There is a certain classiness when it comes to movies shot in black-and-white. Taking a few of the ones I’ve watched: Casablanca, The Longest Day, Shichinin no samurai, Psycho, Twelve Angry Men, Dr. Strangelove… somehow the overall feel, the blending of the colours (or lack of them) seems to lend a stark realism to the movie; even a passion thats not easily matched. Take Bogart’s lines, or Scott’s outburst; or even Seller’s zany Doctor – an undefinable something is added from the grey of the frame.
Clooney’s Oscar nominated ‘Good Night, and Good Luck.‘ is a throwback to an era where drama, story, acting held centrestage. Passion was visible from the aura of the actor; not just the music, the costumes, and the colour. The story of the “war” between honest Murrow and the fanatical McCarthy is not, ideally, great film material. But the movie brings out the feelings in America in the 1950s – the taboo of communism, the slow idea of how powerful TV really is entering the consciousness – perfectly.
McCarthy went on a witchhunt in America of 1950s searching for Communists amongst the nooks and crannies of the world. Many people were persecuted, quite a few without reason.. and it took the collective force of the media to expose it for the mindless mania that it was. Murrow headed the attack with the grand-daddy of TV shows.. and this is what Clooney shows. The chaos that is the newsroom, the personal battles that lie within the glossy TV screen, the motivation that made these people tick.
Making it in black-and-white really takes you back to the era, and the almost-documentary feel of the movie adds to the idea that he has tried to convey. Using original McCarthy footage to actually play the Senator really slams it all in your face.. and this is where the lack of colour makes it all the more believable. Clooney’s eye for detail adds too.. the way Murrow shoots, the ads.. all the small things are there.
Murrow’s character is etched beautifully by Strathairn, in fact, every role is played perfectly.. the only complaint one could have is the length – you want more at the end. The final lines about a tube-box are a blistering indictment to what we have made the television today.. and every word rings true.
Admittedly, can be construed as boring, or a docu, or just too plain… but black-and-white is not for everyone.
You have to be able to see “grey” to really love it.