Saturday, May 1, 2010

Good Night, and Good Luck

Watching Good Night, and Good Luck directed by George Clooney was an amazing experience. The story showcases the conflict between the veteran journalist Edward R. Murrow, played by David Strathairn and the Senator Joseph Mccarthy over the witch-hunt of Communists carried out by the Senator and his Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Now as a story, this did not appeal greatly to me, nor could I directly identify with the conflict. However, a couple of brilliant speeches given by Murrow in the movie, albeit in a different context, hold very true for television, media and the kind of reporting that we see today all around us. And so just as a reference I am reproducing a few parts of what Murrow so brilliantly said in the movie here and highlighting what I do believe is truly relevant and though provoking.
""No one familiar with the history of his country, can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating. But the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one, and the Junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been confusing the public mind as between the internal and the external threats of communism. We must not confuse dissent from disloyalty. We must remember always, that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another, we will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason. If we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, we will remember we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who dared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular. This is no time for men who oppose Sen. McCarthy's methods to keep silent or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom wherever it still exists in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of the Junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his, he didn't create this situation of fear, he merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right, the fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves. Good night, and good luck ""

And then there is the speech given by Murrow to the Radio and Television News Directors Association in 1958, where he talks the power and inded the potential that television has to inform and educate the public which you can read it in full here . I am reproducing below small parts of it,  which comes in IMDB's memorable quotes about this speech :

"" It is my desire if not my duty to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening in radio and television, and if what I say is responsible, I alone am responsible for the saying of it. Our history will be what we make of it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred year from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes of one week of all three networks, they will there find, recorded in black and white and in color, evidence of decadence, escapism, and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. We are are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable, and complacent. We have a built in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information; our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses, and recognize that television, in the main, is being use to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture, too late. ................. ""
Fascinating indeed, and most of it is true even in today's day and age.
The other remarkable part of the film is that it is in Black and White. Every now and again it is refreshing to see a movie in Black and White and just like Schindler's List, this too is a visually superb experience.
It goes without saying that I strongly recommend you to watch this movie.
Trivia: The famous concluding catch phrase "Good Night and Good Luck" that is the title of the film, was a habit Edward R. Murrow kept from his London years as a war reporter for the radio, when British people under constant night German bombing systematically ended their conversations with the very same words, uncertain to meet again.  (Source IMDB)
Right then, as Mr Murrow used to say - Good Night, and Good Luck.

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