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No Maps for These Territories (2000)

Follows author and cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson, on a digital North American road trip.

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Follows author and cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson, on a digital North American road trip.

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4 October 2000 (Canada)  »

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A Profound and Moving Statement About the Human Condition
22 March 2001 | by See all my reviews

You don't need to be a fan of William Gibson to get a lot out of "No Maps for These Territories." Taking the simple form of Gibson expounding on a raft of subjects from the backseat of a car en route from Los Angeles to Vancouver, intercut with a breathtaking visual melange to illustrate his points, "Maps" is a good reminder of how truly profound have been the changes in the world in the last few years, as well as what it means to be human -- the only animal that makes maps, after all.

Despite the whole "cyberpunk" label (which he rejects, anyway) Gibson comes across as intelligent, thoughtful and a rather nice person, and he looks at least a good decade and a half younger than his mid-50's baby-boomer age. And his description of his writing process is the most accurate distillation of how creativity works that I've ever heard. There isn't any BS coming from this back seat; Gibson speaks from the heart and it shows.

Oddly enough, it's the hardcore fans who might be the most disappointed in this film. Gibson is almost self-deprecating in talking about his work and his fame. But it's a film that deserves to be seen, and listened to with great attention. It's also done with a stunning style that adds to, rather than distracts from, the content. The film begins with frenetic, quick-cut images, but ends up in a beautiful, elegiac mood as we drive down a fog-shrouded bridge while U2's Bono reads from Gibson's unpublished Memory Palace. The end result is moving, haunting and worth many repeat viewings to take it all in.


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