By Clea Kim
Originally published on Advocate.com February 05 2013 5:00 AM ET
Director Tiffany Shlain’s documentary, Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology, explains what it means to be connected in the 21st century. She explores connectivity among humans, moving back in time to explain how everything from the invention of the alphabet to the development of technology has contributed to how connected today's world has become. But the film's most moving narrative is the director's commemoration of her father, Leonard Shlain, a surgeon and best-selling author who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer while she was in the process of making Connected.
Shlain puts herself in the center of the film, describing how technology consumes everyone's life, including her own. She introduces her theory of human connection, focusing on how tiny details, such as the disappearance of honeybees, can affect the entire world. Shlain links one change to another, going back 14 billion years and forward to the present to offer a history of how various connections and new discoveries shaped the world of today.
Shlain acquaints the audience with her father — who he is, what he does, his many accomplishments, and especially how much influence he had on his daughter. Shlain opens up about her father’s brain cancer and the fact that she is going through a tough pregnancy, concerned because of her five previous miscarriages. As her father’s condition worsens, she decides to document his final thoughts and opinions, which becomes the heart of her film.
The film, which set out to focus on human connection through technology, switched its focus to Shlain’s father and his life, lessons, and ideas. But Shlain still finds a way to incorporate everything together. The film is well-crafted and features fun animations filled with pictures, timelines, charts, and statistics, interspersed with archival images including Shlain’s home videos. The film is emotional but also informative and fascinating. Connected offers viewers a chance to see and connect to Shlain’s collection of thoughts on life and death, love and family, technology and the world, and the connection between it all.
Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology is available today on iTunes and all digital platforms.