A selection of interesting films on manipulation and fake news
On this Sunday morning, we assembled a collection of interesting films that cast a spotlight on manipulation and fake news in the media and their impact on society. These films show the journalistic quandary: to convey the truth or alter it in some way for a specific purpose.
You – on an ordinary Sunday morning
You – when you find out that Behind the News has prepared a selection of interesting films on manipulation and fake news in the media
Let’s also remember to extend our support and throw in a couple of bucks to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who enable us to enjoy the privilege of visiting the cinema. Are you ready? Now, brew a nice cup of tea, and let’s get started!
1. All the President’s Men (1976)
Alan J. Pakula’s film is an adaptation of the real-life account of journalists Bob Woodward, portrayed by Robert Redford, and Carl Bernstein, played by Dustin Hoffman, both from The Washington Post. They embark on an investigation into the Watergate scandal, an inquiry that ultimately precipitates the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon. Their determination leads them to uncover a complex web of political corruption, cover-ups, and illegal activities. This film demonstrates the immense influence wielded by the press, as the publication of their findings plays a pivotal role in the president’s resignation.
2. Spotlight (2015)
This Oscar-winning film narrates the factual chronicle of the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe, a group of investigative journalists led by Walter “Robbie” Robinson, portrayed by Michael Keaton. They investigate allegations of child sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests in the Boston area, uncovering a widespread cover-up orchestrated by the Catholic Church hierarchy. The film focuses on the journalists’ commitment to exposing the truth, despite encountering strong institutional resistance and the manipulation of information within the church and legal systems.
3. Network (1976) directed by Sidney Lumet
This satirical drama immerses you in the world of television news. The narrative revolves around Howard Beale, portrayed by Peter Finch, an unstable news anchor whose on-air outbursts propel him into the status of a “mad prophet” with a cult following. The network capitalizes on Beale’s newfound popularity, transforming news into a form of entertainment and eroding the boundary between truth and sensationalism to bolster ratings. This film exposes the manipulative tendencies of media conglomerates and the growing commercialization of news.
4. Vice (2018)
Adam McKay’s biographical comedy-drama explores the life and political career of Dick Cheney, played by Christian Bale. Cheney, who served as the Vice President of the United States under George W. Bush, is the central focus. The film highlights the role of media and propaganda in shaping public perceptions of political figures and the events connected to them. It provides insight into Cheney’s clandestine influence in shaping policy and steering media narratives throughout his time in office.
5. The Front Runner (2018)
Drawing from a true story, this film tracks the 1988 presidential campaign of Senator Gary Hart, portrayed by Hugh Jackman. It delves into the media’s scrutiny and manipulation that Hart endured when confronted with allegations of an extramarital affair, a scandal that ultimately led to the collapse of his campaign. The film underscores the role of the press in investigating private lives and the evolving landscape of political journalism in the digital age.
6. Front Page: Inside The New York Times (2011)
This documentary offers a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of The New York Times, one of the world’s most renowned newspapers. It provides an insider’s perspective on the challenges confronting journalists in the digital age, including declining revenues and the rise of online news. The film also chronicles the newspaper’s efforts to combat the proliferation of fake news and uphold the principles of journalistic integrity in an ever-changing media landscape.
7. The Great Hack (2019)
Another documentary immerses you in the scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica, a company that used the power of in-depth data analysis from social networks to not only effectively promote products and services to consumers but also orchestrate election campaigns across the globe. The film unveils how data analytics and media manipulation are employed to shape public opinion.
8. Good Night and Good Luck (2005)
Set in the 1950s, this historical drama narrates the story of journalist Edward R. Murrow, portrayed by David Strathairn, as he takes a stand against Senator Joseph McCarthy during the height of the anti-Communist witch hunt. The film highlights Murrow’s commitment to investigative journalism and his fearlessness in challenging government propaganda and fear-inducing tactics.
9. The Ides of March) (2011)
Directed by George Clooney, this political thriller revolves around a high-stakes presidential campaign. The film recounts the story of a young, idealistic press secretary, portrayed by Ryan Gosling, who becomes ensnared in a web of manipulation and propaganda as he tries to understand the backstage maneuverings of political power and the media’s pivotal role in shaping public opinion.
10. State of Play (2009)
In another political thriller, the plot centers on a murder investigation involving government and corporate corruption, spotlighting the struggle that journalists face in their pursuit of the truth.
11. Broadcast News (1987)
In this comedy-drama directed by James L. Brooks, viewers are immersed in the realm of television and radio journalism. The film follows the lives, both personal and professional, of three colleagues: a news producer played by Holly Hunter, a reporter portrayed by Albert Brooks, and an enterprising anchor played by William Hurt. The movie explores the delicate balance between upholding journalistic principles, accuracy, and the moral quandaries in choosing between producing professional news or boosting ratings.
12. The Insider (1999)
The drama, directed by Michael Mann, is based on a true story. It traces the journey of Jeffrey Wiegand, portrayed by Russell Crowe, a former insider of the tobacco industry who transforms into a whistleblower. Wiegand’s revelation of the tobacco industry’s manipulation and deceit regarding the harmful effects of smoking propels him into formidable legal battles and threats to his life.
13. Nightcrawler (2014).
In a thriller directed by Dan Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal portrays Louis Bloom, a freelance cameraman who becomes more and more entangled in the world of crime journalism. As he crosses ethical boundaries to capture breathtaking and sensational footage for sale to news websites, Bloom’s ambition leads to moral deterioration.
The protagonist orchestrates crime scenes and manipulates events to create more gripping stories. This film raises pertinent questions about the role of journalists in shaping public opinion and the potential repercussions of distorting reality for personal gain.
Each of these films offers a distinct perspective of media, journalism, and the challenges confronting truth-seekers and, conversely, those who manipulate information for specific purposes. They encourage us to reflect on the complex world of media and its impact on society. Enjoy your cinema experience!