Unlike the other two films seen in class, Shattering Glass is a full on movie rather than a documentary. Ultimately this works in its favor. Telling this particular story through the eyes of the characters makes what is ultimately a tale of journalistic fraud seem exciting. It feels and looks dramatic and the events depicted have actual weight. For both Page One and Helvetica, being a documentary was the most efficient and possibly the most effective way to get the message across, but it was also rather dull. Glass is much easier to pay attention to as it is trying to tell a story and does so rather well.
Stephen Glass as a character is very well done. When you first see him and hear the opening monologue he seems normal, maybe even like a good guy. However, it does not take long to realize there’s something else going on. The way he talks and the things we see (particularly the use of the phrases ‘Are you mad at me?’, ‘It’s probably nothing’, and ‘It’s in my notes’) quickly tip you off that he’s playing some game. As time goes on, Glass only becomes more and more unlikable as his lies are torn apart and revealed that by the end you feel the urge to clap along with the staff after he’s been ousted.
The other characters are also very well done and blend well with the story and with the illusion of it being an actual newsroom. Seeing their actions and reactions puts a rather serious perspective on the events. You get the feeling that what’s going on is serious and could affect other people’s lives. You understand that what they’re going through hurts. You end up worried for the future of the New Republic and its staff and hating Glass for putting them all at risk. If it were done as a normal documentary then all it would be is events that happened a long time ago recounted to you through interviews. Having it told explicitly as a story humanizes the events and lends them much more power.
I remember the story of Shattering Glass. I remember Stephen’s recounting of his articles, the changing of the editors, the fraud first being discovered, Chuck firing Stephen. I can replay the scenes in my head because they were so memorable. Page One and Helvetica I barely remember at all. One attempted to craft a narrative behind it, but still boiled down to simple interviews. The other wasn’t anything BUT interviews and the information they were trying to convey was often lost in the fight to keep interest.
Ultimately, Shattering Glass does what it sets out to do masterfully. It tells the story of how a prominent magazine was damaged by a fraudulent journalist. It does so while making the story as entertaining as any fictional drama. The result is a very memorable movie that shines light on a rather dark period of the New Republic and how they made it through. Definitely the best out of the three movies we’ve seen in this class.