Monday, October 30, 2006

Good Night and Good Luck (2005)

In all my blissful ignorance I have to say I went in to this film pretty much blind. I knew it was about the McCarthy era. I knew it was directed by George Clooney. I knew it was in black and white. Now that I've watched it, I wish I'd known a little more about the story it was trying to tell.

I feel like I only picked up around 1/3 of the plot, and a much lower proportion of the insinuations and the undercurrents. This was a complex film - in all the right ways. So I'm not going to try and tell the plot in miniature here. That isn't what this blog is for. It's to force me to think about what I watch, what it means, how it is put together - why it was made here, now (or there, then).

Good Night and Good Luck is beautifully filmed. The quality of the monochrome is silky; it's almost tangible. I don't know if that is due to a particular photographic process or because we're so used to seeing only the poorer quality of old black and white films. This smoothness seems to help the viewer skim over the 'bumpiness' of the film. It helps to ease some of the tension generated by the immensely politically dangerous situation that the journalists and their families find themselves in.

That is what struck me most about the film. It wasn't really about the 'big politics' of the history it was trying to convey what it meant to the individuals to be pushing the (at the time very limited) boundaries of free speech in a supposedly 'free' society. It made me think about the extent that a true 'thought police' existed in America at that time. If you spoke out you lost your job, possibly your family and your home. The men depicted decided that it was worth putting their livelihoods and in some sense lives on the line to give the public a chance to see the other side of the argument.

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