Set against the backdrop of racial tension in 1960’s America, director Alan Parker has bravely put together a story based around true events. Three civil rights workers have been murdered and two FBI agents are sent to a small town in Mississippi to investigate their ‘disappearance’, because at this point no bodies had been found. Faced with no help from the locals as it appears apart from the odd few they are all card carrying racists and members of the KKK. The black community are scared and the agents come up against a brick wall, time and time again. Eventually the by-the-book lead investigator Agent Ward (Willem Dafoe) has to give in to the hard ass tactics of his colleague Agent Anderson (Gene Hackman).
The film’s period detail is faultless with a wonderful score by Trevor Jones. Hackman gives another career best performance as does Dafoe and are supported by the thespian talents of everyone’s favourite Drill Instructor R. Lee Ermey as the slimy Mayor, Frances McDormand and a truly frightening Michael Rooker. Also, keep an eye out for Tobin Bell as a good guy FBI dude before he turned nasty as ‘Jigsaw’.
The images of the KKK with their hoods and burning crosses is incredibly unsettling, as is the violence dished out. Yes, it’s hard going but is a very important film and should have won more Oscars including best film and director. Why people commit atrocities toward their fellow man has always baffled me and this picture shows us at our very worst.
ESSENTIAL, if uncomfortable viewing.
- Starring Gene Hackman Willem Dafoe Frances McDormand Kevin Dunn
- Director Alan Parker
- Distributor Second Sight