Werner Herzog's Lo and Behold, Now a Special Edition Blu-Ray In the UK

So one of Werner Herzog's latest documentaries (Netflix has put out his volcano movie at almost the exact same time), Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, has only been available as an almost barebones DVD for the last three weeks here in the United States.  That's better than nothing (I'm looking at you, volcano Netflix movie), but still pretty underwhelming.  Fortunately, things are much better in the UK, thanks to a neat little label on the rise known as Dogwoof.  Just this week, they've given us a nice, special edition blu-ray!

Update 7/12/18: I've added the US DVD edition for comparison.
Now, a documentary about the internet probably doesn't sound too thrilling, but Herzog's name should be a clear signal to any cinephile to expect something different.  The film's subtitle tells us all we need to know.  This isn't a long, academic recount of the web's history or predictions for its future, although we get some of both.  This is a collection of reveries about the internet; a loose series of documentary vignettes, some interconnected more than others, about our new, connected world.  Sure, we get our scientists and professors talking to us about the first internet message sent all the way back in the late 60s and how the technology is advancing.  We see self-driving cars and burgeoning robotics striving to develop artificial intelligence.
We basically explore what the internet is to everyone.  That means everything from scientists working out how to settle colonies on the moon to a commune of people living "off the grid" to avoid cellphone induced illness, looking very much like the non-fiction version of Todd Haynes' Safe.  We visit the family of the infamous Porsche Girl (if you're not already familiar, do yourself a favor and don't google it) who've been so cruelly tormented online that they explain their very earnest theory that, "I have always believed that the internet is a manifestation of the anti-Christ, of evil itself.  It is the spirit of evil.  And I feel like it's running through everybody on Earth, and it's claiming its victories in those people that are also evil."  But then it's back to amusing images of monks Tweeting and little robots training for The Robocup (go ahead and google it).  We meet internet addicts, hackers, cyber security agents and online universities.  And just about every scientist we meet is forced to struggle with Herzog's question, "could it be that the internet dreams of itself?"
2016 US Magnolia DVD on top; 2016 UK Dogwoof blu-ray bottom.
Unsurprisingly, we're looking at virtually identical transfers, clearly struck from the same master, except the Magnolia DVD is compressed to standard definition.  The blu looks predictably great, and very detailed.  Both releases are framed identically to full widescreen at 1.78:1.  This is a brand new digital film delivering its DCP straight to the label, so there's not much for Magnolia or Dogwoof to get wrong short of trying to screw with and alter the presentation, which thankfully they seem not to have done.  There's a softness to the DVD that's naturally crisp on the blu.  You'll appreciate it on a really large TV.

The original English 5.1 audio mix is presented in Dolby Digital on the DVD and proper lossless DTS-HD on the blu, which also has a second audio descriptive track for the visually impaired.  The blu has the advantage in subtitles, too, in that it has them in English, while the US DVD only has Spanish sub.
All reports of this blu pointed to it being a barebones disc right up to its release.  So you can imagine what a nice surprise it was to see an "OVER 2 HOURS OF SPECIAL FEATURES" sticker on the cover when my copy arrived.  And speaking of barebones discs, I called the US DVD "almost barebones" earlier, but to be fair, it does have one, quite respectable special feature: a roughly 20-minute on-camera interview with Werner Herzog, where he answers a lot of the fundamental questions that will arise when viewing this film, as well as a few cute questions about his relationship to the internet.  It's definitely a nice addition.

And yes, they've ported that over to their release as the + in their 2+ hours of special features.  The rest is made up of two very long Herzog interviews/ Q&As.  The first is from a screening of Lo and Behold, where he gets more in depth about the film, taking questions from the interviewer, the audience and Twitter.  Then the next is a similar on-stage interview, but this time acting as a retrospective of his career, going into his past work like Aguirre, Little Dieter Needs To Fly and Grizzly Man.  He only gets into Lo and Behold a little bit at the end when he takes questions from the audience, but that's fine, because that's been pretty thoroughly covered into the other two interviews.  Dogwoof's blu also includes the theatrical trailer and a small booklet with notes about the production.
People looking for a generic, instructional look at the internet may be put off by this collection of reveries, but Herzog fans will be delighted by yet another of his terrific documentaries.  And there's no question the Dogwoof release is the one to own, as it's the only HD version and has substantially more special features to boot.  And if this does well, make me we can compel Dogwoof to acquire the home video rights for Into the Inferno next.

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