Sunday, July 29, 2012
Movie Review: Network (1976)
A tragi-comic condemnation of the transformation of television news into entertainment, Network is scathing satire at its finest, a talkfest with a lot to say delivered by a cast of performers in peak form.
Robert Duvall and Ned Beatty are extraordinary representations of the new corporate voice dominating programming decisions through ambitious talent like Christensen, and both get to deliver wall-shaking speeches confirming a new world order in which the almighty pursuit of money and ratings trumps all, although when Beatty's Arthur Jensen gets involved, even profit takes a back seat to the on-air glamorizing of the corporate agenda.
The depth of talent and the quality of performances extracted by Lumet extended to Beatrice Straight, who famously won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for the briefest of roles. During her limited screen time she delivers a sharply emotional monologue as Louise Schumacher attempts to decide if her marriage is worth saving.
Network predicted television's demise to a freak-show dominated race to ratings, a condition that continues to paralyse most of the medium. Chayefsky took television's demise to its extreme, forecasting exclamation marks of exploitation and violence that would only come to fruition a couple of generations later. Network not only shone the spotlight on television's current and future failures, but also brilliantly exposed the human predilection to descend into the soul nullifying pursuit of the wrong objective.
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