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The Aquilian

Network: A classic film with modern lessons

Network: A classic film with modern lessons

Set in a late 1970s New York, Network opens its story with a bang.  An anchor beaten down by some personal tragedy explodes on the air, making several wild claims before eventually threatening suicide.  While initially seen as a fireable offense, the struggling news station must then contemplate what they are willing to do to keep ratings.  The remainder of the movie addresses this debate and throws in some twists and turns along the way. 

Intentionally, over the top and symbolic, this comedic tale does much more than tell a story about a madman’s journalistic decline.  Director Sidney Lumet expertly pokes fun at capitalism, American hypocrisy and religion in a more digestible way than the far-left protesters of the era while simultaneously promoting some of her own more progressive ideas.

Throughout the film, many of the characters can be seen in the viewer’s own life.  Sympathetic and despicable, each individual has his or her own overarching core, but none are one dimensional.  In a time where women were still largely restricted to family life or low level jobs, Lumet created Faye Dunaway’s character of Diana Christensen to serve as a capable, bold and smart female villain.  Even at her most malevolent, it was impossible not to admire her resolve. Furthermore, Peter Finch and William Holden put on excellent performances highlighting some of America’s most frequently swept-under-the-rug realities.

Two or three electric scenes will stick in the viewer’s mind after you leave the cinema and one will stand above them all.  This movie may even get you up out of your seat. Best put by Dunaway’s role, the film “articulat[es] all of the popular rage” and has potential to really get the crowd involved.

If you liked societally instigative movies like The Truman Show or Apocalypse Now, then this is the film for you. Aaron Sorkin’s TV show, The Newsroom, is also a more candid response to a lot of the same issues brought up in Network

While Network isn’t incredibly revolutionary by today’s standards, it was among the boldest jabs at society and “the man” back in the day.  These thought-provoking themes struck a chord with audiences, winning Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway Academy Awards for best actor and actress as well as one for best screenplay.  Among a host of other accolades, this film was well loved from the beginning. Stunning visuals at times and effortless intrigue make this a very good watch, but not an amazing one in my opinion.  I see it as 4.25 stars out of 5.

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    Pam ValeirasApr 17, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    Great review! Makes me want to watch this! Bravo!