TSPDT Greatest Films #324 Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
Going on with his analysis of the effects of television on the world, Sidney Lumey after what I consider a near masterpiece; Dog Day Afternoon, offers this time with Network the other side of the subject; the television's side of the subject. Without any technical extravaganza like many of hs colleagues of the 70's Lumet shot his films like documentaries. They feel true.
This is the story of Howard Beal (Peter Finch) considered like a "has-been" of television, his show is in complete downfall in the numbers as his popularity. One day the announces he's gonna kill himself on air. The day after he's not doing it but he claims that he has enough and he wants changes. At this point his shiow began the bet thing on television because he's true to the viewers and he's like the "prophet" of telelvision. He speaks for the middle class american that has enough of the hypocrites that lead the world.
With a solid cast of Faye Dunaway (who won an Oscar for her performance), Peter Finch (he won an Oscar too), William Holden and Robert Duval.
The film is based on religious grounds because Lumet translated religion to television in his film. They just needed the right lead to carry their speach. Many dialogues referenced religius concerns. Made in 1976, Network is still carrying a message that should be listened. Television is the tool to endoctrinate people and sell any stupid product like the "Slap Chop". Everybody is glued every evenings on their chairs in front of their television sets like believers. All the stores always offers bigger screens, better, thinner etc. for the living room so that all the furniture will be pointed at the new idol...
Well, I'm one of them and you probably are too because you watch films/sports/series on your tv set. Television is the new religion, so Sidney Lumet said. This is a strong cinematic effort from this excellent filmmaker.
A Film Retrospective by Michaël Parent