Review of Network (1976)

Moving picture, 121 minutes

“The Death Hour!” An old American TV anchorman cracks when he learns he’s going to be fired for bad ratings. He promises to commit suicide on the air, and thus attracts public interest for another appearance where he gives the people an angry voice, deeply critical of the media. He becomes an icon, zealous to the point where he collapses after each damning sermon. The company he works for exploits the anti-establishment phenomenon, willingly undermining itself for ratings but eventually warping the prophet, crushing his desperate will. A vicious program designer tries to hire communist terrorists to make another hit show for the same network, itself engulfed in big-eats-small capitalism.

Epic satire. A lot more prophetic than Phantom of the Paradise (1974). The demagogue writing and acting are very good, but only the parts concerning Beale, the terrorists and the corporations are interesting. The irrelevant romantic and tragic personal problems of other people have too much screen time. Slow as a result.

References here: The King of Comedy (1982), Dance of Death (1983), Zeitgeist (2007), Fifteen Million Merits (2011).

moving picture fiction