As a serious lover of film, I try to see as many of the reputed films from all eras as possible. But, there is a limited amount of time to dedicate to this and so there will inevitably be a list of guilty omissions. One glaring omission, until recently, had been Sydney Lumet’s Network. It is now streaming on Netflix and the transfer looks amazing.

Chances are, whether or not you have seen the film, you are familiar with the following scene.

 

It is certainly a memorable scene and a memorable line from a script that is packed full of memorable lines. Paddy Chayefsky’s script, while maybe a little over-written, is filled with fast, slick dialogue and would be a pleasure to listen to by itself. But, you won’t listen to it by itself because the accompanying visuals are magnificent (and again the visuals are further celebrated with the awesome transfer in the HD version on Netflix).

The thing that struck me the most  is how translatable the sentiment is to today. I think Network is largely taking a stab at the personalitites behind TV but it also accompanied by an overall ideological satire of the TV culture. It is similar to how Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death is as pertinent today as it was in 1985. Maybe it is a symptom of the short, historic attention span of Americans (or all humans I suppose) but I think it is important to regularly question our modes of taking in information. This is true today and apparently people thought the same thing decades ago. Questioning is especially important, in the current Presidential campaign, as we have 3-minute sound bites ball-gagged into out willing mouths, we mistake digestible narratives as serious discourse on the complexities of economy, foreign policy, and social issues.

This is why Network is such a timeless and timely movie. It reminds us of the importance of questioning, and not just taking for granted, the narratives given to us by faceless authors with a pen and a camera. They are certainly in the “boredom killing business” and it even seems that maybe our Apple-Facebook-DVR-Commenting-PushNotification-Liking-Lives have become a daily “boredom killing business.”