In 1964, when three civil-rights workers, two white and one black, mysteriously disappear while driving through Mississippi, two FBI agents, Ward (Willem Dafoe) and Anderson (Gene Hackman), are sent in to investigate. While Ward is young and by the book, Anderson is a seasoned southerner comfortable with the Byzantine (and, to Ward, morally ambiguous) ways of his region. Together they sift through a variety of leads and come up empty-handed--until the town sheriff's wife (Frances McDormand) steps forward and reveals some surprising information. In order to solve the case, the two contrasting agents must not only overcome the hostility of the local authorities and the black community but contend with their own differences as well. A fictionalized account of one of the landmarks in the civil-rights movement, MISSISSIPPI BURNING is a swift and powerful film. Director Alan Parker, continuing his investigation of human cruelty (begun explosively in his harrowing 1978 film MIDNIGHT EXPRESS), crafts a historically poignant film that fingers the monstrosities of a virulent strain of racial intolerance in America. Dafoe and Hackman are convincing as they investigate the disappearance of the civil-rights workers and unravel the grisly web of obfuscation around a scandalous, cancerous truth very near the heart of a nation.
1988 - Academy Awards - Best Cinematography - Winner
Main Cast & Crew:
Alan Parker - Director
R. Lee Ermey
Pruitt Taylor Vince
- Format: DVD (Special Edition)
- Run Time: 126
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 738329237721
- Genre: Drama
- Rating: R (MPAA)
- Release Date: May 2001
In 1964, two FBI agents try to solve the mystery of the disappearance of three civil rights workers.
Theatrical Release: December 9, 1988 Gene Hackman won Best Actor at the 1988 Berlin Film Festival. The 1988 National Board of Review awarded the film Best Picture, Best Director (Alan Parker), Best Actor (Hackman), and Best Supporting Actress (Frances McDormand). A 1990 TV-movie was based on the events leading to the 1964 murder of civil-rights activists Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, which was the basis for "Mississippi Burning." "Murder in Mississippi" starred Tom Hulce, Blair Underwood, Josh Charles, Jennifer Grey, C.C.H. Pounder, Andre Braugher, and John Dennis Johnson and was directed by Roger Young and produced by David Wolper. It ran 200 minutes and was shown in two parts (a 96-minute version also exists). A quickie exploitation pic loosely based on the murders was released in late 1965. It was also entitled "Murder in Mississippi." Producers Robert Colesberry and Frederick Zollo appear in the film as a cameraman and reporter. Estimated budget $15 million. Shot in Jackson, Mississippi, and Lafayette, Alabama. Filming began March 7, 1988. Shot in Panavision. Color by DuArt; prints by DeLuxe. Screened in competition at the 1989 Berlin Film Festival, the 1989 Antwerp International Film Festival, the 1989 Moscow International Film Festival (market), and the 1989 Panorama of World Cinema in Sofia, Bulgaria. Reviewed in the New York Times December 9, 1988, and Monthly Film Bulletin May 1989. Rated BBFC 18 by the British Board of Film Censors.
"...An almost visionary intensity..." - 03/01/1989 Sight and Sound, p.131
"...Insistent....MISSISSIPPI BURNING is first-rate." - 12/09/1988 New York Times, p.C12
Included in The New York Times "10 BEST FILMS OF 1988" - 12/25/1988 New York Times, p.II, 9
"...Alan Parker's MISSISSIPPI BURNING does exactly what he want it to do. It moves us to outrage and horror....MISSISSIPPI BURNING'S most powerful achievement is its creation of time and place..." - 12/09/1988 Los Angeles Times, p.C1
"...Strong on period detail....This still carries a certain brooding power..." - 02/01/2001 Total Film, p.108