A shameful chapter in American history is powerfully dramatized in Rosewood, but moviegoers in 1997 may not have been ready for the African American equivalent of Schindler's List. And while the massacre that occurred in t... more »he nearly all-black town of Rosewood, Florida, in 1922 cannot compare in scale to the Nazi holocaust, it potently illustrates the same issues of racism and inherited intolerance that percolate at every level of human existence. An estimated 40 to 150 blacks were killed in Rosewood by an all-white lynch mob from the neighboring town of Sumner, where a white woman falsely claimed she'd been assaulted by a black man. The resulting mayhem ignited a tinderbox of resentment toward the flourishing citizens of Rosewood, and those few who survived were so traumatized that they remained silent until the truth was revealed by an investigative journalist in 1982. The film is blessed with richly authentic production design, lush cinematography, and a subtly effective John Williams score, and director John Singleton and screenwriter Gregory Poirier embellish the truth of Rosewood with a fictional hero named Mann (Ving Rhames), who arrives to buy a five-acre plot coveted by Rosewood's white grocer (John Voight). The emerging trust between these two characters--and the fate of an extended family led by a defiant father (Don Cheadle)--gives shape to the movie's devastating depiction of racism and the courage of those who opposed the lynch mob's brutality. Singleton and Poirier fall prey to some bad dialogue and a broadly unbalanced depiction of bloodthirsty hayseeds, but the film's passion is maintained by its superb cast and the timeless echoes of history. --Jeff Shannon« less
Pam F. (PamYla) from JONESBORO, GA Reviewed on 5/24/2011...
I enjoyed the movie very much. This was a story that needed to be shared. The injustice, the accusations, the jumped to conclusions all based on the color of skin, not the content of character of a person. There are sweet and tender moments and those of true unrest, intolerance and insanity...but there is also the story of hope and renewed faith. I enjoyed it very much
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
An all too often forgotten part of our history.
John K. Reed | Harrisburg, PA United States | 01/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It could be argued that some of the black characters are far from above reproach. Esther Rolle's decision not to report the incident, Ving Rhames' (and others) desire to initially run from the conflict, or you could look at the promiscuity of Don Cheadle's sister's character who has an adulterous affair with Jon Voight. Superficially these may appear to be character flaws. That is unless you account for the reality of pervasive racism that exists in America (forget about just the South) by both the general populous and public officials in particular. The harsh truth is that black people didn't have the luxury to be (much) less than virtuous as it could too often result in imprisonment, financial ruin, beatings or lynchings. And even with all of the so called virtue exhibited by the black characters an accusation by a white woman was accepted even in lieu of truths known by other white characters. If that could happen to characters who were above reproach I hate to imagine what would have happened to less virtuous characters. If they were virtuous it's only because their very survival depended on it. This theme has repeated itself all too often and all too recently for a thinking individual to believe that these types of incidents couldn't happen today. The most deplorable fact is how long it took for the government to even acknowledge the horror and injustice of this and other events such as the destruction of Black Wall Street in Kansas City. That is another element of why blacks so often had to conduct themselves in a seemingly reproachless manner.And Mr. Singleton need not be criticized for the 'stereotypical' portrayals of southern racists. It was and is accurate. Just as it's accurate to demonstrate that there were and are whites who were fair minded and exhibited tremendous bravery of their own account.There is nothing 'happy' about this movie at all. Look at the countless number of lives that were either ruined or ended because of our collective disease. The final conflict underscores the real tragedy that racism is. It destroys the lives and humanity of all it's participant's be they perpetrators or victims. How many children lost their parents? How many individuals lost their livelihood or savings? How many families were destroyed?That notwithstanding it is a monumental achievment for Mr. Singleton if not necessarily a cinematic masterpiece. But who ever said that history has to be exiciting or uplifting? It's just what is. For that Mr. Singleton deserves the highest commendation just to get a film of this nature made let alone telling a too often suppressed and ignored part of our history. For that I give it 5 stars. However, there are many nuances to the film which I personally only recognized after multiple viewings. It's an experience that should be viewed, discussed and reflected upon. That's certainly something I can't say about much of what's coming out of Hollywood today.What I wonder about is how many actual Rosewood's have occured that have never been recorded or recognized."
SAD CHAPTER IN AMERICAN HISTORY
Tim Janson | Michigan | 02/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on actual events, Rosewood relates the events that led to as many as 150 African Americans being murdered and burned out of their homes in Rosewood, Florida in 1923, by whites from a neighboring town. All this happens because a white woman falsely accused a black man of raping her.
Truly a horrific tale, all the more so because it happened, although an accurate death count has never been determined. This sad account went unknown for many years due to a cover up as well as resident's refusal to talk abou the events. Director John Singleton probably takes a worst case scenario view of the body count and pure horror with burning bodies being hung by the neck and other such gruesome crimes.
Caught up in this chaotic story is Ving Rhames playing Mann, a former soldier who was merely passing through town and ends up having to fight for his life as well as heroically saving a number of children from the marauding racists. Don Cheadle gives an outstanding performance as a Rosewood resident who proves smarter than the rednecks.
Jon Voight plays a local business owner who is sympathetic to the blacks and for that is labeld a "_____" lover by the other whites. But Voight doesn't care and actually provides a safe harbor to several blacks after the attack begins.
Michael Rooker, who also played in Mississippi Burning gives a fine performance as sheriff Walker who while racist himself, finally realizes that the accusations were false but by then is unable to stop the mayhem. Bruce McGill is the typical, fat, white redneck as Duke Purdy.
The film is beautifully shot and John Jenson deserves a big tip of the hat for his cinematography as he captured the small-town, ramshackle look of 1920's Florida that greatly lent to the film's look of authenticity. Very powerful film. So sad yet an important film for people to watch, especially our young people as incidents like this should never be forgotten."
A Very Powerful Movie
Deone Wilhite | 10/31/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rosewood shows what happens when hatred runs unchecked, and how one lie, combined with hate, envy, and racial enmity, led to the destruction of an African American township in Florida. As powerful as the movie is, the true story of Rosewood was probably even worse, given that the level torture, mutilation, and brutality inflicted on the Black residents of the town could never be properly put on-screen and released by a Hollywood studio. The ratings system wouldn't allow it, and movie theaters don't want their patrons to get sick and leave the theater.If there was any "silver lining" in this movie version of a horrid episode in American history, it is that Rosewood did an admirable job of reflecting what true mature manhood is all about. True manhood in the movie is shown when men (Don Cheadle & Ving Rimes) provide for, serve, and protect their families and communities from outside forces of evil that seek to destroy them. Don Cheadle's character was willing to give his life so his wife and family could escape from the lynch mob, and Mr. Mann was willing to sacrifice himself to get women, children, and elders to safety. True manhood is exhibited when Mr. Mann takes a frightened young boy, gives him responsibility, and turns him into a leader. True manhood also involves chosing to do the right thing despite your own personal prejudices and societal/peer pressure, as reflected by Jon Voight's character, and even in the brief scene of a lawman and his posse who turn back the lynch mob at the county line. False manhood is reflected by the ringleader of the lynch mob, who tried to teach his son that manhood was composed learning how to torture, shoot, and kill other humans beings like animals, as well as drinking and acting like a fool. Ultimately, his son rejected that version of manhood. Manhood may not be a popular topic in our politically correct times, but it was good to see a movie showing men exhibiting mature manhood by standing up to tyranny and evil and doing the right thing for their families and communities.Rosewood is a powerful movie that angers and saddens you when you realize the events depicted on screen actually occured (and were far worse), but also encourages you when you see how a people can survive in the midst of murderous chaos when men stand up and be men. To see the actual results of racially-inspired lynchings, torture, and murder, take a look at the lynching photography book "Without Sanctuary", or read "Rituals of Blood" by Orlando Patterson. The scenes in "Rosewood" will pale by comparison."
Powerful Unfortunate History
David Anderson | St. Cloud, MN | 02/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Rosewood", starring Jon Voight and Ving Rhames, is a gripping true story about an all African-American town that was burned by an all white lynch mob in 1923, which killed many. Its powerful message sends an eyeopening attack in audiences' hearts. The filmmakers deserve tremendous respect for deeply exploring these chain of events to such levels. This was highly necessary for people to understand the impact of violence and racism. The intensity is so groundbreaking that it forces audiences inside the movie. Their research is highly obvious, making it very educational. The movie plot is brilliant, keeping the heart and soul alive in every scene:A small town, Rosewood, is usually a peaceful, loving town. In New Years Eve 1922, everything functioned as usual. Around that time, a woman from a nearby town, Sumner, falsely accuses a black person of raping and assaulting her (it was actually a white man, but there was no rape). Once word is out, all hell breaks loose.The recreation of the town is perfect. Every detail is flawless, including the styles of the early 1920's. Every building structure and creation is flawless. The costume designs are as flawless, looking like actual 1920's clothing.The acting was intensely great. Everyone offers their own heart and soul sense into this movie, making it more powerful. Jon Voight and Ving Rhames capitalize the acting talents. This is Rhames's best role in years. His tough warrior image never fades for a second, which is very convincing. His presentd talents were wrongfully overlooked in the 1997 Acadamy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Jon Voight's role as a man who comes to terms of what a true ally is. His heartdrenching role forces audiences to feel his character's learning progress and emotions. "Rosewood" is a great movie for those looking for an factual intense drama. This will surely educate audiences about reality. This movie will become a classic in the near following years as it deserves."