An acclaimed film back in 1988, Mississippi Burning still shines and is capable of striking a chord within you on your feelings and views on racism. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner dealt with the same subject but in a different and more comedic way, but Mississippi Burning takes you on the dark side of the subject, accurately showing you the hatred that was once flaming through our society in the 60's. Directed by renowned director Alan Parker (Midnight Express), the film delivers despite the already known outcome, and in the end it really impresses. I personally felt impressed and shattered when I first saw it.In 1964, one of the most violent years in U.S. history, in the state of Mississippi, three civil rights activists on the road out of the town of Jessup suddenly disappear without a trace. Two FBI agents are sent to investigate the case: Alan Ward (Willem Dafoe), who’s a firm, clean-cut, and by-the-book guy, and Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman in an Oscar nominated role), an experienced lawman who knows how to handle people in certain situations. When they arrive, they are received with hostility from the white locals and with fear from the black locals, who are forced to live segregated in the other side of town. As the investigation goes on, the two agents clash on whether which technique is best, and the violence in the town escalates even further. Soon one person starts speaking out, the deputy's wife (Frances McDormand), and she may be the only key that will unlock the mystery-turning-murder, and the relation the case has with the Ku Klux Klan, and bring the criminals to justice.
"Where does the hatred come from?"
The film has a unique display of camera shots, arranged by Peter Biziou who won an Oscar for his work, which shows us the action in a very simple and direct way. Thanks to this, the film is able to broaden the shock effect on the many violent scenes of the movie. The films realism also helps even more, and it's the most important part of the movie, since the subplot deals on how the black people were severely oppressed by the white people, and during this period of hatred, the driving force behind racism is the Ku Klux Klan. The film scores in showing us the way those people thought about the blacks and the Jews, and how the white supremacy will beat them all, and all that bullshit, plus their doings on the many black citizens. But this is really important, since the aftermaths of the many subplots really give out messages of some great and humanistic significance to our society that we just can't easily dismiss. The depictions of racism are accurate and also serves as a reflection mirror of the past, a reminder of how ignorant people can be capable of just trashing another man only because of his skin color, and plants in us thoughts of what can we do about it so the things that we have done amongst us can never happen again. That's what basically this film is trying to say, and does it in a great way despite few setbacks in the script. Other than that it was great.
The performances were great, Dafoe Hackman, and McDormand shine, as well as the rest of the supporting cast. Alan Parker's direction is superb in this film, making the rest fall into place and coming up with big results.In the end, I would definitely recommend this movie, since it combines the elements of suspense, some action and realism into an almost perfectly tight film, with some great performances and meaningful messages. This film is really a must-see.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1021&reviewer=235
originally posted: 05/23/01 14:16:16