The Ku Klux Klan in the southern states of the USA in 1964 is presented to the viewer in Mississippi Burning (1988). Along with racism, director Alan Parker also illustrates corruption within the film. A sub-issue presented is the powerful effect and pain of murder. Additionally, Alan Parker demonstrates justice in the final shots, which assemble his resolution. The issues that Alan Parker successfully demonstrates throughout the film attract the viewer’s attention through its entertainment value while enabling the viewer to reflect on the ideas in context through the demonstrated techniques. Racism is undoubtedly the primary issue in the film and is most effectively presented through an audio code in the opening shots of the film.
After the car with the black man and two white civil rights workers is pulled over by what seems to be police vehicles, one of the police officers points a revolver at one of the civil rights workers’ head and pulls the trigger. The viewer glimpses a shot of brains sprayed across the other man’s face, and then the screen goes blank. At this time, we hear the sound of the police officer saying, I got me a nigger.” This introduces racism to the film and reveals the theme for the remaining context.
Alan Parker illustrates murder best throughout the film through symbolic and technical codes. In the opening shots, the man was killed, and the viewer glimpsed the brains across the man’s friend, then the screen went blank. The quick altering of transitions represented that the murder was quick, and the blank screen is symbolic of death. The symbolic code was used in the shots when the Black man was hanged in front of the burning church, with the fire being symbolic of hell.
The close-up of the man’s feet swinging from fast to slow is a symbolic code of body language and was used successfully. Although corruption is occurring in the opening shots, the most expressive example of it is revealed by an audio code when one FBI agent is viewed singing a song to the other. The song is an anti-black White supremacist song. The ironic fact is that the people who are supposed to protect the blacks against violent White supremacists are White supremacists themselves. Justice is represented in this film as the resolution. Alan used a combination of technical and written code to achieve this.
He used a technical element of first-person view in a photo with each member of the Ku Klux Klan, then added a written element by stating their name and sentence. This combination successfully summarized the investigation on which the movie was based. The brilliance of Alan Parker and the issues faced by the southern states of the USA in 1964 have not only formed an entertaining film but also a movie that successfully makes the viewer think and reflect on the text through the techniques used.