Agent Alan Ward tries everything to solve the case within the books, but his partner Agent Rupert Anderson, a former sheriff in Mississippi, understands the local culture and knows the case won’t be solved abiding by the books. Together they go through a diversity of leads and come up empty-handed, until the town sheriff’s wife (Frances McDormand) steps forward and reveals some shocking 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 challenge with their own differences as well. But even with “Mississippi Burning” being based on a true story, it is not a documentary. This movie is a gritty police drama, bloody, passionate and sometimes surprisingly funny about the efforts of Agent Alan Ward and Agent Rupert Anderson into the disappearances of these three men. Few men could be more opposite than these two agents Anderson and Ward.
With Anderson believing in keeping a low profile, by hanging around the barber shop, sort of smelling out the likely perpetrators, while Ward believes in a show of force and calls in hundreds of federal agents and even the National Guard to search for the missing workers. The film which stars, Gene Hackman (who was nominated for best actor, 1988), Frances McDormand (nominated for best supporting actress, 1988), Willem Dafoe and Brad Dourif won the academy award for best cinematography in 1989. Set in the U.
S state of Mississippi in 1964 the film looks at how terrible and pointless racism was and still is. The film is based on the prejudice ways of the “whites” against the “coloured” because of their beliefs and skin colour. In Mississippi Burning there is rally at the park where the head of the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) is telling the thousands of people gathered how he loves being “white” and loves the fact that his town is segregated into white and black. The camera work is used in this scene to show us the crowd cheering and clapping with kids as young as 3 cheering along with them.
The kids are being brought up to believe that this is the right way to live and this shows how the white Americans were being inspired to take action against the coloured from when they have been born. One of the KKK’s wives, Mrs Pell was holding onto a “Negro’s” baby when her husband storms home to see her accompanying a coloured women and comments “Pity, they look so cute while their young. ” This shows how the Anglo-Saxon Christian’s felt superior to the coloured as even before they have learned to walk they are being discriminated for just having a different skin colour.