Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

McLuhan's Wake 2002

Directed by Kevin McMahon

Canada In English
94 minutes Beta-SP



Michael McMahon
Kristina McLaughlin
Gerry Flahive


David Sobelman


John Minh Tran


Justin Stephenson


Christopher Donaldson


Kurt Swinghammer


Laurie Anderson


Amsterdam Documentary 2002


In the 50s and 60s Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980) was the world’s hippest intellectual. He said ‘the medium is the message’, he spoke of the ‘global village’, he insisted that the study of advertising was a valid academic pursuit. He predicted the electronic retrieval of information in a way that clearly foreshadowed the search engine. The medium did indeed become the message as McLuhan’s innumerable appearances on North American television talk shows broke his arguments down into sound bites; the more apparently wacky, the more the hosts could hoot with delight. Kevin McMahon’s elegant documentary seeks to rehabilitate McLuhan’s reputation and interrogate his work for its pertinence today. Structuring his enquiry around McLuhan’s final book The Laws of Media, he draws on plentiful archival footage of McLuhan, along with interviews with his colleagues, family and other scholars. These are interspersed with McMahon’s own handsomely filmed extrapolations of the metaphors in McLuhan’s work. Laurie Anderson makes an ideal narrator.