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The Insider

direction: michael mann Screenplay: Eric Roth, Michael Mann

Published: Wednesday 15 August 2001

-- COMPLEMENTING the book (Question of Intent) without being repetitive is the film The Insider which completes behind the scene of the life of an insider and gives a true picture of the mafia-like operations of the tobacco industry. It clearly depicts the fear psychosis that big sharks develop to silence any individual who fights against their profit motive. Also, how money takes over media and in turn democracy.

The Insider is a story of profit motive tobacco industry and a man who decides to expose their face. It is based on the real life story of Jeffery Wigand, a senior research executive at Brown and Williamson tobacco company where his research focuses on increasing addictive effect of nicotine in cigarettes. The company was doing this against the public statement made by its CEO to the US Congress. He was fired soon after he insisted removal of coumarin, a tobacco additive from all products. A confidentiality agreement, which threatened to destroy him financially, prevented him from talking to anyone about his work at the company.

Lowell Bergman, a producer of 60 Minutes, a current affairs programme of the CBS network, discovers Wigand and forces him to reveal the insider knowledge of tobacco industry. His aim is to secure Wigand's testimony that the seven dwarfs (the seven CEOs of big tobacco) were fully aware of the dangers of smoking when they testified to anti-tobacco court. At a crucial moment CBS refuses to air the segment because of a lawsuit threat by Brown & Williamson. While the events themselves are interesting, the character aspect is nothing less than utterly gripping. The interplay between a nervous Wigand and an aggressive Bergman is startling. The story treatment is excellent especially in shaping a purely accidental and haphazard real-life story into a concise framework. By the end, when Bergman and Wigand become a reflection of each other -- each being a whistleblower in his own right and creating a flutter in their industry.

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