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An accurate portrayal of north Florida racism as seen from a native Floridian.
tal-4929 May 2007
I am white and grew up in the county where this really happened. I remember as a child driving by the place where this community was. There was a small sign that was put up by the Florida DOT that said "Rosewood" but there was nothing there. I asked my mother why and she was unsure what to tell me. Then when this movie came out I realized what had happened. I began asking the elderly people I knew, but they did not want to talk about this except for my ex-husband's step dad. He remembered being a boy and the mob trying to get his father to join them. He refused to participate and was threatened for the future of his family. I am also ashamed to say that race relations have still not gotten a lot better here. In 1969 when I was in kindergarten, I remember being sent home due to race riots in the high school. I now live in California, and I know some people found the movie distressing. Unfortunately the south has a subculture of violence even to this day. The actors did an excellent job on this film. I am so glad that the filmmakers had the courage to take this story on. People tend to think of Florida as an integrated state because of Miami and Orlando, but central and northern Florida is still very racist. For example the African-Americans still call the whites by names such as "Mr. John" or "Miss Ellen". Then little town I grew up in ,Williston, still has the African-Americans living on one side of the railroad tracks and the whites on the other "better" side. There are some whites that are very decent people and some blacks that are of very poor character. I keep waiting and praying for the day when a person will "be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" in the words of the great Martin Luther King JR. PLEASE SEE THIS MOVIE!! If Americas can take the violence that is in video games and stupid horror movies they should be able to take the true portrayal of man's inhumanity to man in this most wonderful film!!
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Based on a true story
Petri Pelkonen5 February 2001
It all started because of a lie.Rosewood is a quiet little town in Florida.One day a white woman lies that an Afro-American man raped her.That starts a war between the blacks and whites.Bunch of racists kill innocent black people. Ving Rhames plays Mann, a new comer in town who is hunted because he's black. Jon Voight plays John Wright, the only good white man in town who tries to safe the African-American community of the town.John Singleton's Rosewood from 1997 is amazing movie about the stupidity of people.This actually happened in 1923 which sounds unbelievable.How idiotic can people be?Some people still haven't learned.Here in Finland racism only seems to grow which makes me mad.Stop being idiots! There are some very touching moments in this movie.There are moments that may bring tears in your eyes.Acting work is brilliant in the movie.Jon Voight and Ving Rhames do very powerful role works.During Rosewood I had many feelings inside me.One of them was anger.I'm white and not always so proud of it.
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well-made but hard to watch
Special-K8825 April 2002
Powerful drama is a gut-wrenching recreation of the destruction of a once prominent black town. In 1920s Florida, the town of Rosewood is built on an uneasy alliance between black and white citizens. When an influential white woman makes a false accusation that she was assaulted by a black assailant, angry white citizens form a brutal lynch mob determined to either find the culprit, or coerce other black citizens into revealing his whereabouts. The film's harsh subject matter is so vividly realized by director Singleton, and acted with such great conviction by its cast that the film is deeply unsettling and at times unbearable to watch. If you can get past that, which is no easy task, you can appreciate what a sharp, well-crafted historical drama that this really is. ***
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A long and brutal picture
Steve Pulaski9 August 2012
John Singleton's Rosewood documents the tragedy of the Rosewood Massacre in piercingly raw detail, showing us how a prosperous Florida town fell to shambles from one woman's lie, spawning over a hundred murders and massive calamity on the survivor's shoulders for years to come. This event occurred in 1923, but is usually left unprinted in history textbooks and shoved to the side as if it had never occurred. Just a few weeks ago, a gunman opened fire on patrons in a movie theater, killing twelve and wounding fifty eight. That story was the most talked about thing for the entire week and still sneaks its way into the top story.

Rosewood isn't written with anger, hostility, or a burdening grudge. It is written with its mind firmly centered on history and examination rather than shameful exploitation. The town of Rosewood was populated mainly by blacks who are also operating most of it, with the notable exception of the white grocery store owner, Mr. Wright (Jon Voight). About 1/3 of the town is white, and most have a great disdain for the blacks, which as we know by now wasn't atypical.

The film centers mainly on Mann (Ving Rhames), a World War I veteran who travels aimlessly on a horse in search of land that he is willing to pay good money for. When he shows up at a town auction and becomes one of the highest bidders, he does nothing but generate sneers and racist remarks from the patrons. Mann is, for the most part, impassive towards the criticism. One of his friends that he grows closer to over time is Don Cheadle's Sylvester, who happens to be one of the strongest character actors of this or any other decade.

The hostility towards blacks skyrockets when the mentally unstable woman, Fanny Taylor (Catherine Kellner) is triggered into a screaming frenzy repeatedly saying a black man beat her, but did not rape her. The reality is, Fanny is a victim to the abuse of her lover, who consistently throws her around and leaves her bruised and battered. Regardless, there is simply no justification for this kind of impulsiveness.

And thus, the bell begins to ring louder and for longer and the towers slowly begin to fall; the town becomes even more racially divided than before, violence breaks out in the streets, houses are burned, neighbors become enemies, and secrets holding important, valuable information are kept until it's too late. A white sheriff (Michael Rooker) has an understanding of the events that occurred with Fanny Taylor, begins to piece together that the story of the evil black man beating the white woman is a myth, but is unfortunately silent about the event until violence overwhelms the once humble town. Even Mann grows aware of the impending violence and unsafe nature of this town, and fears because of his "new" status that he will fall victim to murder.

The film touches on some other topics not usually explored in a period piece, such as how the idea of racism is spread through explicit teachings from father to son. One father teaches his son how to make a noose, and continuously reminds him that the blacks are the enemies in which the whites must take action against. This even involves the father taking the son along on trips where they go hunting, and I don't mean for animals.

Writer Gregory Poirier illustrates this story on a large, limitless canvas for John Singleton to direct with a looming challenge. There is an unusually broad amount of talent here and a plethora of characters and situations to document, and Poirier is careful never to spend too much time on one specific situation, but takes the time to balance the events out evenly. It wasn't long before this that Singleton constructed Boyz N The Hood, a film detailing the tribulations of growing up on the wrong side of the street. That appears on my list of most captivating dramas for its poignant dialog and incredible performances. Rosewood is in an entirely different league; a film that features many different scenes, all highly detailed and illustrated intricately, that is strung together by an easily understandable story.

Speaking in terms of aesthetics, the costume and set design here is lavish and meticulous. From the sets of the stores, to the simplicity of the roads, the people, the clothing, and the shops, everything is portrayed in such a refreshingly different light that it becomes indescribably powerful. The care and attention here is not only commendable, but award worthy.

Yet sadly, Rosewood, like the actual event, is a long forgotten wave in the ocean of cinema and the world. The film's hefty budget, for which I assumed was mainly used on costumes, set structures, and actors, proved unable to be recouped and went on to become a commercial failure, only seen by those brave enough to endure its tragedy with an open mind and a hungering for knowledge. This is not a movie that many will be able to digest easy. It's a long and brutal picture. But one that is masterfully done in almost every respect and one that should brew a healthy, informative conversation soon afterwards.

Starring: Jon Voight, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Bruce McGill, Loren Dean, Esther Rolle, Elise Neal, and Michael Rooker. Directed by: John Singleton.
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White Trashed
tieman643 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is a review of "Rosewood" and "Higher Learning", two films by John Singleton. The weaker of the two, "Rosewood" takes place during the 1923 race riots of Rosewood, Florida. Structured as a western, the film watches as an archetypal "Man With No Name" (Ving Rhames, literally playing a character called Mann) enters Rosewood, only to find the town's predominantly African American population living on edge with a white minority who rule with guns, badges and a bucket full of resentment.

A single incident sets the town alight: a young woman blames a black stranger for the vicious beating she received from her white husband. "He was so big!" she screams. "He was so black!" The news spreads. Local white folk begin assembling. Pretty soon a carnival atmosphere develops, whites arming themselves, getting liquored up and commencing the slaughtering of blacks. Charred corpses hang from trees, houses burn and bullets fly.

Though it pretends to be "serious" and "historical", "Rosewood" is mostly a silly cartoon. Singleton creates an African American Eden, one which would have flourished had it not been for the white man. Whites are themselves portrayed as lecherous, stupid and one dimensional. One character, played by Jon Voight, is our token "nuanced white". He's a rich landowner, sleazy, but eventually learns to "do the right thing". Elsewhere Singleton consciously reverses common African American stereotypes: all the white families are oversexed, violent, carnal or single parents. The black families, in contrast, are torn straight out of Norman Rockwell paintings, celebrating birthdays, always surrounded by a warm glow or sitting at big, family meals. Later, Mann becomes a Biblical figure, a Moses who leads surviving black folk on an exodus out of Rosewood and across a river.

Like most films "about racism", "Rosewood" has nothing to do with racism. The saviours of our victims are two landowners, the ruling class is invisible and it is specifically working class whites who are demonized. Racism, in other words, is caused by the stupid, poor, irrational lower class. But racism always has economic roots. In the US, racial policy became a means of combating worker unity by fostering conflicts and divisions between groups along racial, national, sexual or religious lines. The revitalisation of the KKK in the 1920s was itself a direct response to economic factors. Such things go back as far as the 18th century (quasi-military alliances between large corporations and governments repressed efforts to form labour unions and conduct strikes), when the ruling class pitted blacks, Indians and whites against one another to stave off insurrection. Indians, for example, were often hired as "slave catchers", whilst "strikebreakers" - workers used to replace white strikers – always came from outside the area and/or "lower" ethnic groups. This, of course, exacerbated racial tensions and disrupted communities. Where Rosewood is set, almost two generations after the abolition of slavery and the end of the American Civil War, many French Canadians, East Europeans and Africans were first introduced as strike breakers. The deliberate creation of racial and ethnic conflict was not a matter of individual employer prejudice but of capitalist class strategy. Ulimately, "Rosewood's" message is typical of all of Singleton's films: evil whites preyed on black, set them back, but now's the time for African Americans to help themselves, pull themselves up by the bootstraps, be good and earn a buck. Blacks, in other words, must now be good whites. Play the game that causes the problem and shunt the problem onto someone else.

Singleton's "Higher Learning" tells the same story, but is set in a fictional Columbus University. It contains a number of intertwined subplots and characters, the most interesting of which involves Malik Williams (Omar Epps), a black athlete who resents being forced to represent his school on the track field. The film's philosophy is articulated by Laurence Fishburne, who plays a West Indian Professor. African Americans, Fisburne essentially says, should suck it up, work hard, stop blaming people and put up with the problem. Other subplots involve shy and naive girls turning lesbian after being raped by men and a lonely confused man (Michael Rapaport, deliberately parroting DeNiro's Travis Bickle) joining a neo Nazi group. The film ends in a big, climactic orgy of blood, as most of these films do. As with Singleton's best film, "Boyz n the Hood", actor Ice Cube (and rapper Busta Rhymes) stands out. He out classes everyone. The rest of the cast overact.

While the film is right to show how racism as a system has been institutionalised within the very fabric of American social, economical, educational, and governmental institutions, and has always sought to dehumanise, devalue, and even destroy minorities and women, its ending, in which the word "unlearn" is boldly written on-screen, is completely unearned. The idea is that a "higher education" beyond "education" is the solution, that one should "unlearn" what they've been programmed to accept, but little in the film supports this theme and the statement largely comes out of left-field.

5/10 - Worth one viewing.
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The first film that I had to put my head in my mom shoudlers
DunnDeeDaGreat4 November 2001
When I first saw Rosewood at age 15, I was upset and shocked. To think that people could do to one another is shocking. Their are scenes in this movie that are hard to watch but that's part of the deepness. the film deserved some Oscar nod but sadly it went unnoticed. A important film everyone should see.
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John Singleton does Rosewood justice
Director John Singleton who's first film (Boyz 'N the Hood)left audiences in awe has once again cast an emotional spell upon his audiences. Some people have a question of how historically accurate the film itself is. With some browsing around from site to site I found that the place and time period hold true, along with with the weaponry (I was skeptical about the dual pistol action)used in the film to be weapons of the time period. Also while browsing I came across a quote from the director himself "I am concerned about absolute historical accuracy to an extent, but I am really more worried about being truthful to the essence of what happened at Rosewood... I am making a movie that people will respond to." With that in mind the general plot seemed to take course as accurately as possible, (considering the account of this event has several different death counts depending on the source)all characters used the same names as the real life people, well besides Ving Rhames' character Mann who is entirely fictional built-in to make the movie more interesting. Other than that shady character John Singleton kept to the truth and provoked a variety of emotions from his audience once again, fulfilling his goal.In the end it was a very powerful film on a tragic event.
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a very moving film
james rice26 February 2012
i just watched this movie for the first time and had to watch it a second time. i found it very moving and upsetting. i researched this story online and was amazed how accurate this story was. i am a white 43y male and to tell you the truth after watching the movie and reading about it i find myself ashamed to be a white man. i cant believe how stupid the white race is. thinking back to how we treated the African Americans, not to mention how we did our best to get rid of the native Indian's that once proudly roamed these lands. i never could figure where a race thinks they are better our have that right to live more than another race just because there skin is a different color. i would refer this movie to everyone
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race troubles in a small Florida town
helpless_dancer5 May 1999
A small town in Florida in 1922, with a black and white population, breaks out in violence and bloodshed. The reason for the trouble came about when a white woman claimed to be raped by a black man. This infuriated the white populace into going on a murderous rampage leading to the deaths of many innocent people and the near total destruction of the black section of town. A very exciting program based on a true story.
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exceptional fictionalization of a true event
MartinHafer15 February 2006
This movie is a very violent and sad movie--guaranteed to have an impact on all its viewers. Because of the serious and violent nature of the film, I would not suggest this for viewing by younger kids, though for teens it probably will be okay--provided you watch it with them and explain the context for the film.

The exact events that happened in this small town many decades ago are very vague. We know, historically, that MANY people (mostly Black-Americans) were killed by marauding gangs of whites. However, exactly WHAT sparked it and the exact events are muddled by time and the fact that there were very few living witnesses to the carnage. As a result, the ONLY reasonable way the film could be made was to create a fictionalized drama around the framework of the known events. And, as such, it is an immensely touching and effective film.
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Rooker and Cheadle are great
AKS-623 December 2000
This is probably the least known Singleton-movie -- I'd hardly heard of it before I saw it on tv last night. It's certainly not Singleton's best, and sometimes it feels like a tv movie, but it is still a good film. Rosewood is no easy film to sit through; watching a lynch mob murder innocent people (and knowing it is based on a true story) is almost physically painful -- but that also makes the film important.

So, as I said, the film is good, as is the cast. John Voight is good, and both Don Cheadle and Michael Rooker delivers nice performances -- as always. I'd like to see Cheadle and Rooker in more leads, though, they're too good to always play supporting roles. (6/10)
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events that led up to other unpleasant things
Lee Eisenberg2 June 2007
Part of what makes "Rosewood" so hard to watch - but I recommend it very much - is not only that it really happened, but also the thought that the events portrayed may have partly been the root of what happened in Florida in 2000. With this vicious racism so deeply ingrained in our society, it's no surprise that Florida's government deprived a number of African-Americans of their right to vote. For more information about these sorts of things, read James Loewen's book "Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong".

But anyway, this is a great (and I would say under-appreciated) movie. Jon Voight, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Michael Rooker and Muse Watson all do a great job in their roles. Definitely one of John Singleton's really good ones.
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Well Intended
daddyofduke2 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Rosewood, directed by John Singleton, is one of those movies that you should have seen when it first came out in 1997, but you didn't. In fact, you probably never even heard of it. I know that I didn't. Totally by accident, I saw it the other night. Fortunately.

The film is based on an actual race riot that erupted in Rosewood, Florida in 1923, fueled by a false claim by a white woman living in the near by town of Sumner that she had been beaten by an African American man. Rosewood was a town owned primarily by its black residents. The woman was definitely beaten, but by her Caucasian lover who was not her Caucasian husband. She never did claim rape; the white vigilante mob did that for her. The horrific violence, and the mass murders that ensued, left the town burned to the ground, never to be rebuilt or inhabited again.

There are excellent performances here. Jon Voight plays John Wright, a conflicted store owner, and one of the white few white people who lives in Rosewood. Although married to a loving, church going woman, he enjoys nailing his 17 year old black female clerk. He would later help scores of black people escape the catastrophic dimensions of hate portrayed in this film. Don Cheadle, as Sylvester Carrier, is his usual brilliant self, portraying a reasoned and reasonable man who ultimately endures. Esther Rolle, equally poignant, plays Carrier's Aunt Sarah, who does not. Bruce McGill, whose performances I always enjoy (and who you may remember as the motorcycle hood in Animal House, and more recently as the fight promoter in Cinderella Man, among other fine roles) is one of the primary racist instigators of the film. His evilness allows him to teach his son how to tie a noose.

Michael Rooker plays the sheriff who never really believed the victim's story to begin with, and who tries to mitigate the tsunami of hate and the enormity of damage it extols. Rooker is a great actor. He had searing performances in Eight Men Out and in Mississippi Burning, in which incidentally, he played a racist murderer of civil rights workers. He also excelled as the murderous husband in Sea of Love. He does an excellent job in this film as well, although I do wish there were a couple of less scenes where he wasn't struggling so with his chewing tobacco.

Ving Rhames inhabits a character whose name is simply Mann, suggesting a commentary on the conduct of man in general. At least I think it does. The real problem is that Rhames' character is totally made up. There is no such person. Never was. Of all the horrors outlined in this well intentioned, and for the most part well executed film, Director Singleton and screenwriter Gregory Poirer apparently felt the need to create a character, and a major one at that, who never existed. To me, that seriously undermines the film's essence and challenges its credibility. What happened at Rosewood was unspeakable. Do we really need an imaginary person to utter the unspeakable when there were real people whose real perspectives would have been more compelling?

Mann is someone we really don't get to know very well. We do learn that he is a veteran of World War I and has some money. We know he has scars around his neck but we don't know how he got them. We learn that he is brave and has a good heart. Unfortunately, Rhames' performance is stilted and muffled. He speaks his lines at times as if he had just memorized them. No nuance. No believable emotion.

According to the film, and to subsequent histories of the incident, the official version of events documents eight deaths. The film suggests a far more likely number, as high as 100 or so. The problem is, incredibly, after the initial national coverage of the riot, the event ceased to exist. Survivors refused to discuss what happened. Consequently, the riot was never formally documented as part of our history, not until the 1990s when members of the media began to resurrect the events. A law suit eventually ensued, resulting in Florida being the first state ordered to pay reparations to survivors and their descendants for a race riot.

I suppose it is predictable that Rosewood did not make much money. People just didn't go see it. They should have. I know I should have. I'm glad I finally did. Even if it was by accident.
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An exceptionally well-written and acted film of great historical importance
dimplet11 July 2011
When something unspeakably shameful has happened in your nation's history, you must face it honestly, objectively placing blame where it belongs. But more important, you need to understand why it happened.

That's what the film "Rosewood" tries to explain: How could it happen? It is not something easily explained in words, the darkness that can come over an entire community, turning people who might otherwise give you the shirt off their back into a rampaging, murdering mob.

A sociologist might write a book; director John Singleton and writer Gregory Poirier take you back in time 90 years and put you in rural Florida, where you witness the events unfold.

We see the county sheriff try, clumsily, to do his job, but things spin out of control. He suspects the truth, but what can he do? Later in the film he is accused by the judge of being too sympathetic to blacks. The judge probably was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, which show up later with their rifles and robes. Those in the mob who are not sufficiently violent are labeled "nigger lovers." Many of the rest are fueled by liquid courage. Even if someone had second thoughts and tried to stop it, the mob was out of control, and might have killed you.

We see a church baptism group morph into a lynch mob, a reminder that most Christian churches in the South did little to oppose racism until recently.

We see lynchings and a mass grave, combined with mutilations and body parts taken as souvenirs, and parents forcing their children to witness the lynchings. We see Voight as he watches McGill teach his son to make a noose as black homes burn around them. This is a portrait of Southern racism. "You've got to be taught."

We see a poor white town neighboring a relatively affluent black town. Some reviewers are skeptical, but it seems plausible to me. There were substantial black-owned industries in Rosewood. (And there were other affluent all-black towns in America.) This resentment may well have intensified the racism. But how do you explain racism, itself? Fear and violence were essential to preserving segregation, which economically benefited whites, even, and especially, the poor white trash.

We see some whites standing up against the madness: the armed men at the county line, the two train engineers, the Wrights.

How closely do the events portrayed match history? When I looked online several years ago, it seemed, incorrectly, there were many discrepancies. (I wonder if reviewers were also misled.) I learned there were actually two black towns in the area that were destroyed by whites around the same period. John Wright was largely missing from that account, but not the current Wikipedia version:

"Many survivors boarded the train after having been hidden by white general store owner John Wright and his wife, Mary Jo. Over the next several days, other Rosewood residents fled to Wright's house, facilitated by Sheriff Walker, who asked Wright to transport as many residents out of town as possible."

It appears now from the Wikipedia article that the fundamental elements correspond surprisingly closely -- and the sheriff looks a bit more sympathetic. Still, when you watch a movie like this, "based on historical events," it is vital you read up on the true story. Some movies are 99 percent nonsense, like "Mississippi Burning" -- the actual case took an FBI agent about 15 minutes to solve.

"Rosewood" is an exceptionally well-written film that brings you into the lives of the community and weaves together the story of their relationships smoothly and believably. You care about them by the time all hell breaks loose. The result is powerful, but not manipulative, cinema.

The acting is very fine, down to the smallest roles, and sometimes exceptional, such as Bruce McGill, who plays the detestable racist drunk. (You hated him, didn't you?) With the beard you might not recognize him from Quantum Leap, where he played God in the final episode. McGill is the central figure among the racists, Ving Rhames ("Dave") anchors the story from the black side, while Jon Voight ("Odessa File," "Conrack") represents the white conscience, as weak and wavering as it is. Music is by the great John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, etc.).

Whether the movie perfectly matches the historical incidents perfectly is secondary. There were other Rosewoods in America, and I feel it is trying to tell their stories, too; you get the feeling they probably all follow a similar pattern: a false or exaggerated accusation by a white woman, etc.

Florida during that period had the highest per capita rate of black lynchings of any state in the South. If anything, "Rosewood" may have understated the problem. But not all whites were racists. The problem was the Klan intimidated whites as well as blacks.

But the bottom line is "Rosewood" is a brutally honest account of a shameful episode in American history. For that honesty, and that so much great talent came together to make this movie, I, as an American, am proud.

For foreigners reading this review, I lived for many years in the South, including Florida, and I can assure you race relations have changed enormously (though all is not perfect), in part because we, as a nation, have been honest about our past. Look up the Rosewood Massacre online. Please read about the history of racism and the civil rights movement in America. That is the lesson I hope other nations will gain from this movie: If you are honest about your past, you no longer have to be ashamed of it.

But there is more to be told. I hope that one day someone, perhaps John Singleton, will make a movie about Harry T. Moore, one of the great unsung heroes of the civil rights movement.
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Raw and veracious
kinslerz22 June 2011
An extremely emotional film. John Singleton did an excellent job with picture, and Gregory Poirier wrote beautifully with his dialogue. I felt as if the children actors were outstanding beyond belief. Maybe I'm giving this film a biased a review since I'm still excited having just watch it. However, this film is so powerful in it's teachings. It was veracious in it's character reactions and set. You end up hating characters with every fiber in your being, and you end up feeling so proud of those who exude so much courage. I was going to give a nine due to some parts I dubbed too 'Hollywood' for me, however I feel as if this movie's moral lessons have left a mark on my mind. The minuscule 'Hollywood' aspects in no way out-way the brilliance in every other manner.
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Underrated, should have gotten an Oscar
FrankBooth_DeLarge30 January 2005
This movie has a great point to it. I saw it in American History class at school because the teacher wanted to show it to us as an impact film. This is based on a tragic time in our history that went missing for a while. A town in Florida that was inhabited mostly by African Americans was burned to the ground, and the survivors of this terrible disaster were so traumatized by it that no one new about it until the 1980's. A reporter was finding out why there was a lack of black citizens in that area of Florida, but when this reporter found out about everything, it was more than one could expect to find.

The movie takes place in 1923 in a town in Florida called Rosewood. During the time, there was much hatred and racism towards the African Americans. In the movie, a false claim made by a white woman starts a series of race riots that eventually leads to a great disaster.

Everything about the movie is true except for the character of Mr. Mann(played by Vingh Rames). This is a very exciting movie from the director of Boyz N The Hood, and I strongly recommend it.
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Intense and Sad
Shari24 March 2004
I saw this movie in my African American Experience class in 12th grade. It was incredibly saddening to know that such hatred exists within this country. The fact that it's a true story makes it worse. Bout time movies like this are being made despite the discomfort to others. Black history should not be denied because whites or anyone else feels uncomfortable or guilty at the end of a film. No one should be robbed of their history because it makes you "feel bad". The fear and isolation are undoubtedly felt through the black characters. To live in absolute fear for your life because of your skin color is perceptible even today. This story forces people to reconcile with the past to avoid further instances in the future. Not to make people feel guilty. Besides, minorities have felt bad in movies for a long time and nobody gave a damn as long as you know who looks good. I'm not militant or whatever else comes to mind. This movie is excellent because it shows a true story in historical fashion. Everyone did an excellent job. I felt anger and I'm sure that wasn't by accident. Jon V. was really convincing. I'm a big fan of his and he really made me dislike him. Just the very events of having a system of hatred set up against someone so that they don't get a chance is played out well in this film. Please do watch and get a little perspective.
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N*gger is just another word for guilty.
lastliberal13 July 2007
Less than 100 miles away from me is a town that is a reminder of the hatred that exists in those who grew up in the rural South. I just read Olympia Vernon's book on a similar subject, so it is fresh in my mind. The inhumanity of man towards our fellow man is incomprehensible to me. Whether it is Schindler's List or Rosewood, it is hard to understand. We only have each other, and to think than any one of us is better than the other is pure crap.

This film hits hard. It will move you to tears and anger you at how some people close by are seething with hatred. I would even go so far as to say that if it doesn't viscerally affect you, then you are either dead or part of the problem.

The film itself features outstanding performances by Ving Rhames, Jon Voight, Don Cheadle, Esther Rolle and many others. Their work will hopefully inform the viewer of this great tragedy and remind them that it is not something in the past. Florida's election fiasco of 2000 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina serve as evidence that the State and federal government is full of racists who continue these acts today.
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Great film
scottk-169 November 2005
I don't usually comment on movies but on the occasion of the viewing of "Rosewood" I have to say something. I don't know when I've been angered (and I mean really angered) and saddened by a movie more. I understand that this movie depicts events that took place in an earlier time and place, but I also am puzzled that such despicable events could have taken place in the United States of America. That such events happened in the Land where all men are created equal is so appalling as to almost be repugnant. The intolerance of men is depicted so vividly as to almost make one ill. If I've given the impression that this isn't a great movie and one that demands to be seen, I apologize. Everything about this movie, as hard as some parts are to watch, shouts "you must watch me." Several of the key roles were superbly acted. I enjoyed Ving Rhames in the starring role as Mann immensely. It was especially enjoyable to see John Voight play John Wright, a white man in southern, rural, Florida with such compassion for his fellow man. Both Esther Rolle & Don Cheadle had superb turns in what were supporting yet pivotal roles as well. I was quite blown away by the power of this story and cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone who believes that man's inhumanity to man doesn't exist.
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Though historical accuracy has been called into question this is, nevertheless, a recounting of events that must not be forgotten.
bayou5229 July 2000
Anyone viewing John Singleton's account of the horrendous events that took place in Rosewood, Florida in the 1920's will be unable to escape powerful emotions, regardless of their attitudes on racial issues. Historical accounts of this atrocity are sketchy--likely due, in part, to efforts made to cover up the crimes--with estimates of the body count running from single to double digits. Singleton's presentation clearly assumes a worst case scenario. Further, some of the characters are highly stereotypical. Seizing one of America's many historical disgraces he produces an explosive story of racial oppression, bigotry and ignorance and leaves no stone unturned in putting the viewer through emotional cataclysm. I was exhausted when it was over. Regardless, having said that, I must say to John Singleton, "Bravo!" The film was a winner. I say this in the face of previous comments because it doesn't matter whether it was stereotypical, exaggerated or purposely provocative. Whether the body count was 1 or 100, the horrifying, inescapable fact is that it happened, and it is unlikely that anyone watching this powerful re-telling will soon forget it...and that's the point. Like the Holocost (which some now dare say didn't even happen at all) these events and others like them must never be forgotten. I dust this movie off and pop it into the VCR at least once a year, along with "Schindler's List" to make sure my rusting, aging brain remains ever aware of the darkest as well as the brightest aspects of the human creature.
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Abysmal & shamefully pandering recreation of the event.
tehhaxxor14 November 2007
In 1923, a village called Rosewood consisting of somewhere around twenty to thirty black families was attacked. Many lost their homes, some lost their lives.

Historians have argued about the specifics for years now. Some say the rash of attacks against whites perpetuated by blacks leading up to the Rosewood attack is insignificant because the black suspects were framed by racist whites. To others, the burning of the village and subsequent murders of at least six blacks are justified because of the considerable rise in black crime.

This story had all the earmarks of becoming a memorable feature film. It had a small gathering of sympathetic characters, a hoard of evil antagonists, and most especially an extra heaping of abject tragedy.

Unfortunately, the film is horrendously one-sided as it depicts nearly every white person as bloodthirsty savages bent on absolute hatred, while the black people appear as radiant beacons of righteousness. The story essentially is told from the viewpoint of the very models of propriety (the blacks) set against the fierce malevolence of humanity's abominations (the whites).

It's a puerile and half-hearted attempt at framing what at it's heart is a very real and horrifying picture of cruel annihilation. There are good and bad people in every social strata, and to stereotype an entire race (even within the context of but one film) is narrow-minded and ironically racist in itself.

Sure, you have Jon Voight portraying the token "good" white by trying to save many of the blacks that frequent his general store - but even he's a scumbag. He brazenly carries on with a young black girl and has a mean disposition.

You also have Ving Rhames playing the ubiquitous Hollywood "badass" who aids in the defense of the village by fighting the attacking whites off with two pistols, one in each hand, channeling his best knock-off of classic John Woo action.

I could forgive much of this if, in the end, we were left with an overall enjoyable film. Sadly, this piece of celluloid stinks like month old meatloaf. It's banal, derivative, and worst of all - unconditionally forgettable.
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msdior9826 October 2005
i have seen this movie, and i as a black woman, am outrage at the fact that white people could be so, hateful, ignorant,to people whom have rightfully and respectfully own and bought their own land and businesses, it is a shame how they took their children and taught them how to kill black people, picnics and having a good time while killing someone and women and kids. And they expected to go to heaven......its was a great movie for them to sit down and watch what they have done to us,let their children sit down ans watch how their ancestors really were.How could they sleep at night? What if we did what they did to us to them? White people today, have a lot to fear, by meaning, they did harm to every race almost there is, Indians,blacks, Jews, and their own kind, they are a very confused race, because they really don't have no race of their own, they to are mixed, but fail to realize that, but i pray for them because they need it......god bless
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Black lynch in Florida, 1923
esteban174711 May 2005
It is always good to learn historical facts, and "Rosewood" seems to be an evidence of something shameful, which happened in 1923 in a place of Florida state. The first time I saw the film was already in its middle, so immediately I thought that the plot was about the apartheid in South Africa, a big mistake from my part because it was really about another type of apartheid but this time made in Florida, US. The second time I saw it completely, it clearly showed me the level of discrimination imposed on black population. The motivation of this racist lynch seems to be somewhat innocent, i.e. a woman claiming that she was raped by a black man, something that was not true, and for sure all white knew the ethic quality of the woman, so they did not believe either. Certainly there must be other motivations to apply such a violence against black people, which was severely applied no matter if they were old and children. The black actors Ving Rhames and Dan Cheadle played very well as heroes of the film together with the experienced Jon Voight, the only white supporting the cause of the blacks.
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Very Good, Sad, but very good.
LebowskiT100029 July 2002
This is the kind of film that makes you so angry at racism and bigotry. It truly saddens me that people can be and were so ignorant. What makes this story so good is that it is based on actual events. The story is basically about this small southern town that consists mostly of blacks that just gets annihilated and torn apart by a mob of people looking for a man that has been accused of raping a woman.

The cast is absolutely great throughout the film. Ving Rhames, Jon Voight, Don Cheadle, Bruce McGill, Loren Dean and Michael Rooker all do a great job with their parts. Also, Robert Patrick has a small role in the film, but does a good job with it as well. The rest of the cast is very good as well.

Other than the film being a tad on the lengthy-side, the film is very well done and moves along very well. There are a few scenes in particular that are really quite cool and VERY well directed! If you are the kind of person that likes drama's about America's history or you just like any of the actors mentioned above, then hopefully you'll like this film. I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did. Thanks for reading,

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Uneven but affecting
NateWatchesCoolMovies11 July 2016
John Singleton's Rosewood is a partly fictionalized, greatly dramatized retelling of one of the largest lynchings and subsequent conflicts in American history. The time is 1923, the place is Rosewood, a small southern town populated largely by African communities. When borderline insane local housewife Fanny (Catherine Kellner) is caught in the midst of a violent sexual fling, a young black man accidentally stumbles upon the scene. Being the crazy bitch she is, she melodramatically pins it on him, inciting the wrath of the town. The real culprit was of course a white dude, played briefly by Robert Patrick before fleeing the county for good. Because of this selfish misdirection, every white man and his mother now wants the boy hung, and it escalates with the speed of a prairie fire until a full scale race war rages through Rosewood. A lone mercenary called Mann (Ving Rhames) happens to be around and lends his quickdraw talents to the townsfolk who are being hunted. The sheriff (Michael Rooker) is somewhat of a pushover, and unable to quell the mob anyway, especially when it's led by a rabid Bruce McGill, who is scary and then some. The only white boy who has anything but ropes or torches to offer these poor folks is a kindly store owner played by Jon Voight, who shelters a group of them on his property, much to the mob's anger. Voight's character is odd; when we meet him he is in heated coitus with one of his shopkeeps, a young African girl. It's later revealed that she's afraid of him. Despite this dark piece of his arc, Singleton treats him as a hero, begging the question, were there scenes cut that elaborated on his relationship with her? Such imbalances in tone can be found in the story as well: much of the film is treated with a combination of severe melodrama and true crime drama, speckled here and there with jarring little bits of pulp that feel like they're from a Django type flick. Wouldn't have been the narrative mix I would have used, but perhaps Singleton's hand slipped and too much of an aspect fell in which he only ever meant as a subtle garnish. Nevertheless, it's very solidly made, wherever it sits on the genre map, with all the actors, particularly the African townsfolk, shining nicely. It's disturbing as well, with the black body count reaching sickening heights and the racist fever at a vicious spike in temperature. It's a scary scenario when the hunters greatly outnumber the hunted, and mass deaths are imminent, especially when such anger is involved. Sympathy is earned in spades from the viewer, as well as the urge to look away at least a few different times. I haven't done my research on the real story so I couldn't tell you where it falls on the authenticity charts, but I suspect a great deal of it has been exaggerated for effect and impact. In that, it succeeds, if faltering in tone a few times to puzzle the viewer, before getting back on track.
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