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221 of 235 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake up and smell the cathode
Paddy Chayefsky's 1976 blockbuster hit "Network" is, I truly believe, the best film satire ever made. It might well be the best film regardless of genre ever made in the United States, better than "Citizen Kane," better than "The Godfather," better than any of the other numerous contenders. The first time I saw "Network" was on television about ten years ago, a supreme...
Published on December 26, 2004 by Jeffrey Leach

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59 of 77 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars TERRIBLE TRANSFER OF A HOLLYWOOD MASTERPIECE
The film which introduced us to the now legendary quotation, "I'm as made as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore," Sidney Lumet's "Network" is a scathingly brilliant and ominously accurate prediction of what network television circa 2004 (in particular the news division) has become.

When stalwart television news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch)...
Published on April 15, 2003 by Nix Pix


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221 of 235 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake up and smell the cathode, December 26, 2004
This review is from: Network (DVD)
Paddy Chayefsky's 1976 blockbuster hit "Network" is, I truly believe, the best film satire ever made. It might well be the best film regardless of genre ever made in the United States, better than "Citizen Kane," better than "The Godfather," better than any of the other numerous contenders. The first time I saw "Network" was on television about ten years ago, a supreme irony that became more and more amusing as the film progressed, and the powerhouse dialogue, performances, and set pieces captured my imagination unlike any other film. I have since watched this film so many times that at one point I could quote large chunks of dialogue verbatim with the greatest of ease. Over the past several years, however, I haven't seen Chayefsky's masterpiece as often as I would like. When I decided I would finally tackle the daunting prospect of writing a review for this movie, I rented the DVD version and resubmerged myself into the dark world of Howard Beale, Max Schumacher, Diana Christensen, and Frank Hackett. And I rediscovered something I always realize every time I watch this magnificent piece of cinema: "Network" is as great a movie as it was the first time I saw it, and it's prescience to our modern world continues to astonish.

"Network" takes the viewer inside of a major television network, UBS, during the 1970s. Their prime time newscaster, Howard Beale (Peter Finch), has just received word from his boss Max Schumacher (William Holden) that the network is terminating his contract due to low ratings. Perturbed about leaving his position, and with nothing else in life to live for, Beale breaks down on television and promises his audience that he will kill himself on live television the following evening. Not surprisingly, this revelation causes quite a stir amongst the suits on the upper floors. Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall), the new overseer of the network since its acquisition by a larger corporation called CCA, threatens once again to clean house. Schumacher convinces Hackett and the other executives to hold off because Howard is essentially insane, and he even manages to get Beale back on the air the following evening in order to issue a public apology. Max has his own reasons for supporting Beale: the network is threatening to cut the budget of the news division in order to decrease the debt load, a decision they failed to notify Schumacher about beforehand. When Howard goes off on a rant about the sicknesses of American society the following evening, Max refuses to cut the live feed as a protest against the network's unfair treatment.

Hackett hits the roof, but when entertainment division chief Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) convinces him that Beale's rants brought in a record number of viewers, a new idea quickly forms. What if the network encouraged Howard's irrational behavior? What if they made a program based solely on his prophecies about the state of modern America? That's exactly what Christensen and Hackett accomplish when "The Howard Beale Show" debuts on UBS. In front of a roaring crowd, the former newsman raves about the evils of corporatism, the corrosive effects of television, and public corruption. At the end of each tirade, Beale collapses in a faint in front of the cameras. Audiences eat these histrionics up, and ratings for the show go through the roof. UBS is well on its way to turning a profit. Meanwhile, a subplot about Max and Diana plays out. The two embark on a tempestuous love affair despite their professional quibbling about Howard and Max's longtime marriage. While Christensen sets about creating new programs highlighting left-wing revolutionary activities, programs like "The Mao Tse-Tung Hour," Max leaves his wife and moves into Diana's apartment. Their relationship resembles a television program, and as Howard's ratings slip after he receives a readjustment to his worldview from CCA chairman Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty), Max and Diana's union also falters. The film's conclusion is as cruel as it is darkly hilarious.

I've never seen, nor do I expect to ever see again, a film like "Network." Each element of the film fires on every cylinder. Time stops while watching this picture. The performances from major and minor characters are sublime, but it's Peter Finch who grabs the spotlight with both hands and refuses to let go. His Howard Beale raves, rants, gesticulates, and issues statements on the world that spellbind with their power and elegance. His monologue to Max about his mental state, his lecture to audiences about the illusion of television, and his take on corporate buyouts brings me to my feet every time I hear them. Just as memorable is Arthur Jensen's mind-blowing analysis of the true nature of the corporate universe and the ultimate fate of mankind if the citizens of the world allow his ilk to have their way. The film ends with Max Schumacher labeling Diana Christensen "television incarnate" because of her total inability to form meaningful emotional connections. In fact, the mindlessness and callousness of television, how it reduces every aspect of human sentiment and interaction to one-dimensional superficialities, ultimately destroys every character in this film.

I could keep going ad infinitum, explaining how Max represents the common man faced with the daunting task of giving in to his cravings for television (re: Diana) or simply turning it off for good by returning to the wholesomeness of family life. I could also examine how Chayefsky shows us television destroying not only those who watch it but also those who fill the medium with images, i.e. the decision Hackett and Christensen feel they must make concerning Beale's plummeting ratings. What I really want to do is fill this review with line after line of the brilliant dialogue uttered in this film. I won't though; you need to see this tour de force motion picture for yourself. And realize how much of it pertains to our society today. Mad as hell, indeed!
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, May 13, 2005
This review is from: Network (DVD)
Mr. Chayevsky has made, easily, one of the greatest contributions to the art of cinema; one that transcends mere entertainment and holds court within the realm of the social, psychological, and political.
My fellow reviewers have been eloquent in pointing out the details, merits, and slight flaws within this movie.

With the exception of the brutal murder on the air, every single outrageous idea that the film is now, 30+ years later, part and parcel of standard TV programming. The most banal mediocrities, the most mindless sensationalism, the most blatant lies, are all so common on modern TV that it not only goes unnoticed, but is accepted as being good programming. Even people who know they're looking at mind destroying garbage continue to watch it!! All fo this was warned about in the movie; all of it has come to pass.

And still, we watch. We have no idea how the economy is controlled or who is making the decisions that will affect the lives of entire nations. We don't have a clue exactly why wars are fought, or even exactly what wars are being fought. We are blind to science, art, philosophy, and religion. we hardly bat an eye when we hear about industrial pollution on a biblical proportion, atrocities and genocide, or natural disasters wherein thousands of people die. But we know how things are going between Brad and Anjelina, who won last night's game, what soap star had sex with who, went into rehab, and what some loudmouth idiot with a talk show said that shocked and amused all of America the other day.

This is what we have become; and Network warned us, every step of the way.

But what I am impressed with is how the film exposes the horrifying economic and social realities of our time.
Ned Batty's brief scene in the conference room with Finch's Beale character has proven itself to be frighteningly accurate in its description of the disingenuous oligarchical tyranny we live under today. His explanation of the fact that there are no nations; only corporate entities, is exactly the world we live in - with the exception that the corporations are subservient to international banking cartels.

No video collection should be without "Network": nobody can afford to ignore this film.

For my own part, I refuse to permit television in my home.
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76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strikingly contemporary even 30 years later, December 13, 2004
This review is from: Network (DVD)
I watched Network again last night, for the first time since the film first came out. I remembered that it was a good movie with a lot of good acting, but given that the things this film predicted about television have all come true - and been surpassed in spades - I was expecting that its indignation over the commercialization of television news would seem quaint and certainly dated.

Good heavens, was I wrong. This movie hasn't lost its edge a bit in 30 years. William Holden as Max Schumacher is the only real human being, and he wanders through this film looking slack-jawed, as if he'd landed in Toon Town and can't quite believe his eyes. As it turns out, he has: the cartoonish, conniving antics of Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway leave all of us laughing guiltily.

The screenplay emphasizes the comic-strip nature of these characters by giving them dialog that no real human being could ever utter with a straight face. The one sex scene between Dunaway and Holden is one of the most horrifyingly hilarious moments I can remember from any film. Add Ned Beatty - who doesn't say much through most of the film, and then erupts like Lucky in "Waiting for Godot" with a single, five-minute monologue that will peel the paint off your walls - and this is one of the darkest, funniest films of the last 50 years.

They should re-release this film in theaters. Especially now.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clairvoyant commentary, January 18, 2005
This review is from: Network (DVD)
Perhaps this is more of an editorial comment than a review. I wonder if those viewers under 30 who watch Network will grasp the delicious irony of this film. A generation that has grown up on "Survivor", "Fear factor" and "American Idol" may not see anything unusual about "Sybil the Sooth-Sayer" as "news". (In fact, those of us who have watched the unfortunate evolution of "news programming" over the past 15 years might not see anything unusual about it either).

And that is why this movie is so depressing. If television, and news programming in particular, ever had any integrity, and had that integrity not slipped away, we could watch Network today and say "what a fabulous movie - what a dark comedy". But alas, we can now only say the former, because this movie has proven to be more than prophetic.

For an actual plot synopsis, read any of the other (many excellent) reviews here. The acting is superb as is the direction. Yes, we have some "wordy speeches" in the dialogue, but for some reason people seem more "touchy" about that with Network than other movies, and I'm not sure why.

William Holden is a fabulous actor, and this may be, from a "realism" perspective, his best. His haggard and worn out features only magnify his unique(in this case) "human-ness" - his is the only character that television does not somehow destroy (besides his wife). Ned Beatty, Robert Duvall and Fay Dunaway, Peter Finch and Beatrice Straight all give stellar performances as well.

Maybe the saddest thing of all is that the most infamous line from the movie, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore", did not turn out to be prophetic. And because of that, television has sunk to a low that perhaps even Chayefsky and Lumet could not have imagined.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glad as hell they did this right, March 2, 2006
"I think I'd like to be an angry prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our time," fallen news anchor Howard Beale tells coworkers in the dizzying opening minutes of Paddy Chayefsky's masterpiece "Network." Writer Chayefsky, equally mad as hell, used his black comedy about a raggedy fourth TV network to denounce the hypocrisies of 1976 and warn of media evils to come.

Like his creation Sybil the Soothsayer, "Paddy was capable of seeing the future," director Sidney Lumet says. Chayefsky warned of entertainment masquerading as news, corporate meddling, violent reality shows, the tyranny of ratings, foreign ownership of U.S. media -- essentially the strip-mining of what was already a vast wasteland. "The vision that the movie displayed so eloquently is alive today," producer Howard Gottfried maintains. "TV today has become its own satire," Lumet adds.

Disc 1 includes a sober but quite good commentary from Lumet, who focuses on who won what Oscar, why he rehearses actors, and the thinking behind the "Network" lighting scheme, in which "even the camera is corrupted" as the movie descends into anarchy.

The extra features leadoff on the second disc is a making-of by DVD docu specialist Laurent Bouzereau. It includes chapters on the late Chayefsky, the "mad as hell" phenomenon and the film's powerhouse actors. The docus cover a lot of material and get the job done, but don't expect much of that loopy "Network" spirit.

Also on disc 2, the late Chayefsky talks up the film on a segment of the old talk show "Dinah! The message of "Network," he said, was, "When do we say 'Hold it!' A human life is a hell of a lot more important than your lousy dollar."

Faye Dunaway's portrayal of lone-wolf programming vp Diana Christensen won her the best actress Oscar -- and it is her top-billed performance that gets the most attention in the DVD extras. The part "wasn't easy to say yes to," Dunaway says. "I was advised not to do it. Because, you know, she didn't have a soul. She was a TV baby. There was a vacantness behind those eyes. People were afraid I'd be thought of that way."

Walter Cronkite, whose daughter Kathy played the film's Patty Hearst lookalike, is interviewed on another extra, saying the film's legacy is "it waved a banner of warning to the TV industry that it better not let things do as far as it did on that (UBS) network."

The new! improved! "Network" DVD smokes Warner's bare-bones versions of 1998 and 2000. Images are suitably colorful and handsome for a '70s film, although the presentation suffers from some speckling and unwelcome grain. The stereo Dolby Digital seems challenged by the audio's occasional spikes, lessening their intended impact.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What once was biting satire is now documentary, January 19, 2003
This review is from: Network (DVD)
This movie must have seemed outlandish in 1976. Some people must have laughed, scoffed, and I'm sure many critics thought the film was "over the top," ridiculous. Now we watch it, and we wonder what the "comedy" was, at least in the programming sequences. There are shows now that make Howard Beale's gig look positively lame. Like "Being There," another one of my favorite satires, farce has become reality.

What puzzles me more is some critics, even today, have found the scenes with the SLA-inspired terrorist group to be unbelievable. If we have learned anything in the last 25 years, it's that even the most idealistic, alttruistic groups are extremely media savvy, faxing press releases and providing news stations with so-called "courtesy" video feeds, which many stations, lacking scruples, put on the air without even acknowledging the "courtesy." Nothing is pure; there are no ideals. And I think Chayefsky nailed that perfectly.

The performances are all terrific, but to me the standouts are Robert Duvall, at his bigmouth bullying best, and William Holden, as a man broken down and at the end of his rope, but with some fire still left in his belly. Maybe his last speech, where he breaks up with Diana, is a little too close to "talking the play," but until then it's a wonderful performance. Also scene-stealing is Marlene Warfield as an Angela Davis-type of liaison who has some fabulous lines, a few of which I can't print here. And of course, there's Finch, with his famous rallying cry, "I'm mad as hell..." that millions around the country embrace. His show skyrockets, but it's just a fad, the way reality TV shows have more recently become, and a year later ratings have tanked. Programming's solution is to look for the next fad, even though that is destined to burn out too, trapping the network in an endless loop that will probably lead to burn out. This is no solution, of course, but two decades later real-life programmers have not advanced beyond this strategy.

One year after Network hit screens, ABC News would be taken over by the man who ran ABC Sports, Roone Arledge, and he would run them both the same way for many years. This is not to slam Roone, who actually did many good things for TV news. But this was the very beginning--the crack in the floodgates--of news and entertainment mixing, becoming symbiotic, and finally blurring, till we're reached the point where entertainment has triumphed and news is now a thinly-disguised advertisement, after being for the past two decades thinly-disguised entertainment. Where will it end? Don't look to Network for that. I don't even think Chayefsky could have forseen where we are today.

The print on this DVD is excellent--if it weren't for the polyester and the dated sets, we'd think this film were made yesterday. I wish there were some commentary or a documentary or a look back 25 years later type of thing, but still, this is a DVD that should be on every serious film buff's shelves. Network was made right in the middle of a period when Hollywood was creating big-budget but personal films that had a social conscience. The action-fantasy flicks of the late 70s, starting with Star Wars, killed off that kind of filmmaking, for the most part, or at least consigned them to small-budget "limited release" pictures. At the same time, though, it would be a lot harder to make a satire like Network today. Tom Wolfe recently lamented that great satires are not being written anymore, and concluded that this is because life has become its own farce, and it's hard to make a statement that really stands out. Watching Network again, I realized he has a point.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what a top-notch script and cast can do., January 4, 2003
By 
D. Marvin (Council Bluffs, IA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Network (DVD)
For reasons I struggle daily to understand, this movie has been all but forgotten. I never hear it mentioned by my peers -- even huge film buffs I frequently speak with have told me they haven't seen it. Why?
Every great movie begins with a great script, and that's what screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky had when he penned this dialogue-heavy satire of network television in the late 70's. But the script alone would not have sealed the deal, for it would take a truly talented cast to bring to life a script of this caliber.
And, boy, did they land a superb one. William Holden ("The Wild Bunch", Best Actor: "Stalag 17") plays a network head ready to hit retirement when he is told he must fire network news anchor and long-time friend Howard Beale (Oscar winner for this role, Peter Finch). Beale's nationally-televised response is hilarious and gives rise to a series of televised rants, including one of the most famous moments in movie history, the "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!". It isn't long after that Beale has become a national TV sensation.
As great as this moment is, the rest of the film is hardly ever mentioned (though it did secure a spot in AFI's Top 100 Films of all time) despite sizzling performances by Faye Dunaway (in an Oscar-winning role) as the television-obsessed Diana Christensen, Robert Duvall as the "take no prisoners" Frank Hackett, Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen (in THE smallest part to ever garner a Best Supporting Actor nomination), Beatrice Straight (who also won an Oscar) as Holden's wife, and Marlene Warfield as the "[.....] Commie ______" Laureen Hobbs!
I urge you to rent first, then buy one of the greatest American satires ever made and winner of 4 Oscars (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay) and nominee for 6 more (including Best Picture, Director and Cinematography)... "Network".
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eerily anticipates reality TV..., March 31, 2006
By 
Cubist (United States) - See all my reviews
Network is a savage satire about how everything on television, including the news, is governed by ratings. By the time this movie had been made network news had already declined significantly in quality since the heady days of Edward R. Murrow.

Paddy Chayefsky's great screenplay, coupled with Sidney Lumet's excellent direction zeroes in on exactly what is wrong with television and news in particular. Content and objectivity are often sacrificed for sensational stories that will draw in more viewers. One executive (Dunaway) even suggests following a group of bank robbers/terrorists, chronicling their weekly exploits, like, as she puts it, "Joseph Stalin and his merry band of Bolsheviks."

Network underlines the root problem which is money. Everything is driven by it and this begins to change not only how the news is reported but what exactly is being covered. Among many things, the film eerily anticipates such current trends as reality television making it as relevant today as it was back then.

On the Network DVD there is a commentary by Sidney Lumet. He says that the film is about corruption. . Lumet does not think of the film as a satire and points out that everything in it, except for the ending, has already happened. This is another solid track from Lumet who, among other topics, talks about how the quality of network news has gone downhill.

There is a theatrical trailer.

"The Making of Network" consists of six featurettes that can be viewed separately or altogether. This doc examines how all the major players (Lumet, Finch, Holden, etc.) got involved. Finch's famous monologue, in which he proclaims, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" is examined - its origins and how it went on to become a cultural phenomenon. Cast and crew talk about their experiences working on the movie.

"Dinah! With Paddy Chayefsky." Dinah Shore talks with the screenwriter and gushes about the movie. To his credit, Chayefsky comes as very sincere and heartfelt but also funny and very intelligent.

"Private Screenings with Sidney Lumet" features the veteran director being interviewed by Turner Classic Movie's Robert Osbourne. They touch upon Lumet's brief acting career and how he got into directing. Osbourne takes Lumet through his illustrious film career and gets the director to give his impressions of some of the actors he has worked with. This is a very pleasant and engaging conversation.
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59 of 77 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars TERRIBLE TRANSFER OF A HOLLYWOOD MASTERPIECE, April 15, 2003
By 
Nix Pix (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Network (DVD)
The film which introduced us to the now legendary quotation, "I'm as made as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore," Sidney Lumet's "Network" is a scathingly brilliant and ominously accurate prediction of what network television circa 2004 (in particular the news division) has become.

When stalwart television news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) suffers an on air mental breakdown he is encouraged to continue ranting as "the angry prophet, denouncing the hypocrisies of our time" in order to boost the network's Nielson ratings. Shifting the focus from hard news to factoid entertainment, the new Howard Beale show is the brain child of Dianne Christensen (Faye Dunaway, marvelously on point as the neurotic programmer). Dianne is an oversexed cutthroat who will stop at nothing to exploit Beale for a thirty share. She usurps Max Schumacher's (William Holden) position as head of the news division and later destroys his life and marriage with the broken promise of a torrid affair.

The cast also includes Robert Duvall as maniacal Frank Hackett, a shrewd corporate executive whose sell out mentality is successful at turning the once prominent art of journalism into its lowest common denominator - sensationalism. In an all too brief though nevertheless poignant performance, the late and very great Beatrice Straight delivers a masterful turn as Max's betrayed wife, Louise. The film's eerie clairvoyance on contemporary television makes it one of the truly outstanding American films of the 1970s.

However, Warner Home Video's import of a previously released MGM DVD is one of the worst DVD transfers I have ever seen. The film is anamorphic widescreen but colors are horribly muted, dull and incredibly faded. Flesh tones are so inaccurate that there's really no point in suggesting any consistency. Either they are a pasty pink or garish orange, but never natural looking. Contrast levels during night scenes are so low and marred by excessive film grain and digital grit that fine detail is not even an issue. Day scenes tend to suffer from over exposure and way too high contrast levels. Light browns, oranges, beiges and flesh tones all exhibit an undistinguished muddiness. There is also an incredible amount of film and digital grain throughout the transfer that makes for a completely unsatisfying viewing experience, no matter the size of your television screen. There is nothing, I repeat - NOTHING, to recommend this visual presentation. The audio is mono, strident and unnatural sounding. There is also background hiss in many of the more quiet scenes. The only extra is a theatrical trailer. This classic needs a complete and meticulous restoration.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing, ingenious piece of filmmaking, March 30, 2006
Sidney Lumet's Network should surely rank among the best American movies of all time. It is a work of staggering brilliance that few pictures could ever achieve. I won't waste time elaborating upon the story suffice to say it concerns a struggling broadcast television network that is willing to do anything to drag itself out fourth place. That includes giving a raging madman his own show to rant and rave over whatever he chooses.

Network is one of those rare movies (like Casablanca) where everything comes together perfectly and serendipitously to produce a wondrous work of art. The director, Sidney Lumet, had just come of the success of Dog Day Afternoon, another classic, and knocks it completely out of the park. Of course, he's assisted considerably by Paddy Chayefsky's brilliant screenplay and an amazing assortment of actors. The actors have a field day with Chayefsky's juicy dialog, and there is not a single performance in the film that doesn't catch fire. Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert DuVall, and briefly Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight. Every performance is astonishing. The actors give it all they've got as if they'll never have the chance to act again. Dunaway, Finch and Straight all received Oscars for their work, but every actor is phenomenal. Chayefsky's script won a well-deserved original screenplay Oscar, and deservedly so. In fact, Network may be one of the finest screenplays ever written. Those who are seriously interested in pursuing screenwriting as a career would do well to study Chayefsky's script as if it were Divine text.

The film itself could be seen as many things. An indictment of the cutthroat television industry, an indictment of the business world as a whole, a scathing comment of the state of American society, or a scathing comment on the state of the world as a whole. I'd go with the last statement. Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lumet seem to be saying that it's not Peter Finch's Howard Beale who's mad, but the whole of mankind. As Ned Beatty's Arthur Jensen says, "There are no nations; there are no peoples. There is only one holistic system of systems; one vast, interwoven, interacting, multivaried, multinational dominion of dollars." What value is human life when there's a profit to be made? It was true in 1976 and it's just as true today, perhaps even more so. Network is not a satire, but a mirror showing just how screwed-up human beings are. For two hours, it forces us to take a look at the sad state of affairs that we humans are living in. A madhouse of our own devise. But there's nothing we can do about it. It's depressing, yes. All we can really do is stand up and say "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore". Not that it will do any good, but it helps to get it out of our systems.

Network may have been unbelievable in 1976, but it seems more realistic with each passing year. Today, thirty years later, the only unbelievable thing that I see about Network is that it lost Best Picture to Rocky. I guess that says a lot about people too.
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Network (BD) [Blu-ray]
Network (BD) [Blu-ray] by Sidney Lumet (Blu-ray - 2012)
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