Aaron Sorkin, exerted a powerful influence on the film, even getting to wrap the film when Fincher let him do a 1 second insert. Sorkin is seen throughout, sometimes just as the sounding board for the dominant Fincher.

     In a feature as long as this it is not unusual to hear a lot of praise for the team. Surprisingly, there is little in this film. The actors clearly liked working on the film with each other but it is hard not to detect that working with Fincher is a challenge as much as a joy. He likes lots of takes and the use of the RED camera allowed him to just keep shooting. Actors like Eisenberg express their quiet frustration at the difficulty of knowing how to please the director through the multitude of takes. The fear is that it makes it hard to develop a consistent character when the film could just as well be assembled in the editing room. Plus Fincher likes to act out the part when showing the performers how he wants to see it played. Everyone gets a look in during the feature. It is also worth mentioning that the 1080p image quality on this feature is stunning.

David Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth on the Visuals (7:48)

     This short but enlightening feature takes us deep into the cinematographic process. Fincher outlines the difficulties he had with filming at Harvard University. He describes their assistance as "sandbagged and atrocious". This led to the first problem of determining how to light the film when Harvard, being a very old university, is entirely old and dark. However, an advantage of using the RED camera was that it could make best use of minimal and natural lighting. Interestingly, Cronenweth identified the exceptional depth of field of the RED camera as something of a challenge where, for aesthetic reasons, the director wished to use variable focus. Lenses were used to achieve the required effect. A fascinating short feature.

Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter and Ren Klyce on Post (17:20)

     This long feature exemplifies what is so good about the extra materials supplied with the second Blu-ray of The Social Network. Each of the two film editors and Klyce, the sound designer, are given ample opportunity to explain the post-production work on the film. Moreover, this is done in an intelligent way with no padding. Of greatest interest and challenge to Klyce were two sequences in the film, the opening and the nightclub scene. The sound designer speaks with some mixture of pride and concern about the complexity of creating those scenes. Director Fincher explained that he wanted both scenes to be filled with natural sound and ambience to the extent that viewers would experience some problem in hearing the dialogue. The technically detailed and exhausting steps taken to create the desired effect are a testament to the skill of the sound designer.

     So far as the film editing was concerned it hard not to sympathise with the editing team, working with dailies from the RED camera, which could shoot enormous amounts of material. The editors speak of the challenge of intercutting and creating a finished film from some 268 hours of raw material. Interestingly, the rough cut of the film was actually shorter than the final film.

     This featurette uses clear examples from the film of the multiple of shots available for editing into the finished product. One final titbit: the sound designer speaks of creating a number of great dialogue moments from the film using tiny selections from multiple readings of the lines.

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and David Fincher on the Score (18:55)

     Composers Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor won the Golden Globe and Academy Award for best score. It was an interesting choice as the other nominees featured some soaring themes whereas the soundtrack for The Social Network was a triumph of ambience. In this lengthy feature the composers take us through the process of producing the score and, once again, this is an enlightening documentary featurette.

In the Hall of the Mountain King: Reznor's First Draft

     One of the highlights of the film is the Henley Regatta scene accompanied by an updated and thrilling version of Edvard Greig's In the Hall of the Mountain King. This interesting feature allows us to examine four different versions of that scene. The first two are with the music and full mix featuring a first draft of the piece. Then we can sample the final music and full mix. The second version is definitely better.

Swarmatron (4:28)

     Composer Trent Reznor is on hand to demonstrate the unique musical instrument/computer known as the Swarmatron. It is arguable that the device is more of a toy that makes interesting noises but nevertheless the sound gives a real ambient lift to some of the scenes in the film.

Ruby Skye VIP Room: Multi-Angle Scene Breakdown

     This is another high-quality feature. Running for just under 20 minutes it comprises four separate short features on the nightclub scene. Each is fascinating. We start with the rehearsal featuring just the actors. Then the interiors segment shows the director and crew working with the extras and also the environment to set up the scene. Interviews follow with the editor speaking about the process of creating an exciting scene from the complex requirements of director Fincher. Finally, the principal photography segment shows the scene actually being filmed. It is fascinating to watch how a scene like this is constructed. After dancing their hearts out to the techno music the extras have to put in a high-quality performance dancing to complete silence as the music stops and the director films the actors for a vocal cut.

     Could there be any more features on this set? Well, perhaps the only omission is interviews and information about the real characters. I suspect, however, that they may not have been too keen to assist.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This Blu-ray is the same as the Region A release. Buy the local product and support a distributor who has ensured we get the best product available.

Summary

     The Social Network is an important film not just because it captures the zeitgeist but also because it brings together two of the most interesting creative types - Fincher and Sorkin - and the result is intellectual magic. The film looks beautiful on Blu-ray and sounds good too. The extras provide a constant companion for years to come.

     If you don't already have this in your collection, you need to hurry to the shop to get it!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Sad about the trailer's omission - Matthew REPLY POSTED
Extras censored like the UK release? - Anonymous