History portrayed responsibly.
Grinndigo | 08/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Medgar Evers was a key person in the civil rights movement. Though as I remember it, we were not taught much about him during Black History Month.
I remember reading how he encouraged a reporter doing a story on him to focus on the Emmet Till story, because it was an example of the type of justice Black people received in Mississippi. So he was instrumental helping to shine a national spotlight on racism and the resulting violence against Black people including lynching. He also went undercover posing as a field worker to find witnesses to Emmet Till's murder who were afraid to go to Mississippi police officers because they feared for their lives.
His murder cut short his important work as civil rights leader at a time when he was needed most. The movie centers on the journey of his widow to gain justice for him, 30 years after his murder by Byron De La Beckwith. De La Beckwith was played chillingly by James Woods who gave an oscar worthy performance.
The movie from all the news accounts I read while following the case sticks close to what really happened. The performances were excellent especially Whoppi Goldberg and Alex Baldwin.
Baldwin's character is in some ways a metaphor for mainstream americans who, despite trying, are still unable to grasp that the Civil Rights movement was about much more than being able to eat in a white resturant.
I watched this with my mother, on DVD, and when Baldwin's character explains to his children why Evers fought for equality so "Black people could eat in the same reasturants" my mother said to the screen- " We fought to save our children from suffering the unjust fate of Emmet Till."
Baldwin convincingly portrays a person who because of his involvement with this case is forced to confront the overt racism he has always ignored in his family and in himself.
Goldberg portrays the manerisms of Myrlie Evers so perfectly, I had an opportunity to attend a speech she gave, and only then could I fully appreciate the subtle nuances of Goldberg's performance, which was also oscar worthy.
My only real critique was the casting of Yolanda King as Myrlie Evers' daughter. You just don't believe that Yolanda King and Whoppi Goldberg are mother and daughter. Yolanda King looks older than her in every scene. The director either did not try, or could not compensate using makeup, camera angles or digital effects.
I have not seen Yolanda King in anything else but next to Whoppi Goldberg she seems like a bad actress. It is not too bad for the film because she does not have many scenes.
I know from interviews including one he gave with Myrlie Evers on Oprah that for Rob Reiner this film was a labor of love, and this probaly influenced his decision to cast Yolanda King in this part. Many other young actresses could have done justice to this part and been believeable as Whoppi Goldberg's daughter Kimberly Elise comes to mind.
But this one mistake does not take away from the overall amazing quality of this movie - it is a must see.
The Fact of Racism
Robert B. Yeaman | San Francisco, CA United States | 04/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Growing up in a very diverse and loving community I never really saw the effects of racism. When it was taught in school it always seemed like something from the distant past. This film really brought home the fact that racism is not as distant as I once believed. It is a scary thing to see adults who harvest so much hatred towards other human beings. This film was a real eye opener."
Final closure to an important chapter in civil rights histor
Kyle Tolle | Phoenix, Arizona USA | 05/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`Ghosts of Mississippi' is the story based on factual events of the final trial of the man who murdered civil rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963. He was tried twice before but both times the case ended in hung juries. It is also a portrait of enduring patience in the fact that his widow, Myrlie Evers, had to wait 30 years for final justice, all the while knowing that her husband`s assassin remained a free man.
I can't honestly think of too many movies where I have seen Alec Baldwin and Whoopi Goldberg give such impressive acting performances as compared to their work here. They both fit their roles perfectly and it shows. On the other end of the spectrum, James Woods, who also did an outstanding job, is so into his character that it is almost spooky. The way he behaves and delivers his lines just gives the impression that you're looking at total hate and evil personified in a man.
To compliment the acting, the movie moves along at a nice pace and portrays the difficulties of preparing a case that is 3 decades old along with the still unresolved issues of racism still evident in the Mississippi climate. As for the trial itself, this is also a tense atmosphere that adds realism and intrigue to the movie. If I had to make a comparison, and this being based on similar types of events, I would have to say that this film ranks up there with `Mississippi Burning' which is also an excellent movie in its own right.
`Ghosts of Mississippi' is a fine example of solid acting and directing coupled with a strong, thought provoking story. This film is very enjoyable all the way through and I recommend it to everyone.
History lover's delight
Salem Saberhagen | 04/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love things on Civil Rights, yet I've found nearly all to be extremely boring. This movie is the MOST engaging and gripping movie on this topic, ever created. I LOVE that it is full of history! It has far more history than any other film of its type or genre, in history. I LOVE that it Evers' son playing himself in it. I love the fact that, for a real treat, we even have The Great Martin Luther King's grand-daughter, playing Merlie's daughter. I love that Detective Bennett, plays himself, Dective Bennett in it. I love that it mentions Goodman, Chaney and Schwarner, without the sterile blandness of Mississippi Burning. I LOVE that this film covers everything and more, is SO full of history, and real people from history playing themselves. This film is a history buff's delight.
This film smashes it right out of the ballpark in terms of ege-of-your-seat suspense, and true historical value. In contrast, Mississippi Burning (which I also own), is very methodical in comparison. Very bland, very dry, and very sterile. Two cops who can't agree and sadly, take centrestage more than the subject matter, no emotion, no nothing. The most emotional and dramatic MB gets, is when Agent Anderson slices Deputy Pell with the razor. MB had no historical value. Even the 'facts' at the end, were fictional. However, whilst MB was cold, clinical, very methodical, sterile and completely lifeless, GoM went into the main character's LIVES. It was EMOTIONAL. It allowed us to see how each character ticked. It was full of personal nuances, historical data, and atmosphere.
As for acting, Baldwin was very convincing, and Woods, as the overwhelming majority of people agree, personified evil and racism to a T. In fact, it was so hard to remember he was only acting. He sent chills through to my bones, and many others.
The one thing that I find people misjudge in this movie, is the FANTASTIC and flawless portrayal of Merlie Evers. Some say she was emotion-less. That, is such an absurd comment, it really is hard to know how to deal with such an ignorant comment. But I really do feel that those who say that, expected this movie to be one of Goldberg's typically 'outrageous comedy' movies. What people that say that, DON'T understand, is that Goldberg, was in fact, TRUE to the REAL Evers. As the real Bobby DeLaughter said, the REAL Evers was very prim and propper, well spoken, an exuding not emotion what so ever. The real Merlie is always composed. So much so, that the end scene of Whoopi yelling "Yay Medgar, YAY!" after the trial, was added for the movie. Merlie, ever composed, did not make such an utterance. So in saying that Goldberg exuded no emotion, you are making a personal attack on Merlie Evers herself, and you need to at least research the facts before making the statement and find out WHY. The answer is, because that is how the REAL Merlie Evers is and was. In other words, in FACT, Whoopi Goldberg in that role, was perfection personified, and portrayed Merlie exactly as she is. Please bare in mind, this is not a COMEDY, so if you are expecting that, go elsewhere. I find most are too used to hilarious Whoopi, and simply can't recognise this performance, as it is not Whoopi's usual work. THAT is why Whoopi's performance was indeed, the most lauded by critics, out of the movie. It was THE MOST accurate. And accuracy, considering the subject matter, is far more important than silly comedy or grins, smiles and heaps of crying and screaming. The real Merlie Evers was never emotional, thus.
Overall, this movie, out of all the civil rights movies to me is the most HISTORICALLY INFORMATIVE, and the most engaging. It doesn't make you fall asleep like Missisippi Burning, but it doesn't sell-out to cheap dramatic license to create humour and sitcomish laughs, either. It is a movie that goes behind the scenes and into the key character's worlds in a matter than leaves you very emotional, yet very very drawn to the gripping storyline. The Director surely gets kudos for his gripping direction and pace, however the acting, particularly from Whoopi Goldberg and James Woods makes this a movie that compels you to watch over and over and over again."