Michael Mann’s 1999 drama tells the volatile true story of Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe), a corporate officer and the head scientist at Brown & Williamson tobacco company, who is working to amplify the addictive properties of nicotine. Lowell Bergman (Pacino, at his best) is a 60 Minutes producer, mostly for Mike Wallace (Plummer), who convinces Wigand to disclose shattering revelations. However, as corporate interests collide with CBS News journalistic imperatives, and as Wigand’s family implodes under the pressure of a corporate smear campaign and litigation designed to destroy his life, Bergman ruptures the bonds with his closest colleagues to battle the show on air and to defend an increasingly antagonistic Wigand. The Insider is at once a captivating procedural about prestige media changing the game and a potent thriller, viscerally immersing us within ordinary, flawed lives in extraordinary circumstances. Wigand would become the central witness in the $206 billion tobacco settlement. To commemorate the film’s 20th anniversary, Mann has facilitated a gift of the film to MoMA’s collection, and he will participate in a conversation following the screening.
The Insider. 1999. USA. Directed by Michael Mann. With Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer. 35mm. 157 min.