Erasing David

Erasing David


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Is surveillance intrusive? Is freedom just another word for paranoia? Who knows what you know? Is there an escape route?

Erasing David has the look of a made-for-TV experiment. In this world of electronic snooping would it be possible to disappear? It’s not only the cameras that watch your every move, but emails and mobile phones and credit cards as well. Someone somewhere is storing this info, with your name on it. Why?

Copy picture

Don’t ask. Or rather, do ask.

David Bond is an ordinary middle-class married man, in the sense that he doesn’t stand out in a crowd. He’s on a mission. Don’t call it a mission. Call it a game. Call it Erasing David.

Here’s the question. Can he get lost for a month? Two private eyes are employed to find him. He says goodbye to his baby daughter and pregnant wife and walks off into the unknown, except the unknown is known and that’s what this is about. Where can he go to avoid the watchers, those paper trails and electronic tags that give away his position and expose his secrets? Berlin? Brussels? A roundhouse in Wales?

The film is part doc, with assorted talking heads warning of what is happening to us, even suggesting that the CIA runs Facebook and your DNA on a toothbrush could track you down, and a faintly artificial cat-and-mouse game, in which the detectives rifle through bin bags and stakeout an isolated cottage in Yorkshire. If David is the prey, databases are the hounds. The facts that emerge are indeed scary. Has privacy been corrupted beyond retrieval? And yet after 13 days David says, “I think I’m going a bit mad on my own.” Being invisible is being lonely and being lonely freaks David out. Quite soon he is seeing them everywhere, although he does not know who they are. The detectives close in, with a distinct absence of tension. Will there be a “Gotcha!” moment? Or has David been swallowed by the crowd?

The subject matter is serious and the filmmakers have attempted to illustrate it with a man on the run, rather than investigate clinically, as in the brief discussion with a survivor of the East German secret police. David’s story touches a nerve when it should chill the blood. Britain is one of the three top surveillance countries in the world after China and Russia. Should we be proud?

David says, be afraid.

Reviewed on: 30 Apr 2010
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A man is pursued by private investigators in an attempt to prove that privacy has been completely lost in modern surveillance society.
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Director: David Bond, Ashley Jones, Melinda McDougall

Year: 2009

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: UK


Doc/Fest 2009

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