Erasing David

We are movie geeks

Thanks to WAMG for this review of the film:

12th March 2010

By Travis

Right now, this very moment, do you feel like you’re having a “private” moment? If you’re on the Internet, a cell phone or even walking down a public street… then, don’t count on it. In fact, award-winning filmmaker David Bond literally goes out of his way to show just how unlikely it is to have a truly private life in the documentary ERASING DAVID.

After receiving a notice in the mail from a major corporation, apologizing for a breach of private digital information, David Bond decided he would try and disappear for 30 days. He became fascinated with the idea that every detail of his life was being tracked, recorded and stored in databases.

David’s plan was not to erase himself from the system, but rather to escape the system and see if the system could find him. He challenged a pair of successful UK private investigators to track him down, using any and all legal means to track his whereabouts. Meanwhile, his wife is seven months pregnant and proves to be the overly trusting, shall I say slightly naïve opposite of David’s increasingly concerned and suspicious character.

At first, David’s fascination is an intellectual curiosity, but his ambiguous approach quickly spirals into a state of self-induced paranoia and fear. David moves from one place to another, in and out of the UK as he meets with various experts on privacy in the modern world.

Co-directed by David Bond and Melinda McDougall, ERASING DAVID uses David’s first-person experience (a la filmmakers like Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore) to unravel the surprising truth about how vulnerable our information is to the world. Combined with expert meetings on the nature of privacy and how to maintain it and a few traditional interviews spliced in from other experts on the subject matter, be prepared for a beginner’s course in how the government and private corporations keep tabs on public citizens.

Amongst the most shocking bits of information gleaned from ERASING DAVID is that the UK has some 5 million closed caption cameras watching and recording the public’s every move and that the UK is the nation with the third most surveillance in the world, right behind China and Russia. The relatively frightening facts presented add their own sense of uneasiness, but the film is enhanced in this respect by composer Michael Nyman’s (RAVENOUS) original score, which is almost enough reason on its own to see this film.

ERASING DAVID is more than just a documentary, documenting David’s experiment and informing the public of the very public nature of their private lives, it is also an entertaining narrative. David Bond attempts to maintain a loose, casual personality at first before slowly drifting into the more paranoid side of himself that has him hiding in more rural regions.

There is occasionally a quirky, playful element to Bond’s film. In particular, David spends some time in a rural region and this scene has an odd feel of Jason Bourne spy conspiracy meets the lurking unknown sensation of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. The scene is meant to evoke a sense of fear and the point gets across, but ultimately comes across in a humorous tongue-in-cheek fashion.

The film is in black and white, but bits of color occasionally bleed through, which suggests the film was converted for effect. It’s an interesting, moody touch, giving the film a bit of the film noir, gritty private detective atmosphere.

For the same reason SUPER SIZE ME and BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE received flack from some critics, similar questions regarding the “authenticity” and “spontaneity” of ERASING DAVID occasionally surface. This doesn’t really pull away from the effectiveness much, as this element sort of comes with the territory when making this type of documentary film. ERASING DAVID is still a fresh, engaging and relevant work.

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