NetworkFeature Film |
Howard Beale is as mad as hell, and he's not going to take this anymore.
Writer Paddy Chayefsky's wickedly satirical story of exploitation and human devolution, Network is a terrifyingly prescient vision of a society in thrall to a growing media-industrial complex. Set amid the bland corporate environs of failing TV network UBS, the film, masterfully directed by Sidney Lumet, follows Howard Beale (Peter Finch), an aging news anchor whose on-air meltdown convinces ratings-obsessed executive Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) that the key to the company's revival lies in using the veteran personality's unstable rants to launch a glitzy primetime show. Diana, who wears her cynicism on her sleeve, fascinates Beale's longtime friend Max Schumacher (William Holden) while simultaneously impressing soulless UBS golden boy Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall). Finch, who deservedly won a posthumous Oscar, delivers his angry tirades with an almost-messianic fervor that inspires the heartbreaking realization that no man, no matter how good his ratings are, can be allowed to speak truth to power forever. A subplot about a weekly series based on the exploits of a domestic terrorist group is absurdly hilarious, while Diana and Max's crumbling relationship pushes the film into darker, nihilistic territory. Network's depiction of a world without borders, filled with corporations without allegiance, remains a shocking, depressing, and brilliant commentary on our past, present, and future.