When a veteran anchorman is forced out of his post, he announces to viewers that he will kill himself during his farewell broadcast. Network executives rethink their decision when his fanatical tirade results in a spike in ratings.
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The ills of the corporatisation of not only broadcast news, but the world at large in this scabrous attack on commutable integrity, exploitation and contempt. It's ugly stuff but brilliantly played with crackle and fizz and staged by a Director who knew how to read a script. Perhaps the closet Hollywood has yet come
to opera, albeit ranted from a soapbox. Sad to say it's not prescient, just nothing changes.
It seems obvious that in the 70s Lumet possessed a cinematic capacity above the ordinary, looking at social reality with the same intensity that he looks for his filming ways, a deliverance that approach a possibility of a theoretical cinema in action, on the ground, as the films with Pacino, "Prince of the City" or this amazing dithyrambic libel anti society of the spectacle, which with its techniques dynamites it.
It's campy fun. Seriously how can anyone take this so seriously and call it one of the best screenplays. It's so hyperbolic and preachy. That said, much like it's descendant MAGNOLIA, it's too insane to not enjoy. It doesn't feel Lumet had much a say on this film as the direction feels enslaved to the script. Chayefsky is in charge here. Plus, even as a satire, it feels like a retread of A Face in the Crowd.
This movie is still alarmingly relevant, not only in the current television world but even with the new internet news/blog world that we find ourselves in. Extreme emotion gets clicks and shares, anything too 'real', 'complicated' or 'depressing' drops off the radar.
To quote Mr. Beal himself, "This is revelation!" It's absolutely horrifying how true the content of this 1976 film is to our times, and thank god, because if "Network" had been written today, the powers that be would make sure it never made it to film. One of the best movies ever.
Could have been the most important Western film of the 20th century--it's more relevant today than it was in 1976. The problem is that we didn't run to our windows and shout, "We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take this anymore!"
If a single word could describe Network, that would be 'real.' Big decisions are ahead of TV executives when Howard Beale, a veteran news broadcaster, promises to commit suicide on live TV as poor ratings bring his show to an end. Lumet lets us see as a man's sanity goes downhill and morbidity takes over millions of viewers. From the bold dialogues to sublime acting it all seems right in this satire of todays' media.
Brilliant. Finely treads the line between satire and self-referential realism. And makes it look easy! The script is just perfect and Sidney Lumet always puts the camera where it needs to be - the relationship between Howard Beale and his cameras is a big part of the shot design, and very smart. Wonderful storytelling here. Way ahead of its time.