Network (1976) Film Review

Rating 15
Length 2h01
Release 01.11.2002
Director Sidney Lumet
About In this lauded satire, veteran news anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) discovers that he’s being put out to pasture, and he’s none too happy about it. After threatening to shoot himself on live television, instead he launches into an angry televised rant, which turns out to be a huge ratings boost for the UBS network. This stunt allows ambitious producer Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) to develop even more outrageous programming, a concept that she takes to unsettling extremes.
Moon: no moon
Where to Watch: Own copy
Trailer:

The Good

  • This is for anyone who loves the work of Aaron Sorkin. Particularly those who have watched, and loved, his 2012 drama The Newsroom. Not that this film takes away from Sorkin’s creation, far from it. This provides a viewer with an insight to the inspiration behind the work. I also suspect that there are some Easter Eggs hidden within the 3 season, Jeff Daniels fronted, show.
    I’d also say this is perfect for those who have enjoyed The Morning Show.
  • I’m not sure I’d heard of Peter Finch before watching this film. However, his performance was something else. It is easy to see why he won the best actor awards. I must admit, I do shy away from War based films, but perhaps this is the push I need to explore the genre. (Correction, I have seen Finch in A Town Like Alice. I know exactly who he plays, but I do not remember it.)
  • This is a prophetic tale akin to that of 1984 and almost as dark a morality story as A Handmaid’s Tale. While it could easily be reworked to fit our modern setting, the idea that this came as a “warning” does add to the horrific nature of that ending.
  • The cast is made up of people you will recognise, but not necessarily place. Yes, it may distract you from the narrative, but its really quite fun to work out what you know people from.

The Bad

  • Modern viewers have been ruined by on-your-nose satire and might miss some of the cues and nods being set out of the era in which the film was made. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even look anything up about this film prior to putting it on. I simply wanted to watch a film from the 70s and it was the first one to come up. It wasn’t obvious to me that it *was* satire until reading up on it.

The Ugly

  • It’s a very static and dialogue led film. This might seem like a strange criticism for someone who adores Sorkin and has a yearly rewatch of the Gilmore Girls. However, Sorkin did develop the ‘walk and talk’ and that really does give movement to his work.
    Network feels a little like a Samuel Beckett play; they all use a lot of words, but they don’t say very much at all. It felt to me, that this film had the same problem as Beckett’s play ‘Happy Days’ in which for two hours you watch ONE actor, buried from the waist talk to an unseen person. No movement, whatsoever.

Final Thoughts

A thought provoking must-see movie. Less painful than Citizen Kane, but you won’t necessarily feel entertained.

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