The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin

Movie review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin Movie Poster Image
Informative, engaging look at currency's origins and growth.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 96 minutes

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age 12+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie argues that Bitcoin lets users take control of their finances without the need for a central authority like a bank. Ends on a positive note, with the hope that Bitcoin's decentralized system will become a way for developing nations to join the global economy. Although the currency has faced setbacks and is often associated with illegal activities, Bitcoin has continued to adapt.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin inventor's alias, has inspired many to become involved in the digital currency movement. Daniel believes his involvement with Bitcoin will help him make the world a better place. Also features several Bitcoin entrepreneurs and millionaires who believe Bitcoin will succeed and change the financial world.

Violence
Sex
Language

A few uses of the word "s--t."

Consumerism

Plenty of recognizable brands mentioned -- like WordPress and Reddit, two of the first websites to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. Also references to older forms of Internet technology like Netscape, Napster, and an early version of America Online, plus major banking institutions like Bank of America, Visa, and MasterCard. People are seen using Apple, Coke, and Starbucks products. Shows how Tor is used to access the Silk Road in order to anonymously buy and sell illegal goods using Bitcoins. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to a now-defunct website called Silk Road, essentially an underground black market where people could anonymously buy and sell illicit drugs using Bitcoins. In one scene, a drug dealer known as "Mr. Bitcoin" has marijuana in front of him while using Silk Road. People drink at a bar as part of a networking event and are seen smoking during a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin explores the various ways that Bitcoin, a form of open-source digital currency, can be used. The movie covers topics like the potential advantages of Bitcoin and the currency's ability to grow within the global economy, as well as some of the controversy surrounding the role that Bitcoin plays in the Silk Road, often referred to as the Bitcoin black market. Plenty of recognizable brands are mentioned during the documentary, like WordPress and Reddit (two of the first websites to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment), plus references to older forms of Internet technology like Netscape, Napster, and an early version of America Online. There are a few uses of "s--t," as well as scenes of people drinking and smoking in social settings. A drug dealer referred to as "Mr. Bitcoin" is shown with marijuana and using the Silk Road at an Internet cafe.

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What's the story?

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer form of digital currency created by an unknown developer who's known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Using Bitcoin, transactions can easily be sent over the Internet and are recorded in a public ledger known as the Block Chain. THE RISE AND RISE OF BITCOIN, which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, spans multiple years, tracing the currency's evolution from the first global Bitcoin transaction in 2010 (10,000 bitcoins in exchange for two Papa John's pizzas) through it's exponential growth in 2013. The film showcases the various ways that early Bitcoin users -- like 35-year-old computer programmer Daniel Mross, plus CEOs of Bitcoin startups, entrepreneurs, and investors -- have incorporated this revolutionary technology into their daily lives through Bitcoin mining, the creation of Bitcoin startups, and eventually its introduction into mainstream consumerism.

Is it any good?

The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin is an excellent introduction for those unfamiliar with the digital currency. While the documentary stresses the advantages of a decentralized system of banking, it doesn't hide Bitcoin's troubling association with the Silk Road (a now-defunct site that served as an online black market) and other illegal activities. Instead, the film shows how this online currency has continued to adapt and rise above its setbacks.

Although viewers may still have questions afterward, the use of animated visuals to explain how Bitcoin transactions work and interviews with some of Bitcoin's earliest users and pioneers provides a basic understanding of the currency's role in today's society. There isn't necessarily a conclusion to this documentary, but, then again, Bitcoin is still a growing form of technology that many hope will continue to thrive.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Bitcoin. How familiar were you with this form of currency before watching the documentary? Did watching increase your understanding of what it is and how it works?

  • Do you think that people should be able to control own their finances, instead of using a central authority like a bank?

  • After watching the documentary, what would you say are some of the advantages and disadvantages to Bitcoin?

  • What do you think the filmmakers hope to accomplish with their movie? Should documentaries be wholly objective, or is there room for opinion?

Movie details

For kids who love documentaries

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