Mississippi Burning - Opening Sequence

Good Essays
Describe the beginning of your visual text. Explain how visual and/or verbal features make the beginning effective.

“Hatred isn’t something you’re born with, it gets taught.” In the visual text Mississippi Burning these powerful words are reflected in the opening sequence. The opening sequence is made up of three key scenes, the drinking fountain scene, the burning church scene and the chase scene. These three scenes are effective because it establishes the central theme of the film. The director, Alan Parker, uses visual and verbal techniques such as symbolism, lighting and music to portray the idea of man’s inhumanity to man.

Mississippi Burning is set in Mississippi in 1964 when there was a lot of racial tension. This small town was controlled by the Ku Klux Klan who were a group of racist extremists willing to kill for what they believed. Black people lived in fear of the KKK. The protagonists, Alan Ward and Rupert Anderson, are introduced to us when three civil rights workers go missing and the FBI are sent down to find the bodies and ultimately the murderers. They find themselves battling the KKK and half of Mississippi who think the whole thing is “Just a big hoax”.

The drinking fountain scene is effective because it introduces us to the main theme in this movie – man’s inhumanity to man. This scene is filled with symbols and techniques that show us the division between black and white. The first thing we notice as a viewer are the two drinking fountains, one labeled white and one coloured presented to us in a mid-shot. The white one a newer more fancy hand operated model and the black one a less fancy fountain with constant stream of water. The white one being hand operated suggests that the white man has the power to control events and that the coloured drinking fountain being continuously on suggests black people are powerless. If you are coloured you can only have what is handed to you but the white people live with a choice. White people are

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