In 1976 director Sidney Lumet took Paddy Chayefsy’s Network and turned it into this satirical feature. Lumet’s interpretation of the television networks is represented amazingly in this film. This film can be seen as political in many ways. However, it doesn’t stop and tell you it’s political. There are certain instances were you viewer has to pick up on that aspect. If you are watching this film and expecting a clear message, politically, you are not going to necessarily find it. This film although has many references to politics, to classify it as purely political is incorrect. It is more of a socially reflective film.
The film deals with the corporate world taking over a small network broadcasting channel. The ratings of the station are less then stellar and their veteran broadcaster Howard Beale (Peter Finch) has brought the ratings even lower, to the extent the executives have asked him to leave due to the ratings. As mentioned in the film, the late 1970s were a time just like now, where people were out of work, had little to no money, and Beale suffered the same illness, except he had a job. He had lost it all, his wife, his will to live, everything that should be important to a man.
The political message in the movie is a little hard to understand. I would say the political message is that even when life has got you down and everyone around you is either trying to take you down or take advantage of you, you can still make a difference to people. Howard Beale can be seen as a Politician in many ways. Here is a guy with a long standing career in the television news business and when the big business takes over and doesn’t see a profit coming from him, they need to get rid of him. They think they have it all figured out until he tells the audience he will kill himself on live television. That’s when the business men realize maybe there is a place for him and a way to make money. They make this guy in a crisis and exploit it for profit. Government will and has done that in its sector as well. Many politicians have been made a mockery of just to get an audience. For instance, Senator Byrd from West Virginian is the oldest member in the United States Senate. This man is all but dead, but the GOP still sends him out there every now and again, because he is at the point of almost senile that he will say just about anything and it draws an audience. For instance, a few months ago, Senator Byrd went out onto the floor and was talking about dog racing. Within hours the video was all over You Tube, it came to be known as the “Barbaric” speech. The business men did the same thing to Beale. Beale went out on television and made famous “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”
The message the film portrays is very important. It is the key line to the plot of the movie. It is very effective in drawing the audience to the fascination of the characters. The music is limited and therefore does not play a significant role at all in the film. The images and symbols and dialogue are what needs to be paid most attention too. Without these things the movie would be dull and boring. It is definitely not a movie you can passively watch. The viewer really needs to sit and pay attention to the conversations and the quick dialogue in some scenes.
Politically the view here is expressed amazingly. It is right on and direct for 1976. The film does a great job at reflecting the issues of the time. It mentions the recession the country is in, it also mentions President Ford, and many other issues happening in the late 70s. This is defiantly a movie that could have been released now in 2009. There are similar issues arosed like the recession, a new President, troubles with the Arabs and so on. A 2009 audience would defiantly identify with this film very well.
I thought this was one of the best movies I have seen in quite some time. It was defiantly a million times better then the previous two films I have reviewed. There is something about satire I can really appreciate and that’s exactly what this film was. That is defiantly clear. This is the best smart satire next to Dr. Strangelove. On a scale of one to ten, ten being amazing, this is defiantly a ten and a definite recommendation for those who want to see a film that will make them laugh and think.