Berlinale: Programme

Film File


Mississippi Burning

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Mississippi, 1964. After driving through the night from the north, three young civil rights activists – two white and one black – disappear without a trace. Young FBI agent Alan Ward and his partner, Mississippian Rupert Anderson, are sent to investigate. But their inquiries are met with resistance at every turn, by racist locals, intimidated African-Americans, and first and foremost, the local sheriff and the mayor, who at a bare minimum sympathise with the Ku Klux Klan, possibly worse. When the FBI agents find the missing activists’ burnt-out car, they assume murder … Willem Dafoe plays the younger fed as a hothead who fearlessly, but somewhat naively, trusts that good will prevail with the proper application of ideals and the penal code, leading his enemies to mock him as a ‘liberal pussy’. And yet it is largely his actions that keep the plot of the political thriller moving, until he turns over the reins to the initially cautious, then increasingly resolute Anderson. Dafoe’s performance is more than a match for that of Gene Hackman, who won a Silver Bear at the 1989 Berlinale.

USA 1988


120’ · Colour · 35 mm

Rating R12


Gene Hackman
Willem Dafoe
Frances McDormand
Brad Dourif
R. Lee Ermey
Gailard Sartain
Stephen Tobolowsky
Michael Rooker
Pruitt Taylor Vince
Badja Djola
Kevin Dunn


Alan Parker
Chris Gerolmo
Director of Photography
Peter Biziou
Gerry Hambling
Trevor Jones
Danny Michael
Production Design
Philip Harrison, Geoffrey Kirkland
Art Director
John Willett
Aude Bronson-Howard
David Craig Forrest
Frederick Zollo, Robert F. Colesberry

Produced by

Orion Pictures Corp.