Satire is a tricky genre. Go in too hard and too straight and you risk ending up like some dreadful university medical student stage show. Even if you get it spot on there’s a danger that it won’t be future proof and that a few years later the object of your satire has evolved to the point where your original masterpiece falls flat.
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
Sidney Lumet’s Network suffers from both problems but chiefly from the second. Perhaps it was an astonishing thing in 1976 to highlight the trend of network television to be driven by money and ratings at every level, even in the supposedly factual news department, but today in the age of Fox and the huge number of competing cable channels this is, well, not very interesting at all. Imagine a two hour film making it clear just how cynical and money orientated TV evangelists have become. It would be a pointless satire because everyone already knows what’s going on. And in 2016 the same thing is true about network television channels. No one mistakes them for an impartial public service.
Review continues below...
Inspire your baby with the Visual Baby series of picture ebooks. Original patterns and art designed for young eyes. Try them today by clicking the covers below.
"It's the only thing that stops her crying" Katie Alison
"All three of my children love this book" Janice Peterson
"Moons, trees, leaves... fabulous!" Linda Matson
Dan Gilroy’s recent Nightcrawler is a much more interesting film covering this area because it focuses on what the relentless search for sensation and gore does to the human beings involved, while keeping the satire about our appetite for this stuff much more low key since this is presented as the background of the story rather than its direct subject.
‘You're television incarnate, Diana,’ says a character in Network during one of its many long expository speeches. And sure enough, Diana is television incarnate. That’s the beginning and end of her role and that gives an idea of the sophistication of the satire in this film.Perhaps it hit its mark forty years ago but these days it’s just boring.
Personal Score: 1/10
This is part of a series of film reviews where I give my comments on IMDB Top 250 films as a writer. The idea is that over time these posts will build into a wide-ranging writing resource.
For more details about the approach I've taken, including some important points about its strengths and weaknesses (I make no claims about my abilities as a film critic or even the accuracy of my comments... but I do stand by the value of a writer's notes on interesting films), see my introductory post here.