Ghosts of Mississippi is a real-life drama covering the final trial of Byron De La Beckwith, the assassin of heroic civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The movie begins with the murder on June 12, 1963 and the events surrounding the two initial trials which both ended in hung juries. The movie then covers district attorney Bobby De Laughter's transformation and alliance with Myrlie Evers, Medgar Evers' widow, as he becomes more involved with bringing Beckwith to trial for the third time 30 years later. Byron De La Beckwith was convicted on February 5, 1994, after having remained a free man for much of the 30 years after the murder, giving justice for Medgar Evers' family. Written by
Joel Schesser <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In his speech heard at the beginning, President John F. Kennedy uses the word "delay" twice. "Delay" is the character Byron De La Beckwith's nickname, used by his friends and acquaintances throughout this film. See more »
Although the film begins in 1989 and ends in 1994, the same child actors portraying Bobby DeLaughter's children are used from the beginning of the movie until the end, showing no signs of aging. See more »
I love the land of my birth. I do not mean just America as a country, but Mississippi - the State in which I was born.
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Based on fact and directed by Rob Reiner, Ghosts recounts the investigation, and retrial in 1994 - after two mistrials in the 60s - of Byron de la Beckwith for the racist shooting in 1963 of Medgar Evers, an NAACP activist. The film has gained renewed topicality with the recent conviction of another white supremacist for the Birmingham, Alabama, Baptist Church bombing, also in 1963.
Alec Baldwin gives a solid, and sometimes stolid, performance in the central role of prosecuting DA, Bobby DeLaughter (pronounced DeLaw), himself from Mississippi's white uppercrust, whose marriage hits the rocks because of his pursuit of the case. James Woods, convincingly made up to look over 70 for most of the movie, is electrifying as the arrogant, hateful Beckwith. Whoopi Goldberg portrays Medgar's widow with a lot of dignity and even a touch of humour, but it would have been understandable if she had also displayed a little more bitterness.
The movie is possibly not as powerful as Reiner hoped, partly no doubt because he was restricted by the facts. In particular, the retrial seems to have thrown up little or no new evidence, thus making the courtroom action less dramatic than in a fictional movie. Perhaps a greater criticism is that the intense focus on Baldwin/DeLaughter, who is in almost every scene, tends to turn him into the hero of the movie; whereas it should be Medgar Evers, who as a civil rights activist in one of the most bigoted areas of the USA deserves everyone's undying admiration.
Despite the movie's flaws, it is gripping for most of its 130 minutes, and this was certainly a story worth telling.
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