Mississippi Burning (1988)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1988Orion Pictures.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Alan Parker’s drama gets few points for truth, as most of his fact-based films generally do, but he gets high marks for telling an emotionally involving story. and  play FBI agents on the trail of missing civil rights activists in the Klan-riddled Mississippi of the sixties. While Dafoe is a freedom-fighting youngster with idealism on the brain, Hackman has the burned-out mentality of a small-town sheriff. Their opposing styles collide frequently in their investigation, especially when it threatens to blow up the racially segregated town they’re in. has a fantastic supporting role as the wife of a racist local deputy, whose testimony might be a key to solving the entire case. Powerful cinematography by Chris Menges is a key seller, though Parker twists history so much (the FBI saves America from the Klan?) for his audiences that it ultimately makes the film less influential than it could have been.

Academy Award:  Best Cinematography
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Gene Hackman); Best Supporting Actress (Frances McDormand); Best Director (Alan Parker); Best Film Editing; Best Sound

Berlin Film Festival Award:  Best Actor (Gene Hackman)

Golden Globe Award Nominations:  Best Picture-Drama; Best Actor-Drama (Gene Hackman); Best Director (Alan Parker); Best Screenplay


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