Google and the world brain - Polar Star Films

The most ambitious project ever conceived on the Internet: Google's master plan to scan every book in the world and the people trying to stop them. Google says they are building a library for mankind, but some say they also have other intentions.


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Google and the World Brain Trailer
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The story of the most ambitious project ever conceived on the Internet. In 2002 Google began to scan millions of books in an effort to create a giant global library, containing every book in existence. They had an even greater purpose - to create a higher form of intelligence, something that HG Wells had predicted in his 1937 essay "World Brain". But over half the books Google scanned were in copyright, and authors across the world launched a campaign to stop Google, which climaxed in a New York courtroom in 2011. A film about the dreams, dilemmas and dangers of the Internet.



The film is a


In co-production with

BBC - Nick Fraser
ARTE / ZDF - Martin Pieper
TVE - Andrés Luque
TVC - Jordi Ambrós and Joan Salvat

In association with

LICHTPUNT - Wim Van Rompaey
KNOWLEDGE - Murray Battle
SVT - Emelie Persson
DR 2 - Mette Hoffmann Meyer
NRK - Tore Tomter
VPRO - Nathalie Windhorst
ERT - Ariana Meintana

With support from

MEDIA Development and Distribution
Institut Català de les Empreses Culturals
Instituto de Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales

And developed with



Director Ben Lewis
Executive Producer Carles Brugueras
Producer Bettina Walter
Editor Simon Barker
Director of Photography Frank-Peter Lehmann
Music Lucas Ariel Vallejos
UK Producer Viva Van Loock
Production Executive Madeleine Sheahan
Line Producer Liz Roberts
Junior Production Manager Júlia Aragay
Post-Production Manager Rose Kowalski
Associate Development Producer Melanie Horkan
Development Producer BLTV Fiona O'Doherty
Editorial Adviser Danielle Schleif
Production Accountants Georgia Simon, Spain
Norman Clarke, UK
Production Assistants Katharina Harnack
Anton Corbal
Iva Boytcheva
Anna Ibañez
Delegate Producer for TVC Ruth Llòria
Archive Researcer Gordon King
Researchers Isabel Andrés-Porti, Spain
Lisa Berger, Spain
Sonia Tercero – Spain
Ignasi Brugueras, Internet
Daniel Nehm, French
Emma He, China
Fixers on location Clara Aymami, Mexico
Heath Cozens, Japan
Victor Ruiperez, Spain
Additional Photography Juan Luis Cabellos
Aitor Echeverría
Rose Kowalski
Ben Lewis
H.G. Wells Actor Brendan Price
Make-up Pilartxo Diez
Wardrobe Ana Morera
Character Voices Nicolas Chapman
Joshua Zamrycki
Molly Malcom
Animation Artwork Lucas Riess
Motion Graphics Alexis Gallardo
Peter van der Zee
Assistant Editor Judith Miralles
Edit Assistants Raquel Martinez
Ignasi Brugueras
Picture Grader Aaron Pedraza
Sound Mixer Carlos Jiménez
Post-Production Facilities Apuntolapospo
Polar Star Films
Programme lawyer Jan Tomalin
Production Insurance Aon Risk Solutions


AUSTRALIA W. Boyd Rayward
CHINA Kaiser Kuo
Mian Mian
FRANCE Jean-Noël Jeanneney
GERMANY Roland Reuss
INDIA Amit Singhal
JAPAN Shojiro Akashi
RUSSIA Evgeny Morozov
SPAIN Luis Collado
Damià Roure
Jordi Torres
UK Reginald Carr
Richard Ovenden
USA Robert Darnton
Lewis Hyde
Kevin Kelly
Brewster Kahle
Jaron Lanier
Lawrence Lessig
Pamela Samuelson
Clay Shirky
Sidney Verba
Locations Vasconcelos Library, Mexico City
Ghent University Library, Belgium
National Library of China, Beijing
Barcelona Airport, Spain
National Assembly, Paris, France
The National and University Library of Iceland
The Book Storage Facility, Swindon, UK
Caixa Forum, Madrid, Spain
Heidelberg University Library
Archive NASA, BBC Motion Gallery, FreemantleMedia North America, James Griffioen, IDI Images, Krissy Wilson, Andrew Norman Wilson, IBM,Bundeskanzlerin, Atsuko Masako, Sue Kim
Thanks to Paul Malcom Allen from the H.G. Wells Society, Carles Feliu, Juan Antonio Garcia, Patrici Tixis, Stephen Burgen, Jonas Benarroch, JimJak, Cosima van Dannoritzer, Ramón Blanqué






  • "Powerful subject matter, ambitious production and well thought-out arguments successfully generate an interesting story at the same time as creating an uncomfortable atmosphere that grips the viewer." 

    Mònica Planas - Diari ARA Link
  • "At the same time that a new Hollywood comedy about Google is being released with great hullabaloo, Lewis cannot get his film distributed in the United States, even though it was a BBC production and exhibited at the Sundance Film Festival."  

    David Lawsky, Politics and Tech Link
  • “Dans le Livre selon Google, Ben Lewis raconte comment le géant du Web a bien failli accaparer une bonne partie des livres numérisés du monde à son seul profit commercial.”  

    Sophian Fanen, Écrans (Libération.fr) Link
  • "Google und die Macht des Wissens" [von Ben Lewis] wendet sich dem Internetgiganten zu, ohne sich von ihm überrumpeln zu lassen, und beschreibt beeindruckend anhand eines einzigen Problems, was mit der Welt, in der wir leben, nicht mehr stimmt." 

    Stefan Schulz, Frankfurter Allgemeine Feuilleton Link
  • "Ben Lewis sucht in seinem Film Antworten und gibt überraschende Einblicke in ein komplexes Thema."

    Buchmarkt Link
  • "Endlessly fascinating and engaging...It's probably the best documentary you'll see all year...I'll be stunned if this doesn't end up on the Oscar doc short-list." 

    Lucas McNelly - Huffington Post Link
  • "A useful step forward in a conversation most of us don't realize we should be having... Doc offers convincing reasons to pay more attention to Google's utopian schemes."

    John Defore - The Hollywood Reporter Link
  • "…well-constructed….The documentary convincingly points out that Google's ambitions aren't entirely philanthropic, but meant to continue to improve their Search algorithms, and find ways to monetise their enormous stores of information… surprisingly effective".

    Anthony Kaufman - Screen Daily Link
  • "Whatever Sundance is, it has fine documentaries. 'Google and the World Brain'. A whip-smart examination of the pros and cons of Google's desire to digitize every book on Earth."

    Kenneth Turan - Critic's Notebook, Los Angeles Times Link
  • "The message of this beautifully crafted film is that the Internet is exactly half of what you think it is… 'Google and the World Brain' is a masterful documentary. It will undoubtedly have an effect on anyone who sees it."

    Julie Fischer - Indiewire Link
  • "…intriguing … H.G. Wells wasn't far off when he imagined the future being home to a 'world brain'. Lewis' documentary isn't that different from the science fiction author's own forward thinking."

    Matt Patches - Hollywood.com Link
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