Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1997. 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, Home Box Office. Cinematography by Ellen Kuras. Produced by Spike Lee, Samuel D. Pollard. Music by Terence Blanchard. Film Editing by Samuel D. Pollard. Academy Awards 1997. Toronto International Film Festival 1997.
This searing documentary focuses on what is often considered by historians to be a strong impetus in the civil rights movement of the 1960s: the savage bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama church and the deaths of four girls who were killed in the explosion. This film, directed with exceptional grace by Spike Lee, examines the lives of the four young women thanks to generous interviews by family and friends, none of whom seem to have to reach very far into their memory banks to recall either their lost loved ones or the savagely cruel times they lived in before ‘Jim Crow’ laws began to be dismantled. The interview segments are powerful and moving, not to mention also quite strange: the interview with a severely frail George Wallace exonerating his own involvement in the events by pointing out his black best friend over and over again belongs in a Twilight Zone episode.