Good Night and Good Luck – HD-DVD Review


ARCHIVE: Original Post Date – September 3rd, 2006

The Film

Taking place in the 1950’s, Good Night and Good Luck deals with the impending threat of Communism in the world. Many feared it so much they decided to never speak of it. One Senator in particular, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy used a type of propaganda basically creating this threat of Communism as one of the single biggest threats anyone could face. Ala President Bush, many Americans who wanted to take a stand against McCarthy and his views, decided not to for fear of being called a type of unpatriotic American. It wasn’t until eight members of a CBS radio show, lead by Edward R. Murrow, decided to take a stand against McCarthy. The film, instead of showcasing Murrow’s entire career (and quite the career it was indeed), focuses on this one portion of Murrow’s career. I applaud Clooney for doing this as a character like Murrow would be eventually viewed as a hero for standing up against the power. It just goes to show that sometimes, if you try fight the good fight, the right will prevail.

What makes a film like this so powerful and necessary viewing is not the direction of George Clooney (even though it is rather good), but more the power of the message behind these eight men. In a time of fear and worry in the country, these men stood up as one and decided to take a stand against a man who used fear and his power to take advantage of his audience (sound familiar no)? Subtle little things also make this film’s message powerful. Instead of casting a McCarthy look-a-like to shoot these scenes, Clooney, in a wise move that brings more credibility to the film’s message, used archival footage of McCarthy actually speaking about Communism. After viewing these messages in the film, one can easily see where a certain man may have come up with messages of fear in hopes of winning over an audience.

With this film and Syriana, I wonder if Clooney is going to start making/staring in more and more films with political messages. These two films are pure examples of great cinema. The acting, particular in this film due to it kind of re-telling a story, is not as powerful as Syrinna, but is still quite impressive. With actors like Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels, and the interesting David Strathairn (possibly his best role since L.A. Confidential), Clooney has brought a new message that should be shown to every student in classrooms all over the place. I wouldn’t be surprised if a film of this nature is made about Bush and his similar use of fear in a few decades. After all, as Murrow himself said, “You can’t defend freedom abroad but deserting it here.” I don’t think truer words have ever spoken.

Video Quality

Presented in a 1080p 2:35:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, Good Night and Good Luck is quite possibly the strongest offering from Warner (the only stronger title is The Searchers). Director Clooney’s decision to film in black and white was viewed as a risky decision. After viewing this transfer, I must congratulate him and the folks over at Warner. There is no real strong scene, but more of an entirely strong film. Pause any scene where characters are speaking and walk up to your screen. Look around for any problems. Odds are you won’t find any. What you will find instead if a highly detailed image, so detailed that you may think that your eyes are playing tricks on you. Colors, obviously black and white, are rich, strong and powerful. No real problems with contrasts levels either. Grain is nowhere to be found either. I commented in my review of Ray that that particular film was my demo disc. I may have two now after seeing this transfer. A truly terrific presentation on Warner’s part.

Audio Quality

Due to the nature of this film being mostly dialogue driven, I didn’t expect much in the form of a strong audio track. I never really noticed any strong surrounds or any real activity from the sub, which was very expected since there really isn’t any action or uplifting scenes to speak of in this film. Most impressive is that of the older footage of McCarthy has been cleaned up. This adds a higher level of importance to the message as Clooney wanted us to hear McCarthy’s words in the best possible quality. While there was never really a moment that I had to adjust the volume due to a louder scene, the provided Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Audio Track completes a rather strong V/A presentation by Warner.

Bonus Materials

  • Audio Commentary with Director George Clooney and Producer Grant Heslov: Director Clooney and Producer Heslov sit down for this feature length commentary that is almost as interesting as the actual film itself. Both participants give us a lot of historical information into the actual film and the production of it. I’ve always found Clooney to be quite the interesting fellow, whether he’s acting or just speaking on TV, and he doesn’t shy away from anything here.
  • Good Night and Good Luck: This 15 minute featurette dives into the making of the film and features a few interviews/comments by some of the men who were around during the events that take place in the film.
  • Trailer: Here we get the film’s theatrical trailer.

Closing Thoughts

With an incredibly interesting film, a rather strong visual and audio presentation, Warner continues to deliver impressive titles that demand attention. Good Night and Good Luck comes recommend for those who enjoy historical films. Heck, this film comes recommend for any HD-DVD owner as this is truly terrific stuff; subject and presentation included.

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