Mississippi Burning (1988) is a hard hitting action drama designed to shock and educate the viewers on the topics of racism, justice and the law. When three people are killed in the state of Mississippi, two FBI agents are sent in to investigate, only to find out that people are being terrorised brutally in an unfair justice system. Using tactics that are considered ‘low’, they find a way to arrest those responsible in a federal court because the state courts were unjust. The events and convections used help to teach the viewer, get them thinking about the topics raised but at the same time amuse them and keep them entertained with the suspense and slight horror of the film.
Racism is a major issue that takes place in the film, it is viewed negatively and the director Alan Parker attempts to show to the audience the downsides and how devastating it is, how unfair it can be. The constant, terrorizing attacks against black people by the KKK in are horrific and cruel. Innocent people are killed and homes are put in flames or destroyed for no other reason than the fact that a group of people are racist against others. Film codes used help to place a negative feel in some of these scenes like the use of fire, symbolising evil towards the racist acts. The music performed as well by the black community show the great amount of sadness the people have to suffer. Many various camera shots/angles and lighting for separate scenes change the feeling and the mood. This use of film convections affect the views and opinions of the viewer’s towards the subject of racism, helping people understand the negative of it.
Another issue raised in the film Mississippi Burning is the justice system and how unfair the law can be. The film shows to the audience ways that the courts and law can be bias against black people and why sometimes justice cannot always occur. When three of the suspected people responsible for the racist attacks are put on trial in the state