Internet Story

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An engrossing, fast-paced Short that claims to tell a true story (which should be treated with the same scepticism as Fargo’s ‘based on a true story’ disclaimer), Internet Story is about a young man calling himself ‘Al1’ who buries nine-thousand pounds somewhere in the UK, and a video-blogger who obsessively hunts the treasure, pursuing Al1’s clues and riddles across the country.

The film is narrated (by Shaun French, wonderfully droll) almost as if it were a fable or morality tale, yet feels very modern in both form and subject matter; the story is told through fragments of internet videos, flash animations, blogs and news articles, and is about the anonymous, lonely people who occupy the strange corners of the internet, a churning sea of voices talking but not connecting.

Soon after its release, the film became a viral hit, and some viewers began investigating the story as if it were real. I didn’t buy it, mainly because the story seemed too good to be true, like a particularly beguiling urban legend, but also because the voice acting of Duncan Wigman as the treasure-seeker seemed unnatural and affected. And indeed, further investigation confirms it is a work of fiction (you can actually visit Al1’s website, but if you look at the HTML source code, you see that its author is not ‘Al1’ (Al-one … alone) but the film’s writer/director Adam Butcher). But knowing it’s fake, we can appreciate the bravura pastiche; in the way that Orson Welles simulated radio news bulletins for his War of the Worlds broadcast, and fooled a lot of people into thinking the Martians had landed, Butcher mimics with tremendous dexterity the style of video-blogs, BBC news articles and ugly-looking free-to-make websites.

An enjoyable and thought-provoking short, with a gripping story innovatively told, Internet Story is worth ten minutes of your time.

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