|Mississippi Burning - Response
Answer each of the following questions in relation to your viewing of the film.
1. Consider these opening images:
• the white man drinking from one tap, the black boy drinking from another,
• the burning wooden house,
• the sound of gospel singing,
• the car on the road at night,
• the car being followed.
What do you learn from these images?
2. When FBI agents Anderson and Ward drive into Jessup Town, Mississippi, what do the visuals tell you about the town?
3. Sheriff Stuckey’s character is established through his appearance, his speech and what he says. What do we learn about his character from his introduction in the film?
4. Who were the boys who were killed at the beginning and what was their history?
5. When Special Agent Ward eats in the area of the diner reserved for the blacks, we learn several things. What are they?
6. Explain what you think is meant by Ward’s comment to Anderson: “Some things are worth dying for” and the reply, “Some things are worth killing for”.
7. Of what significance is Anderson’s story about his father and the mule?
8. List the various groups of people that Clayton Townley of the Ku Klux Klan says he stands against. What do you know to be true about him from this list?
9. Two events mark the turning points in the film. The first one is the result of the court case. What is the second one? What change does this second event cause in Ward, in particular?
10. At one point Ward says, “Anyone’s guilty who watches this happen and pretends it isn’t.” To what is he referring? Explain.
11. What have you learned about American Civil Rights History based on this film? Think about each of the following categories:
12. Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_Burning and read the sections on Historical Background and Critical Reaction. Does reading this information change your impression of what we can learn from this film about the Civil Rights Movement in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s? Why/why not?