"My old man was just so full of hate that he didn't know that bein' poor was what was killin' him." - Rupert Anderson
Mississippi Burning" takes us back to a time where America was divided over color. It takes us to a small town where color was the only reason to wreak havoc. It teaches us how ignorance coupled with hatred could burn a place into ashes. It takes place in the year 1964 in the Jessup County of Mississippi, just another sleepy little Southern county with farmers and religious people. Back then it was just another White dominated county that still believed in dividing its water coolers for the whites and the colored. It finds itself in the news for the disappearance of three civil right workers who had come to town to enlighten the colored folks of their right to vote. A shocking opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie, and scene by scene the same intensity is maintained.
It always gives us goosebumps to watch great actors immerse themselves in their roles, as Rupert Anderson, Gene Hackman goes on to give a sterling performance, a tour de force where he leaves us stunned with his brilliant portrayal. He starts out as the wisecracking federal agent who follows orders to the distinguished Ward, and as the movie progresses he shifts gears into a domineering ruthless fed who plays the game by his own rules as Ward helplessly plays second fiddle to Anderson. This is one of Hackman's finest performances on screen which makes us wonder why he never won an Oscar for this. Gifted with great dialogues and a wonderfully etched out Anderson, Hackman makes the most of it. It is still a point to ponder over why Hackman's name is not taken in the same breath as Pacino, Deniro, Nicholson or a Brando.