Fincher calls it down the middle

Posted by · 8:18 am · January 13th, 2011

Of course, no shock that the clearest vision and interpretation of the film comes from the guy responsible for it:

I hate the awards part of the moviemaking process…And besides, on Social Network, I didn’t really agree with the critics’ praise. It interested me that Social Network was about friendships that dissolved through this thing that promised friendships, but I didn’t think we were ripping the lid off anything. The movie is true to a time and a kind of person, but I was never trying to turn a mirror on a generation…Let’s hope we strove to get at something interesting, but Social Network is not earth-shattering.

From the director’s interview with W Magazine.

[Photo: Columbia Pictures]

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29 responses so far

  • 1 1-13-2011 at 8:41 am

    JJ1 said...

    I suppose he’s completely humbled (or maybe even a little embarrassed) by the praise. I love the film, but don’t think it’s anything earth-shattering, either. I think his comment is a combination of genuione humility, but also lowering expectations. Fascinating comment, nevertheless.

  • 2 1-13-2011 at 8:53 am

    Kevin K. said...

    Completely agree with him. And that’s coming from someone who put the film as my #1 this year.

  • 3 1-13-2011 at 8:59 am

    James D. said...

    I agree with him. As good a film as it is, too many people have been putting these absurd ideas of their own onto the film.

    With that said, I will believe he hates awards if he does not show up to receive them.

  • 4 1-13-2011 at 9:26 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    Watching the Blu-ray last night, that conversation between Kris and Anne on Oscar Talk in which they were arguing whether the film was truly about “us” was racing through my head.

    My conclusion is that the film is more about Zuckerberg and who he is and what makes him tick than it is about, as Fincher says, “turning a mirror on a generation”. So I actually agree with him here (and Kris in the long run). In the end, “The Social Network” is actually kind of modest in that way…

  • 5 1-13-2011 at 9:29 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    Oh, and his (Fincher’s) commentary is pretty great, too. I was expecting it to be rather dry and thin, but it’s pretty captivating – especially the stuff about the opening credits sequence, in particular the music choice there.

  • 6 1-13-2011 at 9:41 am

    Silencio said...

    Thank you, Mr. Fincher. Thank you.

  • 7 1-13-2011 at 9:53 am

    Glanton said...

    *As good a film as it is, too many people have been putting these absurd ideas of their own onto the film.*

    This is ridiculous logic and shame on everyone who has been ridiculing people for trying to analyze the film. Are people not allowed to analyze a film and interpret it the way they please? David Lynch says that no one has ever interpreted Eraserhead as he interprets it, but that doesn’t mean that only his interpretation is correct and that no one should bother looking beyond the surface. Many themes and much of the underlying subtext that is interpreted in films was never intended by the director, but rather occurred organically throughout the filmmaking process without conscious knowledge from the filmmakers.

  • 8 1-13-2011 at 10:01 am

    red_wine said...

    Some films are innately great films, and some films have greatness thrust upon them. Social Network is one of the latter.

  • 9 1-13-2011 at 10:03 am

    ibbs said...

    Bob Dylan says the same thing. Encapsulating the voice of a generation isn’t really something one does on purpose.

  • 10 1-13-2011 at 10:10 am

    Alex in Movieland said...

    love him more for this. cool.

  • 11 1-13-2011 at 10:13 am

    Mike_M said...

    Fincher always does great commentary track…

  • 12 1-13-2011 at 10:40 am

    Pope said...

    What #8 said.

  • 13 1-13-2011 at 11:35 am

    the other mike said...

    sounds honest, cause that film is no worldbeater despite the hype. Saw Black Swan recently, and that alone is on another level.

  • 14 1-13-2011 at 11:59 am

    Pete said...

    Totally agree with Fincher here. Social Network was a good movie. But that’s it. It’s nothing more. It should NOT be the Awards frontrunner. Not at all. Inception should be – simply because of the magnificence and originality that that film brought to the table. I think the thing that Nolan has working against him (especially among critics) is that most people know a hell of a lot about his movie before watching it; so when they watch it the experience is not that fresh. When in reality, what Nolan is putting on screen is absolutely original and beautiful to watch. Hopefully, the Academy will give the man some recognition. If there’s one man who put everything into a movie this year, it’s Nolan. Hands down. Nobody comes close. Take a look at the Inception extras on blu-ray and tell me there’s a director better than him this year. You can’t do it .

  • 15 1-13-2011 at 12:23 pm

    Andrew M said...

    With The Social Network being my favorite movie of the year, I totally agree with Fincher. It’s not earth shattering, and I defiantly don’t think it defines a generation. And I don’t think it ever tried to do these things, it was just trying to tell its story.
    This doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t a great movie. I think it is one of the best directed and scripted movies of the last decade, some of the finest acting of the year, and it has interesting story. Thats what makes it a great movie to me.

  • 16 1-13-2011 at 12:39 pm

    Speaking English said...

    When you’re an artist, this is what you DON’T do.

  • 17 1-13-2011 at 12:47 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Why not? Who says you have to be coy and mysterious about what you’ve created?

  • 18 1-13-2011 at 12:50 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I just think it’s totally self-defeating to go out there and say something like this, to deny interpretation of a multifaceted artwork and shut down the conversation like that. It’s akin to telling me I’m wrong about thinking of his film a certain way, and not only is it offensive to his viewers, but it does a great disservice to what he created.

  • 19 1-13-2011 at 12:56 pm

    Mike S said...

    Many artists are self-deprecating about their work. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s embarassed by the praise. He probably thinks his work was equal in Zodiac and Fight Club and doesn’t understand why people took to this movie more than those movies. That being said, I’ve seen The Social Network four times now and I truly believe that it is a great film and will go down as a classic and a masterpiece. Not for being a “zeitgeist film” but because it is flawless in telling a classic story of friendship and betrayal in an entertaining, modern way . I think it’s the best American film since There Will be Blood.

  • 20 1-13-2011 at 12:58 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    He’s not “shutting down” the conversation, he’s disagreeing with the turn the conversation has taken — without declaring it “wrong.” Any good artist knows that once their work is out in the world, it will take on different identities to different audiences, but that doesn’t mean they can’t engage with those interpretations.

  • 21 1-13-2011 at 1:00 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    English: When you boil it down, he’s really just offering his interpretation of his film. You’d deny him that solely because you want to feel the way you want to feel about it? I mean, no one is stopping free interpretation of a film’s meaning.

    Basically, what Guy said.

  • 22 1-13-2011 at 1:01 pm

    Speaking English said...

    That’s fine to engage with it, I just get rubbed the wrong way when an artist – after the acclaim – starts to diminish their own work. Just be happy you even HAVE the praise.

  • 23 1-13-2011 at 1:24 pm

    Casey Fiore said...

    I don’t necessarily think Fincher is denying interpretation of his work. He’s simply saying that he did not intend to make a statement about a generation as many have said he did. It’s certainly his right to have opinions about his own work and when you spend as much time and effort on something as he does with his films I doubt that others’ perceptions of it inform his own much. He feels about it the way he feels about it.

    I think assuming that the artist’s intentions or opinions of his own work define the work’s meaning is a mistake. In response to the discussions of symbolism in The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway said something to the effect of “No good book has ever been written that has in it symbols arrived at beforehand and stuck in. I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea and a real fish and real sharks. But if I made them good and true they would mean many things. ”

    Perhaps Fincher did not mean to say anything profound about a generation and did not have earth-shattering intentions, but, in my opinion at least, the skill with which he speaks the truth about a period of time and a person who may potentially be the most influential person of his generation, has, in fact, made a more profound statement on the state of my generation and the future of our social lives than anyone else could.

  • 24 1-13-2011 at 2:05 pm

    AJ said...

    This is nothing new. Fincher, Sorkin, and even the actors continuously have said this movie did not start off with the intent to say anything about the internet age or this generation. Sorkin wanted to revisit old story telling. Fincher was solely interested in Zuckerberg. But I don’t think any movie sets off trying to be the zeitgeist movie. Those interpretations always come from outside forces.

    Anyway, read the full article and it’s quite clear why Fincher feels that way. Like Scott Rudin says, he’s an anarchist and overbearing praise goes against his nature. And it’s funny him saying TSN is not as important because nobody dies in it but it’s obvious Zodiac is his special project and nothing can compare to it in his mind.

  • 25 1-13-2011 at 2:17 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Yeah, whatever. I guess I’ll just equate this to the Coens saying their films don’t have any meaning.


  • 26 1-13-2011 at 2:39 pm

    daveylow said...

    I liked The Social Network a lot but I’m quite a bit older than the characters in the film I could not relate to it as “a film of my generation.”

    And it’s not one of those films I’ll watch again and again, mainly because some of the characters are so irritating.

    I do admire Fincher’s Zodiac more. It was his first film that made me see why he had these fanboys.

  • 27 1-13-2011 at 3:50 pm

    ninja said...

    I love this guy! He`s 100% right. This movie is nothing earth shattering and considering he should`ve won for earth shattering stuff like Se7en, Fight Club and Zodiac (all three standing the test of time remarkably well), sounds like he feels this would be make-up win or something. Like, I`m going to win for THIS? Huh?

    Anyway, I`m rooting for him to make an awesome GWTDT remake. Swedish movie was so by the numbers but Fincher is changing stuff (yay!) and Mara looks spot on Salander, even more so than Rapace.

  • 28 1-13-2011 at 6:45 pm

    Otto said...

    The guys over at Awards Daily should read the statement.

  • 29 1-13-2011 at 8:32 pm

    André said...

    I think it´s very difficult to be totally objective about one´s own artistic output. hell, I find it difficult do be like that about my crappy college films! Fincher seems to be a guy who gets uncomfortable when praised, even when he deserves it.

    I agree to disagree with him… even though he doesn´t seem to think so, I think his latest is a masterpiece – his second, IMO, after Se7en (sorry, I did something to my laptop and lost the command to quotation marks).