On a previous Movie Monologue Monday I looked at Peter Finch in Network. Today I’m going to return to Network, this time looking at Ned Beatty’s brilliant and prophetic performance.
There is no America.
There is no democracy.
There is only IBM and ITT, and AT&T, and Du Pont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon.
Those are the nations of the world today.
He is so strong in this scene, his presence is so powerful. How does he achieve this power?
First, is his physicality. His movements are exact. His arms move specifically and deliberately. Notice how firmly his feet are planted on the ground. You get the sense that the NFL’s leading pass rusher would have a hard time knocking Beatty off his feet. He is glued there. This is a great piece to show to actors with an acute case of wander-itis, a condition evidenced by a need to constantly shift the feet when talking.
Second is the emotional and vocal shape of the piece. I think most actors would approach the piece the opposite way – starting from a place of quiet and growing to a climax. But Beatty turns the piece on its head. He is at his quietest at the climax of the speech. He is so still at the end. Even when he’s moving, he is still, if that makes any sense.
The lesson I take from this is that stillness and control = strength.
On a technical note, I love how he’s lit at the end. Completely backlit. All you see is a halo of light around his head like he’s some sort of horrible angel.