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Network, a 1976 satirical drama film, is considered one of the most iconic movies of all time for its incisive commentary on the media landscape and the fallacies that have seeped into the industry. Directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Paddy Chayefsky, the movie features an ensemble cast comprising of veteran actors like Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall. The movie's themes and message remain highly relevant even after four decades since its release, and its uncompromising portrayal of the ethical conundrums that plague the journalistic world continues to prompt discussions and debates among movie aficionados.

The story revolves around a distressed news anchor at UBS Network, Howard Beale (Peter Finch), who is on the verge of a mental breakdown after receiving news of his layoff due to dwindling ratings. In an unexpected turn of events, Beale goes rogue during the live broadcast, declaring his intention to commit suicide on air. However, instead of taking the extreme step, he launches an impassioned speech, compelling viewers to tune in and listen to his grievances. This turns out to be a game-changer, and UBS Network's CEO, Max Schumacher (William Holden), latches on to Beale as a means of increasing ratings.

The movie quickly shifts gears and delves into the behind-the-scenes machinations that happen at the network as it aims to leverage Beale's newfound fame. The ruthless and calculating programming head, Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway), sees Beale as an opportunity to launch new shows, increase profits, and get back at her competitors. As such, she cajoles Schumacher into giving Beale an extended platform to air his grievances, even if that means fanning the flames of his impending mental breakdown.

Meanwhile, Beale's ramblings and rants, which are laced with hints of conspiracy theories and anti-establishment sentiments, start getting a cult-like following across America. His raw and unfiltered messages, which range from advocating for societal change to railing against the ills of capitalism, resonate with a disillusioned populace, several of whom start getting involved in grassroots activism. In the movie's climax, the situation spirals out of control, culminating in a shocking and unforgettable finale that underscores the lengths to which media companies are willing to go to capture their audience's attention.

The movie's writing deserves special mention for its nuanced portrayal of the different characters and its incisive commentary on contemporary issues. The filmmakers do not shy away from taking digs at the corporate culture that has engulfed the media world, transforming it into a ruthless and inhumane industry where ratings and profits dictate everything. The movie also highlights the ethical compromises that happen, especially when journalists and anchors are forced to choose between their integrity and catering to the whims of their bosses.

The movie's direction and cinematography are top-notch, with Sidney Lumet bringing his vast experience and expertise to bear. The screenplay, which won Paddy Chayefsky an Academy Award, is filled with punchy one-liners, witticisms, and barbs that cut through the veneer of modern society. The cast also delivers top-class performances, especially Peter Finch, whose portrayal of the tortured and manic Beale remains an iconic piece of acting. Faye Dunaway too is a revelation, playing the part of the ruthless programming head to perfection.

In conclusion, Network is an essential watch for anyone looking for insightful commentary on the media landscape and its related ethical conundrums. The movie's themes and message remain highly relevant in today's world, and its incisive portrayal of the lengths media companies are willing to go to capture their audience's attention continues to prompt discussions and debates. For its sharp writing, excellent direction, and stellar performances, Network undoubtedly deserves its place among the greatest films ever made.

Network is a Drama movie released in 1976. It has a runtime of 121 minutes. Critics and viewers have rated it mostly positive reviews, with an IMDb score of 8.1. It also holds a MetaScore of 83.

How to Watch Network

Where can I stream Network movie online? Network is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Network for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Sidney Lumet
Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty, Beatrice Straight
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