Friday, December 3, 2010

Essay on Mississippi Burning

Essay on Mississippi Burning

Mississippi Burning takes place exactly where the title says, Mississippi. The year is 1964 in a small country town named Jessup. Since it’s the South, blacks are treated like they are a step below the normal man. This entire film is about a missing person case that two FBI agents come to investigate. They get swept up in something much bigger than what they came for.

When three civil rights representatives, two whites and a black boy, come into town and set up a voting both, the white town’s folk burn it down. The three kids are driving away when they find out they are being followed. After a few rear endings they turn down a side road, and the car behind turns on its lights. It was a cop car along with two other trucks. The boys stop and the Deputy, Clinton Pell, and the sheriff Mr. Stucking, come up to them and spoke first. Another man, Frank Baily, comes to the window. He is a very scary and strong looking man who hates blacks. He mouths off a few racial words then pulls a gun and kills all three of them.

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Later, two FBI agents come into town trying to find out what happened to the three missing people. One is a young college boy, Allan Ward, who, like you said in the FILMOGRAPHY packet, is a by the book guy. The other, Mr. Anderson, is a former Southern Sheriff. Right from the start they met with cold glances and turned backs. Allan met with the black members of the city only to get no information and bad news for the black people because they were beaten because of Allan’s talking. The Sheriff gave them a false story about the boys that seamed really fishy and did not make sense. After a little nosing around, they found out that a big KKK was in the town. Those people didn’t like the FBI agents, so they put a burning cross in the yard of their motel. Allan called in more agents to help with the case.

The KKK went on a riot after that, burning down houses and churches. The FBI found the car the kids were driving in a swamp. Allan decided to call in 100 more agents to help search the area. The event caught the attention of the nation and the press came pouring in.

The agents kept getting closer and closer to the truth, and the Klan kept getting madder and madder. After a peaceful protest for black rights, the Klan went on a rampage burning down every black home. The agents bring the Sheriff to a State trial for those incidents. The Sheriff and his Deputy are sentenced to five years in prison, but the Judge suspends it, meaning that it’s not going to happen anytime soon. The trial outrages the Klan who go on a massive killing spree.

The bodies of the three boys are found. Allan finds that he is not doing so well after a punch from Mr. Anderson, and Mr. Anderson takes over. He gets a piece of the story from the Deputy, Mr. Pall’s, wife. Hardball is the next move. They call in a “specialist” who threatens to cut off one of the clan member’s balls. He gets the whole story from him and the Agents set up a few stings to confirm. At the end, all the people who participated in the violent crime are placed behind bars, an action packed ending.

This film was made to show the treatment and unjust action towards the black community. The film was done with third person point of view, seeing and hearing everyone.

One thing that I learned from Mississippi Burning was that everyone from a town would look the other way when this happens. Nobody came forward and said anything without a fight or first saying no. If more towns were like this one, then the entire country at the time was messed up.

Another fact that I learned was that the lynch mobs would readily beat up women and children and burn down every building without a care. The third thing that I learned was even if you were white, you could still become a victim of the KKK. The two white boys where murdered before their black partner was.

Some stereotypes in this film were about FBI agents. When Allan called in the many agents, they all wore black suits and similar ties, even when they waded through water and mud. They would change clothes at least once. Another is the Mammy. She was in almost every black family shown, at least the unattractive, large and/or vocal woman portion of her.

The entire film was built around the discrimination of black people by white town’s folk. All of the lynching and house burnings are some examples along with the murder of the two white boys for being civil rights activists.

The director did a good job of making an impact in this film. He did so by portraying the Klan members beating on the helpless black people after they came out of the church. He used a lot of violent drama. This film flowed together very nicely. One thing that he could have done to this film would be to make it shorter or put something in the middle of it. I became very bored and restless after an hour or so. The movie is two hours long.

It was a good movie, not great, but good. I would give it a six out of ten.

One film technique that was used very well was the background music and noise. At the beginning, there was a black choir singing gospel songs over a burning building; and at the end was the same choir singing over a scene of a graveyard. When the convictions came up, a screen freeze captured the men as they walked hand cuffed down the Court steps and turned black and white while a black priest talked about the murder that happened in the weeks before. Another technique used is the editing. During the climax, various press interviews of the locals came into the screen. It flowed perfectly. Also, the camera was shaking during violent scenes and car chases, an added bonus.

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