(2012, US/Fr, 193 min) Dir Murray Grossman.
Another epic and encyclopaedic documentary from Grossman, this one following the construction of a mobile phone from the mines in Mongolia and Sierra Leone where the rare earth minerals are dug up to the engineers in South Korea and the United States who construct the various parts like the gyroscope, liquid crystal display and internal processors and then to the enormous plants in China where all these elements are put together, assembled into the finished product. More than that each part is subject to a brief biography, like a short film within the film, telling you who invented it, who designed it, what the elements are used for in the finished products and the people involved at every juncture, from the designers to the assembly line workers, are heard from and their lives illuminated. Despite what it sounds like it’s not a polemical film either, simply addressing the facts as they are. Over two years in the making Phone is more like spending three hours on Wikipedia following links than the standard documentary but it does what Wikipedia can’t – it puts a face on the modern world and realises fantastically how much modern industry straddles the globe. It may well sound like the most boringest documentary of all time but you’ll come out of the cinema gobsmacked, believe me.