Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 29th, 2015
BluRay released: March 23rd, 2015
Approximate running time: 121 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
Synopsis: Instead of firing him after an outburst on network television, a news anchorman is given a second chance by his employers who want to drive their ratings by feeding off of his insecurities and exploiting his cynical views.
Network was directed by Sidney Lumet whose other notable films include, 12 Angry Men, The Fugitive Kind, Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. Key collaborators on Network include screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky (The Hospital, Altered States) and cinematographer Owen Roizman (The French Connection, The Exorcist).
The narrative for Network revolves around a cast of characters whom all worked at a fictional fourth television network referred to in the film as UBS. And in the film, very much like in reality it was yet another fourth network that was in last place behind the three more established networks. In a Hail Mary attempt to save the network a forward thinking executive named Diana Christensen who heads the network’s programming department, she concocts an idea for a T.V. show to star Howard Beale the recently disgraced newsman who was fired from UBS for declaring he would be committing suicide on air two weeks from the moment he announced that he was fired. At first this new program starring Howard Beale “The mad prophet of the air waves” it huge successes as it initially achieves historic ratings. Unfortunately as time goes on all good things much come to an end and Beale’s own dismiss as a television personality comes about when he public attacks the wrong person.
Besides a meticulously constructed narrative, another area where this film excels are it richly defined characters. And the exceptional performances from the cast members portraying said characters, this film would receive five nominations in acting categories and would win three of these nominations. Of course the performance that everyone is drawn too and remembers the most is Peter Finch (Sunday Bloody Sunday) in the role of Howard Beale. He gives an utterly convincing performance that has just the right amount of pathos. The film’s other key performance comes from Faye Dunaway (Chinatown) in the role of Diana Christensen, a career oriented character who is determined to get to the top of her profession.
From a production stand point there is not an area where this film is lacking as the friction is rock slid and the film’s distinctive use of lighting is another one of its strengths. Also there are no issues with pacing as things move along rather quickly from one moment to the next. Favorite moments include, the scene where Howard Beale’s character coins the catch phrase, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” and the other standout scene being the moment where Beale is taken into a empty boardroom and put in his place by the chairman of the company that he works for.
In terms of media and entertainment, so much has changed since Network was unleashed on unsuspecting audiences five decades ago. Now there is the internet which helps spread the word about any event as fast as someone can type said inf. And when it comes to televised news things have actually shifted more towards the format the fictional ‘Howard Beale show’ depicted in Network. For toady’s media it is not just good enough to relay current events as they happen. With the bottom line coming back to ratings and revenues from said ratings. And though the film original sets itself up as a satire of the television news industry, to merely categorize this film as a satire would be doing it great disservice. Network is one of those rare moments of cinema clarity where everything just comes together.
Network comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source used for this transfer is in great shape, black levels fare well and contrast levels remain consistently strong throughout. And though the image generally looks crisp, there are a handful of moments where the image looks softer than it does for the majority of the film. And this is most likely due to the intended look of the film, then something lacking in regards to this transfer. Grain looks natural, there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono in English and removable English SDH subtitles have been included with this release. Range wise this track delivers and the end result is sure to please the majority of viewers. Also there are no issues with background hiss or distortion ad everything sounds balanced and dialog always comes through clearly.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 17 seconds), ‘Tune in Next Tuesday’ a visual essay by Dave Itzkoff, the author of Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies (47 minutes 6 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen) and a 1999 documentary titled ‘The Directors: Sidney Lumet’ (59 minutes 38 seconds).
The documentary titled ‘The Directors: Sidney Lumet’ is a career overview that covers all of his films up to Gloria. Topics covered in the visual essay titled ‘Tune in Next Tuesday’ include, the origins of the project and how screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky was allowed by NBC to observe the inter-working’s of a T.V. network, the screenplay, Sidney Lumet, the cast, the look of the film, critical reaction to the film, academy awards that it won and its legacy.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a forty page booklet with cast & crew credits, two essays, the first essay titled ‘A Very Humane Manifesto’ written by Mike Sutton and the second essay titled ‘The American TV System’, an interview with cinematographer Owen Rozman titled ‘Network and How it was Photographed’ and information about the transfer. Overall Network gets a first rate release from Arrow Academy.