This is a way of making docudrama that is highly essential and elegant at the same time, or maybe it should be called a documentary with dramatizations and illustrations. Regardless, there is a perfect balance between digitally restored footage from the actual events, or the time, in a combination of very credible pockets of drama, but even also still photos from both showing the participants either as actors in carfully selected situations or the orginal statesmen and their assistans, creating illustrations of the sobriety and strainfulness of solving all problems and demands in this first global peace conference. The actors basically also look like the originals, which is helpful. All this is interwined by a brilliant narration, together with well chosen quotes, again perfectly adapted to the footage, and explaining the matters so that anyone should understand, but without in any way making it banal to the scholared. Maybe it just can't be made much better than this, and Paris 1919 should be mandatory in history lessons everywhere, but also every parliament.
This is one of those films that really means something, and so important that it stands its ground and the test of time, even more than 20 years after its release. Very few films fit that discription. The true story and the article that The Insider is based on is so fundamental that it has lead to a radical worldwide change in how a certain product is produced, or at least distributed, and even the film alone made its contribution in this matter. In addition the plot is a dive into the ruthlessness of big business and media corporations, where the situation has become even worse since then. This makes it not just a film drama, but also a historical document. Regardless of this, when the performances from top and well known actors are at such a level that you forget that its not reality you're watching, but actualy just a fictiionalized version of it, that's when film making is where it ideally should be. Then it becomes magic, and director Michael Mann and his crew must certainly have felt this during the rehersals and shootings. Main role holder Russell Crowe probably does his best ever performance, so credible that we forget that he is acting. He truly becomes the character, something that always is prior for making the best films. Even Al Pacino, who usually delivers some ultimate version of himself, steps out and into this bubble, and the interaction between him and Crowe is outstanding. It's all so convincing that the late Christopher Plummer just might fool you to believe that it really is Mike Wallace playing himself. On top of that Bruce McGill has a verbal anger outburst so convincing that the actors receiving it literally get scared. Also Mike Moore becomes a good actor by playing himself. All in all there is nothing negative to say about this film, and it gets even better the second time around.
This film is overrated, not highly, but it got all too much attention prior to and during it's release, which there naturally is no prohibition against, it's only unfair against other and better productions or performers. Media was going wild about Robert De Niro as Al Capone, followed up by a new star in the making, the then so adorable Kevin Costner, but also that Sean Connory wasn't such a bad actor, truly getting rid of his Bond label. No disrespect for the late Scotsman, but there were others who deserved an Oscar for best supporting actor, but it was his, half as a token for him surprising people, and the rest due to the general hype psychosis. However, that's nothing new in Hollywood. The Untouchables is a solid fictional gangster film based on a certain part of history, nothing more. Still, there are two exceptions that should be named artistically great, the railway station shoot-out, which was a tribute to the Odessa Steps montage in Sergei Eisenstein's famous 1925 silent movie Battleship Potemkin. Also, any film gets better when Ennio Morricone makes the music score.