In this 1988 movie, Alan Parker's taste for simpleminded, sordid fantasy is trained on the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964, and the feast for the self-righteous that emerges has little to do with history, sociology, or even common sense. The glorification of the FBI (which conveniently ignores the FBI's hostility toward the civil rights struggle), the obfuscation about jim crow laws, and the absurd melodramatics may all have been well-intentioned, but the understanding about the past and the present of racism that emerges is depressingly thin. (The blacks in the plot, for instance, are depicted exclusively as noble sufferers who sing a lot of spirituals—they aren't even accorded the status of characters.) Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe star as antagonistic FBI agents who disagree about how to proceed with their investigation; Brad Dourif, Frances McDormand, and R. Lee Ermey are among the local yokels, and Chris Gerolmo is responsible for the primitive script.
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