News / Arts & Entertainment

'The Social Network' Traces the Creation - on a Whim - of Facebook

Andrew Garfield, left, and Jesse Eisenberg stars as 'Mark Zuckerberg' in Columbia Pictures'
Andrew Garfield, left, and Jesse Eisenberg stars as 'Mark Zuckerberg' in Columbia Pictures' "The Social Network"
Penelope Poulou

"The Social Network" is the latest brainchild of acclaimed filmmaker David Fincher and the masterful screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. It's an in-depth study of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg presented in the movie as a visionary who is unable to emotionally connect with others. And it's of interest because Facebook now has 500 million members and Zuckerberg, in real life, is one of the youngest media magnates.

Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg - played in the movie by Jesse Eisenberg - was not after money when he was creating Facebook.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin says, "It seems to me there are two motivations. He wants to get invited to the cool kids' table. The other motivation:  He had a creative vision."

Another reason, the movie insinuates, was revenge. While at Harvard, Mark was spurned by his girlfriend. He wanted to get back at her.

The film portrays Zuckerberg as someone who understands numbers better than people.

The film also questions Zuckerberg's ethics. In real life, he was sued for allegedly stealing the idea for Facebook from other Harvard students and for pushing out his best friend and co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

The suits were settled out of court.

Actor Jesse Eisenberg interprets Zuckerberg as defiant. But he also humanizes the character by portraying him as excessively dedicated to his vision. "In the movie, his roomate Eduardo Saverin, who gives him 20,000 dollars to start the company, wants to take the company in a different direction, and I think Mark prioritizes Facebook above that personal relationship," he says.

Today, 500 million people the world over are connected to Facebook. So, it comes as no surprise that the film topped the box office when it first came out. On the day of the premiere, moviegoers weighed in about Facebook's founder and Facebook itself.

"I'm sorry for the young people because with these morals we're not going to have a world that's worth living," said one woman.

"It gave you a good look of what big businesses are like," said a man who saw the movie.

The movie's debut coincided with the suicide of college student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington bridge in New York City after his sexual encounter with a male friend was taped and streamed live on the Internet. Clementi had announced his impending suicide on his Facebook page.

This tragedy should not detract from the artfulness of "The Social Network." This is an Oscar-worthy film about the human condition with a stellar cast and crisp dialogue. It chronicles the journey of a genius from relative obscurity to dizzying success.

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