Mississippi Burning is the story of two FBI agents, Ward and Anderson. Anderson is older, from the south and freer in his detection techniques. Ward is younger, from the liberal north and ambitious but by the letter of the law. He is also leading the team and finding his feet after being given such responsibility so young. They are investigating the disappearance of three civil rights activists, while in a southern state. The three came down to support those who are active in the civil rights movement. The area is well known to be a hub for Ku Klux Klan activity and they may have fallen foul of some self-righteous bigot. The investigation is hampered by quiet locals who are scared to help. It is even more so by unhelpful law enforcement, who seem more interested in race and age then finding three northern boys. Both directly seem to want the FBI gone and the problem of people wanting their freedoms along with it.
Based on one of the most horrific race related murders in American history. This is the film of the investigation and its build up to the subsequent trial. A trial that split much of the US into pro or anti, civil rights and Black freedoms. Much as how the current situation with LGBT rights has split America, this event drove a wedge into a society that was trying so hard to change. Gay lives matter and this event must illustrate how division is often driven by ignorance and fear. A very dark period in American history and one that has real power and presence even today. With everything that has happened over the course of the last year in Ferguson and Miami. Black Lives matter and this event more than many others underlines how far we have come but also how far even today we have to go. So can a film like this, made by a major director under a major studio really have the ability to connect with such events?
Alan Parker is a phenomenal film maker and one that hit his mark on this stunning film.Parker has a great eye for the natural, real image and its balance on the eye. He takes this incredible story and inputs within its visual matrix, motifs of unity and division. This is great to explore and something I doubt others have seen. They have I just wish I had the chance to find something new! He is known foe natural space and people, this is ideal here as it helps with the meditation on social history. Race is such a hard topic to get right and Parkers gift is his great direction. The buddy movie is also at play here. Defoe and Hackman have a great pairing and they feel natural. You want to spend even more time with them. Hackman is a tough southern bastard but he has a heart and his performance constructs this. Defoe is smart and northern nice. He adds the layer of cold and it makes the performance. The supporting cast are as excellent, nneding no more than to act and let the film run. It is a testament to the occasional academy rights that this was showered with nominations…
Finally, yes people have noted that the story is a distorted vision of the facts. This is licence to tell the events in a way that the audience can consume it without it losing much of its message. You see as a former history student, much of the events are weight and that can slow a story and damage the way we emotionally connect with an event. The topic is so difficult and also so challenging, as to make it need this. White people do not understand Ethnic minority issues around race, so we need to have this put out in the world. The Blu ray has great features and the commentary by Parker explores this….