It has been about three years to the time many may have looked forward to the 20s of the 21st century. Having heard tales of the roaring 20s, this would not have been a weird thing to be expectant about. However, the 20s hit differently as a global pandemic brought the world to a standstill. All walks of life, including cinema, were affected. As the movies draw inspiration from real life, it was obvious that films set around or during the pandemic would grace our screens. Audiences have seen this in the recently released Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, where the characters were masked initially. However, the who’s who of the tech world is seemingly immune to the virus. Right? At least, that’s what stood out for me when the characters first popped up on screen in Graham Jones’ Silicon Docks.
This animated film should definitely have had a disclaimer about the lack of masks. I get why the makers opted against it, as it may have been tedious to identify the tech moguls with half their faces obscured. This was something that came to light later, on something created by these individuals. Objects created for the masses will be used against the creator if needed. Right? They played the Gods but faced the problems everyone else endured during the first wave.
As the world shut down, people may have seen them as unaffected as their applications became the most in-demand to retain some form of communication. Remember how the unnatural modes of communication and content consumption became natural? Graham Jones ensured the moguls and the ones behind the fourth wall were reminded of this. He wrote in scenes where audiences saw them face the real-life difficulties of not having anywhere to hang out on their pub crawl.
On September 9, 2020, a group of the biggest individuals, including Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Elon Musk, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Google’s Sergey Brin, and Larry Page, and more, convened in the Silicon Docks locality of Dublin where they discussed why signing a voluntary guidelines pact would be good or bad.
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This sharp, dialogue-heavy offering would behoove audiences to be abreast with the news surrounding each of these players. Not knowing about it will also be fine (if you are watching it for the sake of it), but there is an added value for the informed. Do take notes while watching, as researching this later will help you appreciate Graham Jones’ film even more.
At one point, I chuckled as Zuckerberg was reminded of why Facebook existed. Audiences who have seen The Social Network could understand this easily. Jones also threw subtle references to the US elections with hints that these powerful individuals control the narrative and the polls. Was it really fair and square?
We never will know, and it wasn’t Jones’ intention to give Silicon Docks’ audience an answer. He just wanted us to think. Haven’t we already thought of this before? Well, if yes, it’s a recap; if not, maybe you have received some food for thought.
The dialogues feature witty exchanges between the ‘friends,’ who also portray themselves as sharks trying to one-up the other. Silicon Docks sees an important question asked regarding an oft-mentioned thing that the tech moguls do. Why would they be philanthropic at the cost of taxes? We all know it is because of the laws, but a coin has two sides, and Graham Jones allows a character in his film to exhibit that with a response. The reply portrays him as a great giver and the masses as ungrateful. Everyone does try to put themselves as the hero in their own story. Such a presentation only shows that, in the end, even the most powerful people in the world are humans.
Silicon Docks, for lack of a better term, literally feels like moving paintings. Animator Kasia Wisniewska brought Diep Hong’s production design and Sonia Egan’s background to life. It felt like a painting had come to life in a type of animation completely different from the norm in film genres. The manner in which the characters appeared on screen only enhanced this film’s position as a satire.
With relevant references, pleasing animation, and a crisp run time, this film is perfect for the informed cinephile who has been conditioned to consume content that doesn’t have vast runtimes. Silicon Docks is a satirical and eye-opening effort. For the ones that don’t get the references, you could relive the days of the first wave when lockdowns and masks were the reality FOR EVERYONE.