Ghosts of Mississippi

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: -1 1/2

The heartbreaking story of civil rights activist Medgar Evers' 1963 assassination makes for a compelling dramatic film. Set in Jackson, Mississippi, it begins in 1989 with Assistant District Attorney Bobby Delaughter (Alec Baldwin) and Evers' widow, Myrlie (Whoopi Goldberg) reopening the case. Although white racist Byron Beckwith (James Woods) was tried twice in the '60s, mistrials were declared both times. Reconstructing 25-year-old evidence proves to be almost impossible, as all but the preliminary police report has mysteriously disappeared. It takes Bobby until 1994 to bring the case back to court. Meanwhile, Bobby's wife deserts him and their three young children. A bomb threat, reluctant witnesses and former friends turning against him heighten the suspense. A subdued Goldberg plays Myrlie with dignity and intelligence, while Baldwin is convincing as a man deeply committed to justice being served. Woods plays the cocky, cowardly Beckwith with gusto. High school age and older audiences will appreciate this true story.

Through two flashbacks, the brutal murder of Evers is flashed across the screen as he is shot in the driveway of his own home. The gory, horrific scene is important to the story, but the foul language is not, even though it probably is realistic. The s-word is used 10 times and many crude words and four regular profanities are spoken. The n-word is used many times by white racists to show their contempt for black Americans. There is no sex or nudity and only one slightly suggestive gesture by a minor character. Bobby strongly identifies with Evers as a loving father who wants to make Mississippi a better place for his children. They are both deeply rooted in the South and have no intention of being forced out by bigots. It is heartwarming to see hundreds of racially mixed citizens cheering when Beckwith is finally convicted. This is an engrossing film showing the anguish created by hate and a brave attempt to right old wrongs. Unfortunately, some offensive language was employed to tell this story.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Columbia Pictures (Castle Rock Entertainment), 10202 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (22) times - Mild 16, Moderate 6

Obscene Language: Many (10) times - S-words

Profanity: Few (4) times - Regular (J 1, GD 3)

Violence: Few times - Moderate and Severe (gory, graphic scene of man shot in back, boys in fist fight)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Once (woman comically grabs man's buttocks)

Drugs: Few times (alcohol drinking and smoking)

Other: Apparently accurate but unverified docudrama; strong theme of justice; racial intolerance viewed as unacceptable; n-word used 12 times

Running Time: 123 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teenagers and adults

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