I have already spoken about how strangely prophetic many of the finest speeches in Cinema now feel, most notably in my last post about Charlie Chaplin’s amazing monologue from the Great Dictator.
However, you could not talk about unforgettable scenes and speeches in Cinema without mentioning the 1976 movie Network that still resonates today. Network is about a TV news anchor called Howard Beale who is played fantastically by Peter Finch and with low ratings, breaks down on national TV and announces he will commit suicide live on air.
Wandering from the script, the character ignores the teleprompter and lets out all of his frustrations of the world in which he lives before ranting “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” and urges all viewers to open their windows and do the same.
Once again this speech feels more relevant now than its release nearly 40 years ago and seems to predict the world we live in today which is filled with reality TV, tabloid journalism and the overwhelming direction that media in general is taking with its “anything for ratings” philosophy.
The Character Howard Beale gave the following speech in Network that still resonates today.
“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’