(Review originally written at 21 November 2006)

It's already a sort of forgotten subject, the McCarthy-hearings from the early '50's, though it perhaps is one of the blackest pages out of the modern American history in which Senator Joseph McCarthy was exploiting the fears of Americans regarding the communist threat, by (falsly) accusing hundreds of Americans of all social levels (without ever presenting proper evidence) of various Communist activities, on live TV. Nobody dared to oppose him until CBS television journalist Edward R. Murrow and his crew of journalist decided to stand up to him and stop his hearings/investigations by airing opposing documentaries and telling the real 'truth' to the public about McCarthy and the accusations he made.

The fact that this movies dares to touch such a controversial and not much talked about subject is already a reason why the movie is such a fascinating and relevant one to watch. It's a movie about people who dare to stand up to the government and use the powerful tool that media is to do so and deliver its message to the public, fully knowing what the consequences of it for them personally might be. It's inspiring and still applies to certain situations this present day.

Clooney definitely is not the most brilliant director but at least he is a daring one. He is not afraid to touch some (for Americans) controversial subjects. Not only as a director but also as an actor and producer. He and the movie were rewarded with six Oscar nominations for this.

The movie is shot atmospherically entirely in black & white and uses only real archive footage of McCarthy and the hearings, rather than make him a movie character. It suits the atmosphere and the time period the movie is set in. I don't know for some reason black & white movies always are more beautiful to look at and the images better help to tell the story. Thank goodness that there are also still film-makers around that realize this and have the guts to still shoot a movie entirely in black & white.

The movie handles some interesting matters, involving several characters. The movie easily could and perhaps also should had lasted 3 hours long, instead of merely 93 minutes. The subject screams for more and a deeper insightful treatment. Some of the elements and characters in the movie are rather raffled unfortunately.

The movie is very well cast and has some great actors. David Strathairn is absolutely brilliant in his role and it is without doubt the best role out of his career till date. Clooney also allowed himself to play a small and toned down role in the movie, which absolutely adorns him as a person. Some smaller roles also are there for actors such as Frank Langella, Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Daniels.

In my opinion not a classic must-see but still an essential viewing, due to its subject.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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