For people having a hard time grasping what Bitcoin is all about, deliverance is at hand.
Released last weekend, "The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin" tells the story of the creation and development of the much talked-about digital currency.
The documentary follows the journey of computer programmer Daniel Mross, who discovered Bitcoin in 2011. He immediately became obsessed with it. Shortly afterward he convinced his brother, Nicholas - who happens to be a filmmaker - to start making a documentary.
"The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin" does a thorough job of detailing the history of Bitcoin, from its creation by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto through the tumultuous events of early 2014.
The film also goes into the mechanics of how Bitcoin works. It uses graphics and plain language to explain how Bitcoins are mined and how the network functions.
These technical explanations, along with the historical background, should go a long way toward helping Bitcoin newbies make sense of the digital currency.
But there's also plenty here for long-term Bitcoin enthusiasts who already know most of that stuff. In particular, Mross interviews many of the key figures in the development of Bitcoin.
"The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin" Interviews Pioneers
These interviews make this Bitcoin documentary an incredibly valuable historical record.
Mross talks to such Bitcoin pioneers as:
- Gavin Andresen, a key Bitcoin developer who communicated directly with Satoshi Nakamoto in the early days.
- Erik Voorhees, who worked at early Bitcoin exchange BitInstant and founded Bitcoin gambling website SatoshiDice.
- Charlie Shrem, who was founder and CEO of BitInstant as well as a founding member of the Bitcoin Foundation.
- Roger Ver, also known as the "Bitcoin Jesus" for his spirited support of the digital currency. Ver co-founded the Bitcoin wallet company Blockchain and is a Bitcoin angel investor.
- The Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler, who are working toward the launch of the first Bitcoin ETF, the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust (Nasdaq: COIN).
- Mark Karpeles, the notorious CEO of the failed Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange. We get to see a confident Karpeles months before the crisis that brought down Mt. Gox.
A few of the comments in these interviews are eerily prescient. Charlie Shrem, for example, is interviewed extensively in the hectic early days of BitInstant.
Viewers who know Shrem's story will raise an eyebrow when he makes this comment regarding his fear of breaking the law:
"I don't know how the government will react to Bitcoin. But I spend thousands of dollars on lawyers every day just to make sure that I'm not going to go to jail," Shrem says. "It's terrifying. I mean, I don't want to go to jail."
In January federal agents arrested Shrem for selling $1 million worth of bitcoins to the illegal drug Internet marketplace Silk Road. He was facing a sentence of up to 30 years in jail before he agreed to a plea bargain in September. Shrem is hopeful the deal will win his freedom, though he still faces up to five years in jail.
How This Bitcoin Documentary Could Have Been Better
While "The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin" covers the events surrounding the digital currency well up to the latter part of 2013, it feels rushed after that.
All the crazy events of 2014, including the Mt. Gox bankruptcy as well as Newsweek's misidentification of unemployed engineer Dorian Nakamoto as Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, are crammed in the 96-minute film's last five minutes.
That's because the Mross brothers had planned to stop filming in the fall of 2013. Little did they know the Bitcoin rollercoaster was just getting started.
The film also includes a few too many vignettes of the personal life of Mross that only serve to bog things down.
But those minor nits aside, we're lucky to have "The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin." There won't be a second chance to chronicle the early days of Bitcoin. Fortunately the Mross brothers saw the need and seized the moment.
Where to see it: "The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin" is getting very limited screen exposure, but is available to buy or rent over the Internet from such vendors as the iTunes Store, Google Play, and Walmart's VUDU.
Find out more: Bitcoin is truly a revolutionary form of money. In fact, some have called Bitcoin "the Internet of money." And despite volatility in the Bitcoin price, the digital currency's promising future could see it soar to $10,000, $100,000 or even higher in the years to come. That's why Money Morning created this guide on "How to Buy Bitcoins."
Follow me on Twitter @DavidGZeiler.
About the Author
David Zeiler, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.
Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.