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Arts and Entertainment

Movie Review: Good

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Viggo....DON'T TURN AROUND!!! Photo courtesy Th!nkFilm.

Hindsight, as we all know, is 20/20; the clarity of succeeding events allows us a sharper and more focused analysis of inciting incidents. But is it possible for the incident itself to have a level of focus all its own, without the benefit of future knowledge? Maybe that first decision can really be seen with 20/10 clarity; not in the sense that all known variables and outcomes will be laid out and correctly predicted, but with a very sharp understanding of the importance of the decision itself at the time it is made. What if the decision you have to make is an unpopular one, perhaps by a wide margin? There is heightened clarity in the immediacy of the decision itself, and it’s understanding of short-term consequences. At that point, the future is hazy and relatively unknown, but the present is crystal clear.

If you were able to follow that, then you’d do well to read C.P. Taylor’s 1981 play Good, or at least go see the movie adaptation, starring Viggo Mortensen. These questions, about the nature of assumptions, fears and groupthink comprise the backbone of the story, set in Germany during World War II. And perhaps there is no better place for such an intellectual study as this, too. For roughly a decade, millions of otherwise normal individuals conspired to take over the known world by brute force and unthinkable acts. Now, each person did not flip the ultimate switch or sign off on ultimate declarations of war, but there is complicity in the bureaucracy that brings about these high-level decisions. Small moments, miniscule decisions, made thousands of times by real people, to get to a point of no return.

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As an adaptation, Good is fairly faithful, but does have its moments of infidelity. Due in part to the creative constraints that come with expanding the small universe of a play onto the silver screen, Good finds new and exciting ways to shine, while being forced to shed some of the mechanisms that made it so successful on stage. And even these decisions are not without their consequences.