Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
I haven’t heard one word about this film until now, but I’d consider this review to be promising enough to put it on the radar for when it’s finally released later this year. Check it out...
So, in celebration of MLK day, I did what any liberal arts college student would do. That's right, I went to a screening of a socially relevant film to improve my inner being. The screening that happened to be showing was a documentary that has yet to be released. Figured I could help spread the word, so here I am.
The documentary was entitled "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till." Quick and sad summary for anyone who doesn't know the basic events surrounding Emmett Till's life: 14 year old African American boy from Chicago takes trip to relatives in Mississippi. The year is 1955. While there, he breaches the etiquette of the times and whistles at a white woman. Two days later, at two in the morning, Emmett is abducted from his Grandfather's home by two white men. His body was found in a river a few days later; badly mutilated. This is the general outline of the events. If you've heard anything of Till's case, this is probably about as much as you know. You might also know that the two men were found not guilty not only of murder, but of kidnapping as well, despite the fact that there was an eye-witness. If you might be thinking "ahh, this is just another one of them minority conspiracy theories. what if these guys didn't kil the kid?" Well, for the sum of $4,000, the killers confessed to the crime in Look magazine a year after the events. I know what you're thinking "what a couple of cocksuckers" right? I'd have to agree. Despite the tragedy of Till's murder, the glass is half full way of looking at it, is that the Till case was instrumental in sparking the civil rights movement despite the dire results of the trial.
This is where filmmaker Keith Beauchamp steps in. What he did was bring the case, and the injustice of the case to the forefront once again. The documentary chronicles the events leading up to the murder, and the events that took place immediately there after. Here's the amazing part. Because of the documentary, because of his research, the case has been reopened. There is now and active investigation into the possible involvement of up to a dozen suspects (many of whom are now deceased). This is the nitty gritty of the film, now let me speak to my reaction of the film, not as a pseudo-sociallly conscience liberal arts student, but as a member of the audience.
That's right. Shit.
That's not to say the film is shit. That is just my sentiment as I exited the theater and exhaled deeply. It's one of those films that acts as a kick to the gut. It wasn't the most artfully made film. It didn't have all the style of an Errol Morris, or the "fuck you rich white biblethumping sons a bitches" sentiment of a Moore film. Instead, it was very gentle in its run. Those involved, those that speak about the incident all appear to have come to some sort of inner peace about the murder. That's not to say they don't want justice for it still, but they all spoke in a very gentle manner that felt incredibly genuine.
And if you want to know evil, then this is the film for you. I don't like throwing around buzz words like evil very often. But as the mother of Emmitt Till recalls the damage she witnessed upon seeing the body of her son, you realize the men involved had to have had a certain amount of evil in them. Evil, as far as I'm concerned is posessing the knowledge that what you are doing is wrong, and doing it anway. So, in these terms the killing would be described as evil just for the fact they knowingly burdered this 14 year-old boy. The sheer brutality involved, the mutilation of what appeared to be handsome charming young man is alarming. I was too disgusted too puke if that makes any sense. As a film geek, I love seeing the good guys fight the bad guys. It's the original thrill that all film attempts to duplicate. Well these bad guys, these fucking assholes, were treated as good guys in the year 1955. Makes you a little ill to think what they did to this young man went unpunished. A quote from a friend of mine after we left the screening sums up the true nature of these men nicely "I never was really into supporting the death penalty, but after that..."
Keith Beauchamp spent nine years of his life making this film, and he is still involved in the investigation. This makes me smile. The fact that a filmmaker can make a difference like that. The fact that through film you can actually make change. Re-open a fifty-year old case. It's amazing, and as Beauchamp told the audience after the screening, now it's our turn to make a difference. Well, I figured the least I could do was continue to spread the word. Sure, it's a fifty year old story, but it's one that shouldn't be forgotten.
The mother of Emmitt had an open casket. She wanted the world to see what it was capable of doing to a young child like Emmitt. She wanted the world to understand that events like this happen. She wanted to prevent them from happening again. The film is filled with stirring images and recollections like this. Like I said, it's not the most stylish of films, but it truly documents and informs the public; two tasks that ensure a documentary's success. I really don't know what to say about this film beyond what I have said. It's a film that is not fun to watch, but you know what? Sometimes you have to leave the popcorn at home, and check out something that might give your head something to really chew on.
Beauchamp said the film should be opening later this year in theaters on the anniversary of Till's death. I suggest giving it a look then giving it a good, long, think.
A Goondock Saint
Sounds powerful, man. Thanks for the heads-up.