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McLuhan's Wake (2002)


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Credited cast:
Andrew McLuhan Andrew McLuhan ... Fisherman (in 'The Descent into the Maelstrom' segment)
Marshall McLuhan Marshall McLuhan ... Himself (archive footage)


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2002 (Canada) See more »

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Good at what it does, but no good if you disagree with McLuhan.
28 January 2004 | by jsangsparSee all my reviews

I'd only heard of Marshall McLuhan very vaguely before - I knew the very basis of his media theories, and had seen the Heritage Canada ads that used to be shown every 15 minutes - so I was very interested to see a film about the man, since he had had seemingly little impact on the world but was apparently an important Canadian figure.

Turns out he wasn't much more than a guy who had theories with very little factual basis and a knack for media manipulation.

The problem with this documentary is that its format is based on McLuhan's four laws of media, four questions that must (supposedly) be asked of every medium to understand them, and is thus completely in agreement with McLuhan's fairly vaporous theories and completely advocates everything he's ever said. While the idea of a documentary sans bias is essentially impossible, and I've enjoyed documentaries which take sides I don't agree with, the foundation of McLuhan's Wake is too essentially incompatible with reality for me to appreciate.

If you agree with McLuhan's theories and don't mind fairly frequent, vaguely related references to Poe's story about the maelstrom, you'll probably like this. If you don't, you'll shake your head in disbelief and leave 90 minutes poorer.

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