Mississippi Burning Movie Summary
Set during the civil rights movement period, the movie Mississippi burning is an exquisite depiction of the time period, providing a glimpse into the occurrences that punctuated the era. Through the story of Allan Ward and his colleague Rupert Anderson, the movie explores the struggle for civil rights that permeated the country, with its plot set in Jessup county Mississippi. These two Federal Bureau of Investigations agents receive and pursue an investigation in Jessup on the disappearance of two black and one white civil rights worker. With its unique plot, the movie explores of the rage and hatred experienced by the white community and the suffering and pain experienced in the black community. Besides its interest and clarity in the racially motivated passions, Alan Parker’s movie is spot on in describing the lifestyle of the small town folk and their routines.
Based on the true story of the disappearance of three voter registration officials (Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman) whose function involved registration of minorities, the main characters (Ward and Anderson) present the complete opposites in ideology involved in addressing the situation. While Ward is strict in his adherence to the rules in their investigation, Anderson is capable and ready to bend the rules in order to achieve his objectives. On their arrival in the town, the agents receive a hostile reception and opposition from the local police and racist Ku Klux Klan. In their opinion, the local officials viewed the case as a stunt aimed at obtaining publicity by agitators and liberals from the North. Besides, in a town proclaimed to be an Anglo-Saxon democracy by its mayor (Tilman), such resistance is expected. True to the media’s reputation, they swarm the town generating increased interest every moment on the investigation and plight of the blacks in the South.
The resistance for support toward the investigation precipitates in the violence toward the blacks in the community, with the police aiding the KKK in their arsons and tortures that silence the whole community. In show of their variation, Ward quickly resorts to the involvement of reinforcements to explicitly present his authority. However, after the entire community is silenced by the KKK, the bureau has little resource left and Anderson’s unorthodox methods take center stage. On their arrival, the investigators had set their sights on the Sherriff’s office as the intermediary ensuring the delivery of the missing persons to the KKK, through Pell, the deputy. That he has an alibi for the time of the disappearance of the three raises questions as to why he would need to have one for that specific time. However, his alibi has an Achilles’ heel. Its authenticity was dependent on the corroboration of his wife, whose predisposition had consistently been developing against her two-faced companion. Anderson immediately sets his target on Mrs. Pell, knowing fully that her assistance could seal the deal on the investigation.
Using his charm and interpersonal skills, Anderson manages to win the confidence of Pell’s wife and builds a friendship with her that promises her something more. To his merit, she prefers and responds to these advances and is willing to be swept away from her current situation. In a turn of events, Anderson falls for his target and desires to “rescue” her. Their interaction eventually results in her input in assisting the agents in discovering the bodies of the three victims and the conviction of the perpetrators.