Watching Good Night, and Good Luck is like seeing the pages of Life magazine, circa 1954, come to life on the screen. George Clooney's original and powerful vision of Edward R. Murrow's confrontation with Senator Joe McCarthy is a work of art. We tend to remember historical events in the light of the visual representations of those events. As the communist witch-hunts unfolded on grainy kinescope television, and on the pages of Life and Look, they burned lasting images into the public mind. We remember them through the pictures.
Clooney, who has enjoyed spectacular mainstream success on television and in the movies, takes a chance here. Shooting in black and white, he illuminates a short period in the anti-communist hysteria that lasted from the end of World War II through the early 1950s. Democratic countries everywhere had a rational and well-reasoned fear of international communism. Dictators like Stalin and Mao were paranoid murderers. Education in those benighted nations descended into loathsome propaganda. Religions were ruthlessly suppressed. Anyone who dissented or tried to escape faced imprisonment, torture and death. It was hard to overstate the evils of communism.
Nonetheless, that's like saying a fear of the Devil justified the burning, garroting and hanging of supposed witches in the Middle Ages. A real fear, distorted by political opportunism, diminishes the public's trust in government and actually opens the door to the very influences that it seeks to repress. Such was the case with Joe McCarthy, whose reckless attacks led to public paranoia and steered the nation toward abandonment of the rule of law and diminished constitutional rights. Good Night, and Good Luck captures the fear and suspicion of the times ...1
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Good Night, and Good Luck
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