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The Movie Clip In The Midnight Sky That Means More Than You Think

The Midnight Sky hits Netflix on December 23, following its brief, limited theatrical release. As has been extensively reported, the film represents George Clooney's first appearance in a major motion picture since 2016's Money Monster. As a bonus, the former ER star isn't the only thing making a long-awaited return to the silver screen – The Midnight Sky also brings a semi-obscure flick from the 1950s back into the limelight.

The words "post-apocalyptic Fred Astaire movie" don't get thrown around a lot these days, but that's exactly what 1959's On the Beach was — a bleak look at the darkest possible scenario in a post-nuclear world. It's a grim story set in the aftermath of World War III, with radioactive fallout creeping across what's left of civilization. The main characters grasp at perceived hope or give in to nihilism as the inevitable eclipses any chance of survival. Kids love it.

If all of that strikes you as astonishingly similar to the plot of The Midnight Sky, based on the novel Good Morning, Midnight, you're not alone — Clooney apparently came to the same conclusion, telling Deadline in a recent interview, "When I read the script the first thing I said, it's like the modern-day On the Beach."

The Midnight Sky calls back to the apocalypses of old

The Midnight Sky takes place in a similarly unfortunate world as the one in On the Beach, in which an unnamed catastrophe has coated the planet in radiation. The matching settings and themes of the two pictures explain why Clooney, who pulled triple duty directing, producing, and starring in The Midnight Sky, elected to include a clip from On the Beach in his movie. That said, he states that he felt it was important to differentiate his movie from the film it calls back to, especially in tone. Now, he argues, isn't the time to focus on doomsday.

"The only difference, I thought, was that On the Beach is so nihilistic by the end," Clooney told Deadline, referring to the 1959 movie's (60+ year spoiler alert) famously dark ending. "It really is the end of all mankind and there is no hope. It's one last kiss, one last love before it all ends... and this one, there is life to it and there is redemption to it and there's hope to it and all the things that sort of make the struggle worth it." The director and star didn't want to drop a ton of demoralizing bricks on his audience. "If [the moral] was just, 'OK, everybody dies in the end,' it wouldn't feel like a story we need to see right now," he stated.