Saturday, February 13, 2010

The perfectly outrageous motion picture

I've had the most fantastic past two hours watching Sidney Lumet's 1976 film Network. I don't intend to write a review of the film here - I'm speechless right now, to be honest - and I've had similar feelings after watching three of my all-time favourite films, Sunset Boulevard, Shawshank Redemption and The Clockwork Orange.

Network inevitably adds to that list.

A common thread between all three films is that after I've seen the film, I've felt richer - in emotion, intellect and wisdom - thanks to powerful screenplay writing. The performances are equally astounding and Network is far more closer to life than I imagined, thanks my own closeness in some manner to the working of the television and media industry.

And would you believe it...when I begun watching the film, I thought it was the original of Ram Gopal Varma's Rann. Thank God, it isn't. It can't be.

I'm pasting below some lines from the film. Each line is self explanatory and can be etched in gold. I do not need to explain the context in which they were told. They're statements by themselves, a quality which timeless screenplays have always had, apart from being able to project and predict a future which we now live in. I think this is why some lines are called classics.


"I want you to get mad. I don't want you to protest, I don't want you to riot, I don't want you to write to your Congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression, the inflation, the Russians, or the crime in the streets. All I know is that first... You've got to get mad." - Howard Beale, the lead protagonist in Network (A video of this dialogue will do complete justice to this piece. So here's the link.)

"Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those *are* the nations of the world today." - Arthur Jansen, promoter of the network, to Howard Beale

"I was married for four years, and pretended to be happy; and I had six years of analysis, and pretended to be sane. My husband ran off with his boyfriend, and I had an affair with my analyst, who told me I was the worst lay he'd ever had. I can't tell you how many men have told me what a lousy lay I am. I apparently have a masculine temperament. I arouse quickly, consummate prematurely, and can't wait to get my clothes back on and get out of that bedroom. I seem to be inept at everything except my work. I'm goddamn good at my work and so I confine myself to that. All I want out of life is a 30 share and a 20 rating." - Diana Christensen, programming head of UBS Television

"It's too late, Diana. There's nothing left in you that I can live with. You're one of Howard's humanoids. If I stay with you, I'll be destroyed. Like Howard Beale was destroyed. Like Laureen Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You're television incarnate, Diana: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays. You're madness, Diana. Virulent madness. And everything you touch dies with you. But not me. Not as long as I can feel pleasure, and pain... and love." - Max Schumacher, Diana's lover and retrenched newsroom editor of UBS Television
There are many more memorable lines and I suggest you watch the film to get a sense of what I'm talking about.

For starters, here's a link to its official trailer.