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Main Characters and People Living in the 1960s
The movie in question is Mississippi Burning (1988). The main characters of the film are the FBI agent Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman) and the FBI agent Alan Ward (Willem Dafoe). The main characters are part of the system as they are FBI agents and their role is to keep the order (Mississippi Burning). Some may think that the Anglo-Saxon world was the world FBI was to defend. It is necessary to note that the society in the south was quite polarized when it came to racial issues (Henretta, Edwards and Self 381). The two main characters chose the side of the law. They were against racial inequality. It is not explicitly seen to what extent they supported the Civil Rights Movement, but it is clear that they were against the violence that was often used against African Americans. However, they did not support any side as representatives of both camps used illegal and sometimes very violent measures. There were thousands of people who shared such beliefs. Many Americans saw the wrongs in society but, in the majority of cases, they did not do anything to stop it. However, some individuals were ready to fight for real equality.
The Place and Its Importance
The action takes place in the state of Mississippi. The place was not chosen randomly by the filmmakers. The film is based on a true story. The events took place in Mississippi where three Civil Rights activists were murdered by Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s. The film focuses on that event or rather on the investigation of the murders. It is noteworthy that it is stressed that there was a lot of race-related violence in Mississippi in the 1960s (Henretta, Edwards and Self 828). Of course, it is important to remember that racism and segregation, as well as violence against African Americans (including acts of Ku Klux Klan), were typical of southern states.
As has been mentioned above, the film is set in the United States of the 1960s. Such major historical events as the Civil Rights Movement and activities of the Ku Klux Klan are depicted in the film. The movie shows how people (African Americans as well as white Americans) tried to fight for their rights and actual equality in the US society. Many people understood that a democratic society could not co-exist with racism and segregation. The film shows rallies that took place across the country. The film also reveals the horrors of racism. Gatherings of the Ku Klux Klan and the life (as well as crimes) of its members are also depicted. These events are mentioned in the textbook. Of course, the book does not contain as many details but it includes data that shows the scale of the violence revealed in the film.
It is necessary to note that the movie seems authentic and very appealing due to the special attention to detail. Of course, the costumes and setting help the viewer to plunge into the atmosphere of the USA of the 1960s. However, there are even more meaningful details. For instance, the burning cross was one of the symbols used in the movie. Members of the Ku Klux Klan often had gatherings where they burnt a Christian cross. This was quite common for Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and 1960s. This was a symbol of the religious fight against evil. Members of the Ku Klux Klan saw equality of African Americans as the worst evil. The film also gives details of rallies where Civil Rights Movement activists tried to fight against racism and segregation. Of course, the famous scene of the funeral shows the bitterness associated with segregation. The African American activist could not be buried in the same place where the other two victims were buried. Even in such horrible moments, segregation was still there. Reactions of people also help get a full picture of Americans living in southern states in the 1960s.
Readings and the Movie
I have to admit that the class readings and videos helped me get a deeper understanding of the movie. It is possible to state that the information I got from readings was the basis and the film provided some additional information and a great emotional load. When reading books, it seems horrible that people could have such ideas and such lives. However, books provide facts and statistics. The reader understands the facts and events. Short videos provide insights into reality. However, the movie is the most potent source of emotions. I believe that a person who has not read the readings I did would get another impression. I think this person would be impressed and quite emotional. At that, the person would still think it is only a movie, a fictional story. However, for me, the movie is an illustration of what was happening. I know that it all happened in reality and this makes me see the events a bit differently.
Henretta, James A., Rebecca Edwards, and Robert O. Self. America: A Concise History. South Melbourne, Victoria: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. Print.
Mississippi Burning. Dir. Alan Parker. Boston, MA: Orion Pictures. 1988. DVD.