The Social Network
by Katherine Jamie Kon
The Social Network is an amazing film, created by a very talented director, David Fincher. This movie has many academy award nominations, and it won three Oscars in best writing, best film editing, and best achievement in music written for motion pictures. The Social Network is based on a true story of Mark Zuckerberg’s journey to creating Facebook, and it stumbled upon a wide range of themes involving pride, friendship, jealousy, success, and revenge. My view on Mark Zuckerberg completely changed after watching this movie, and it is incredible that despite the fact that there were fictional elements, it is still based on a true story. I have heard many great opinions about this movie from the internet as well as friends and family who, for the most part, found the movie entertaining. I finally had the chance to watch this movie, I was impressed with the overall story of the film as well as the acting and scenery. I thought the movie was well made because it had a fast pace, in keeping with the characters’ personalities. I would like to focus on a couple of scenes, as well as certain film cuts and sounds that amplify the movie’s storyline and atmosphere.
I was hooked by the movie's opening scene, showing the audience the characteristics of the main character. The scene starts with a two shot of the main character, Mark played by Jesse Elisenberg, in the middle of the conversation with his date, Erica played by Rooney Mara. This two shot is important in the beginning, as it sets the mood on what the audience is going to experience. In this two shot, you see that these two characters are at a bar. While Mark is starting the conversation, there is background noise of other people talking. This choice of editing places an emphasis for the audience to be immersed in the scene, feeling as though the viewer is in the same room. This establishing shot still goes on when Mark is talking about SAT scores and finals clubs.
The audience will see the first cut of the movie, showing an over the shoulder shot of Erica’s reaction to Mark talking. This can count for a reverse shot as well, where the camera does a fast cut to Erica's face before Mark finishes his line. Erica's reaction is important because it shows how uninterested she is in the conversation, and most of those cuts are similar throughout this scene. This goes for the reverse shots on Mark as well. When Erica starts speaking about something that does not benefit Mark, his reaction also has an uninterested expression. When the scene gets intense, there are many fast cuts and a variety of over the shoulder, medium shots, and close ups focused on just the character's expression. I noticed within the medium close up when Mark starts to speak more, we see that when Erica starts to converse, she is cut off, ultimately seeing less of Erica. This editing choice shows who has more control in the conversation, in this case it is Mark. This fast pace edit starts to slow down when Erica officially reaches her breaking point and breaks up with Mark. I loved her close up at the end, when her last words to Mark was, “It’ll be because you’re an asshole.”
That moment defined the end of this scene and the beginning of the whole movie. You can see the hurt that Erica has gone through in that close up when she says that line. When she leaves the table, it cuts to the two shot, but it seems more tighter than the two shot we saw in the beginning of the movie. It just shows Mark sitting alone at the table, but he is closer to the edge of the frame. Instead of using the two shot from the beginning of the scene, I believe that they used a different two shot at the end of this scene, to show that the characters are going to grow apart due to their intense conversation. This opening scene was definitely well edited and starts the tone on how it will be edited throughout the whole movie. After analyzing this scene, I rewatched the whole movie, as there were a lot of fast cuts between the characters conversing with each other. The cuts in the movie are mostly edited at the beginning and at the ending of someone delivering a line. There are more unique cuts, specifically in certain intercuts of dialogue that become significant throughout the movie.
The most prominent edit in this whole film are the intercuts of the two legal depositions that Mark is facing between his best friend, Eduardo, the CFO of Facebook, who is suing Mark because he was fired from the company. The Winkelevoss twins who are also suing, claim that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for a social networking site. These depositions were taken at different times and locations. At first, I was confused between the cuts because I did not know
that Mark was being sued by two different people. As I got further into the movie, I caught on that the scenes of Mark at Harvard were flashbacks from the past; and the way they edited it to display a continuous conversation between the people in Mark’s past in college to the people in those two boardrooms was so clever. Each of the characters start their dialogue in the boardroom but finish their sentence in a flashback scene, and this works both ways.
An example of an intercut between the two different conversations and locations, as well as when the characters are talking about the same topic, is when Eduardo finds a letter in Mark’s room that explains how Mark will be facing legal action towards the Winkelevoss twins, as the twins claim Mark has committed intellectual property theft by stealing their idea for a social networking site. When Mark and Eduardo are talking about this letter, Mark is telling Eduardo that he was required to write the twins back about the situation. After Mark tells Eduardo what he has done, it then cuts to the Winkelevoss twins’ lawyer, who was starting to read the letter Mark wrote to them in the past. While the lawyer is reading the letter, it cuts to Eduardo finishing the lawyer’s sentence, as he is reading the same letter with Mark in the flashback. The twin’s lawyer and Eduardo read the same letter, but showing the audience a different time period that it was read. I love how this is edited throughout the movie, where you see the boardroom and then the flashback of characters talking about the same topic. It shows the audience an exact visual and referring to moments that the lawyers and characters in the boardroom are talking about.
The music in this film is phenomenal because the background music of each scene brings more depth in the movie. There is a dark ambient tone throughout but it also shows a lighter style of music in certain scenes. The lighter tone of music is represented by the soft sounds of the piano keys. An example of when the lighter tone of music plays is at the beginning of the movie when Mark and Erica break up. The piano keys start to play as he is feeling emotions of hurt and pain because his girlfriend just broke up with him. Another scene where the lighter tone plays is
when the lawyer is reading the letter that Mark wrote to the Winkelevoss twins, raising concerns about the social networking site that he was originally supposed to work on with them.
When the lighter tone of music starts to play, I notice it happens toward moments where Mark is feeling a sense of emotion and empathy in certain situations. When the music starts to get a little more dark is during intense scenes, a lot more often in the two boardrooms. One intense situation involving the dark ambient music that stood out to me is when the Winkelevoss twins’ lawyer starts speaking to Mark, and Mark starts to get distracted by the rain. The lawyer then asks if Mark thinks that he deserves Mark’s full attention and Mark goes on a dialogue, telling everyone in the boardroom that he doesn't deserve it. In that moment, the dark music plays, intensifying the scene and showing the audience that Mark is not one to mess with, as the music corresponds to his ambitious expression.
The Social Network is truly a masterpiece, with great editing. It is worth watching as there is so much going on and the plot visually flows perfectly on the screen. David Fincher made such a well-crafted film, specifically editing scenes to show a continuous flow of conversations during different scenes and time periods between the characters. This movie is definitely one of my favorite movies.