What can happen when a company fires a manager who controls "sensitive" information?

Directed by Michael Mann - 1999 - USA - 157 min

The Insider

2024 April 09 | by Arduino Mancini Boss and Staff member - Conflict - Negotiation - Resilience

The film is based on the authentic story of Jeffrey Wigand, R&D vice president of a major U.S. tobacco company.

The manager has a first-class CV, with experience in companies of international standing, and he accepted his job primarily for money; the perspective of a better life for his two little girls, and the happiness that a qualitative leap in daily life would bring to his wife led him not to explore the risks related to the role properly.

But one day Jeffrey is fired and the entire world collapses on him: he will have to rethink his whole life, and the conflict with the company about the confidentiality agreement he signed prompts him to develop a sense of revenge that results in a desire to witness against his former employers.

Key character in the film is also Lowell Bergman, a reporter on the highly followed CBS program Sixty Minutes. He meets Wigang for a consulting session and realizes that he may be an exceptional source and an opportunity for an exclusive story destined to make “noise.”

The former manager decides to release the interview to CBS and witness against the tobacco corporations in a trial being held in Mississippi; the charge is that they lied about the effects of nicotine.

But the road is long and difficult, and corporate resistance proves powerful enough to challenge whether Lowell Bergman and his colleagues can broadcast the Wigand interview.

How does the story unfold?

I think I have told you enough and going further I would spoil the surprise: now watch the trailer, and then we will discuss the most interesting aspects.



How to watch the film

Plenty of interesting aspects. Let’s look at some of them:

  • the discouragement that can seize a manager as he loses his job, even in cases when the overall economic situation does not endanger the family’s life. Interesting that the loss of a job can be so impactful that we may feel lost even when we still have arrows in our bow;
  • anger as a bad advisor. There are several episodes in which the characters, first Jeffrey Wigand, make decisions in anger, without much reflection and without having properly prepared the action: with obvious not favourable;
  • the struggle that Lowell Bergman undertakes with CBS to publish the interview with Wigand even with common interests between the TV network and the tobacco companies;
  • the breach that can be caused in a team when, under pressure from top management, the principles governing its functioning are challenged. A shining example of how personal vision can bring both results and team integrity into question;
  • the role that respect and trust can play in building relationships intended to last for the long run.

In short, it is a film you can watch with interest and discover aspects I may have missed.


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