Documentaries have the unfortunate reputation as being dry, boring films. A documentary about the World Wide Web would seem to be doubly cursed, focusing on the unfilmable medium of the internet. The documentary Home Page instead attempts to capture a picture of the internet via the eccentric personalities of the people behind the web pages. While Home Page gives a good overview of the culture, the documentary is never truly satisfying.
Home Page follows web pioneer Justin Hall, one of the first people to host a website exclusively devoted to…himself. It’s not just a quick introductory page, but an in-depth analysis of personal details and thoughts, as well as those of his friends and family. His entire life is plastered on his website, for anyone and everyone to read.
What type of person would shun all notions of privacy? That is the initial issue documentarian Doug Block tries to discover. Justin is certainly an atypical fellow, with shocking styles of hair and dress. It’s obvious that he craves as much attention as he can get. But is there something deeper to it all???
Doug uncovers an entire subculture who live their lives online in the public eye. As expected, there are nerds, hermits, geeks and weirdos, but several “normal” folk have been drawn into the culture as well. Soon Doug himself becomes addicted to the craze, and finds himself setting up his own homepage. Where will it all end?
The film introduces us to quite a number of eccentrics, none more unusual than Justin Hall. Unfortunately, that is all we ever truly get, an introduction. The film never delves below the superficial, and we never truly get to see what makes Hall, or his web page tick.
The documentary does an interesting survey of personal web page culture. We meet several people who have decided to sacrifice privacy for the online atmosphere, as well as friends and associates whose privacy is under attack as well. But while Home Page does flirt with privacy ideas, it never becomes an issue for the film’s subjects, and is casually set aside.
But, the fascinating material is much too thin when stretched out over 100 minutes. There’s a lot of filler in here. Countless scenes of people typing, rat-a-tat-tat, at their computer keyboards follow one another. At times, the film borders on becoming merely a collection of home movies.
A die-hard web junkie might find most of Home Page enthralling, but the casual surfer will quickly be looking for that next link.