Sunday, December 11, 2005


Network [1976]

One of the best movies. Ever. This is the movie Robert Murdoch was watching when he got the idea for the Fox "News" Network. This is just so incredibly well written. Which is enough for me. I mean, the acting is good. Really good, actually. But the movie is just a solid delivery of text. Wonderful, spine-chillingly fabulous text. But that is it. There is minimal action or physical movement of any kind. Basically because there is no room for it. Hell, it is a Sidney Lumet film. I mean, 12 Angry Men took place almost entirely in one room. Plus it isn't needed. The lines are king. One result of that is the timelessness of the film. Look past the 70's hair-dos and bell-bottoms, obsolete technology etc. and you have a movie that could have opened yesterday. And it would have been received as a timely wake-up call. A fresh critique of TV's kiss of death to society. Or as one character puts it in the film: "You are television incarnate, Diana, indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. The daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split-seconds and instant replays. You are madness, Diana, virulent madness, and everything you touch dies with you." But there is another pillar holding up the movie. Another aspect of society getting a whooping. The conglomerate. The corporation. The Network. Actually, the movie is more about how big business corrupts television than about how television corrupts people and their society. Kind of like Syriana, which I really look forward to seeing. I'll end with a quote from the Network's chairman of the board. This says it all: "There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state? Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale."