Friday, July 11, 2003

Mississippi Burning

I watched this film for the second time last night. The first time was years ago, and I knew virtually nothing of the background and thought it was ok. Not that I remember much of it. Then I picked it up in DVD format in a bargain bin. Partly because I wanted to see it again (I had just watched several documentaries about the Civil Rights movement), and partly because I think Gene Hackman is a good actor, and partly because it was the third DVD of a buy 2 get 1 free offer in said bargain bin.

I am generally wary of any 'true-life' film. Holloywood does like its own input, and so the most I expect from Hollywood films like this one is a sense of realistic atmostphere. Low expectations for Hollywood films are, imo, essential if you want to regularly enjoy yourself at the cinema. They have meant that I have passed many hours more entertained than many of my friends. This film is not, I think, any great exception to this rule, though I liked the character Gene Hackman played if only for the outrageous accent (I have no idea what Gene Hackman's ordinary accent is). It sounded like a cross between a Cockney and a Scouser and a Texan to my ears, a most unique concoction.

I did think that the way this film portrayed atmosphere was excellent. However, I also find it a useful reminder about some of the imperfetions of the US. Now I am not going to embark on a 'bash-the-US' spree. I have great respect for the US, but I am hardly blind to her faults, past and present. I think films such as these are useful reminders that terrible things can happen even in democracies, and that precisely because they happen in democracies such crimes are more obscene than conducted in a dictatorship. Tyrants at least have a basic honesty of purpose, whereas those that corrupt democracy strike at the heart of what makes our society what it is.

Next year the EU will be admitting 10 new members. A number of these have large Roma minorities that are systemmatically (if informally) discriminated and segregated from the mainstream. In my own country I fear the same thing but slowly be starting to occur with 'asylum-seekers'. In certain parts of the US I think these threats probably remain very real.

An average film, but one that had produced a considerable amount of waffle, some of which I hope makes sense, and might even be ... relevant!

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