Sunday, November 27, 2005

"Good Night, and Good Luck." film review

I urge everyone to check out this excellent, thought-provoking film about truth and fearlessness in media, produced by George Clooney, if you haven't already. It's at the Grandview 2 Theater through Thursday at least, and coming soon to the Riverview Theater. A strong depiction of the 50's media as the beginning of the end, the future to come in truth in reporting, and censorship by corporate advertisers and powers that be. CBS Reporter Edward R. Murrow, (brilliantly played by David Strathairn) and his news team, decides to take on Sen. Joe McCarthy and his campaign against Communism, his witchhunt and scare tactics and lies, randomly labelling people such as those engaged in public dissent, and members of immigrant families, as threats to National Security, bearing uncanny resemblance to events today.

In spite of threat to their journalist positions. amidst accusations of lacking neutrality, military warnings, and pulling out by large corporate advertisers such as agriculture company ALCOA, (at one point funding the ads out of their own pockets) they maverickly do an expose of a man who lost his military job as his Serbian father and sister were suspected of being Communists. To keep it balanced they offer airtime spots for anyone to correct them, or say their side of the story. It escalates to the point where Sen. Joe McCarthy takes them up on the offer, only to hang himself by not only not once countering any of Murrow's points ("since he didn't say anything I said was in error, they aren't errors"), and making false accusations of reporter Murrow's afiliations with Communist entities, such as the Industrial Workers of the World, and a socialist author who dedicated his book to Murrow. Murrow said of this: "We talk to each other but I don't agree with his politics. I am not a socialist. He dedicated the book to me because he respected my wartime reporting from London. We can talk to everyone in the world without becoming contaminated or converted."

Inevitably he and other members of his team get shunted to poor timeslots and lose their jobs as a result of their tenacious dedication to revealing a public wrongfully bullied by the system.

There are many fantastic points in this film about the powerful vehicle of television to educate vs. entertain and feed apathy, and about the control corporations have over broadcasting news that may make people feel uncomfortable. Murrow's speeches on the role of journalism, and truth and fearlessness in media and its responsibility to the general public are powerfully inspiring. The grainy black and white film, and the actual footage of McCarthy make it all the more real and intensely compelling.

Clooney's on a roll, fast becoming a favorite bold director -- his next film Syriana, opens in December. There's an interesting article about the making of the film, here: Washington Post

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