Two FBI agents investigating the murder of civil rights workers during the 60s seek to breach the conspiracy of silence in a small Southern town where segregation divides black and white. The younger agent trained in FBI school runs up against the small town ways of his former Sheriff partner.
Plot Keywords: swamp / fbi / civil-rights / mississippi / sheriff
Taglines: 1964. When America was at war with itself.
Certificate: Argentina:13 | Australia:M | Canada:14A (Ontario) | Finland:K-16 | Iceland:16 | Ireland:18 | Netherlands:16 | Norway:15 | Peru:14 | Portugal:M/12 (Qualidade) | Singapore:PG | South Korea:18 | Spain:18 | Sweden:15 | United Kingdom:18 | United States:R | West Germany:16
Cast: Gene Hackman , Willem Dafoe , Frances McDormand , Brad Dourif , R. Lee Ermey , Gailard Sartain , Stephen Tobolowsky , Michael Rooker , Pruitt Taylor Vince , Badja Djola , Kevin Dunn , Frankie Faison , Thomas B. Mason , Geoffrey Nauffts , Rick Zieff , Christopher White , Gladys Greer , Jake Gipson , Dianne Lancaster , Stanley W. Collins , Daniel Winford , Marc Clement , Larry Shuler , Stephen Bridgewater , Bob Penny , James F. Moore , Park Overall , Georgia F. Wise , Lois Allen , Barry Davis Jim Sr. , Dan Desmond , Darius McCrary , Lou Walker , Billie Jean Young , Alisa R. Patrick , Barbara Gibson , Pat Funderburk , Dawn Boyd , Dwight Boyd , Linda Fuller , George Isbell , Ethel L. Mayes , James Arnold Mayes , George Mason , Charles Franzen , Harry Franklin , Virginia Bennett , James Lloyd , Jesse Merle Speaks , Simeon Teague , Tonea Stewart , Harry Quick , Cullen Gilliland , Zeke Davidson , Robert F. Colesberry , Frederick Zollo , Judy Sasser , Mark Jeffrey Miller , Ed Geldart , Mert Hatfield , James Eric , Paul Savelis , John P. Fertitta , Ron De Roxtra , Doug Jackson , Gary Moody , Robert Erickson , John Brook , Tobin Bell , Daniel Chapman , Rick Washburn , Robert Glaudini , Ken Magee , Everett Thrall , Bernice Poindexter , Brenda Dunlap , Lannie Spann McBride , Jack Buck , Major Combs , Ralnardo Davis , Betty Lucille DeJournette , Paul Henderson , W. Mitchell Morgan , Ralph Pruitt Vaughn , James Lowell Turnham
Company: Orion Pictures
Country: United States
Released Date: 27 Jan 1989 (USA)
Film Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA
Runtime: 128 min
Soundmix: Dolby SR
Color: Color (DeLuxe)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
DanB-4 » Great movies are ones that invoke a strong emotional response that lingers long after the movie is over. Mississippi Burning is that kind of film. You may love it, you may hate it. You may think that it is an accurate depiction of the south in 1964, you may think its pure fiction. No matter what you will respond strongly.
Director Alan Parker has been down this road before with Midnight Express, another crushing, gut-wrenching tale based on a true story. In both cases, a great deal of liberty is taken with the facts, but that doesn't matter. Mississippi Burning is not a docudrama or an A & E special, it is at its heart, a police drama, and a near perfect one at that.
It is criticized by some for its depiction of southerners of the time as a group of brain-dead racists with no moral fiber whatsoever. I don't believe that is the movie's intention, but it spends time showing this side of society to make us understand how hate breeds itself, and how it becomes a way of life and an accepted standard. As one character states, "When we were seven years old, they told us that segregation was in the bible. You hear that long enough, you start to believe it".
Mississippi Burning won a (well-deserved) Oscar for cinematography, but sat and watched Rain Main take home the majors. It was clearly the best film of 1988 and stands as one of the great works of American cinema of the 80's. Hackman and Dafoe are at their best, and Frances McDormand delivers a beautifully understated, powerful performance as the deputy's wife – a woman at war with her sense of right and wrong, struggling with fear and loyalty. Her character is the centerpiece of the movie.
This is not a preachy or melodramatic movie. You won't get a lecture on why racism is wrong. You will get an rich, engaging crime drama depicting a pivotal time in American History, and you will never forget it.
**** out of ****.
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