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A Time To Kill Racism Essay

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In John Grishams’ (1996) film “A Time to Kill” issues surrounding the racism in the Deep South take place and based on a true life experience of John Grisham. The novel, like the movie, opens with a very brutal rape scene. It’s the socio-politics that give this film an energetic and confrontational feel of southern racial politics. Racism was still very strong even some 20 years after the civil war (Ponick 2011). Hollywood and John Grisham wanted to make bold statement about racism and they accomplished this in the closing argument of the courtroom scene. The setting for this film and the particular scene is vital to bringing the story into focus. The story is of a black man who is fighting for his own life and not going to prison for…show more content…

In this scene the performance of Carl Lee (Samuel L. Jackson), Omar Noose (Patrick McGoohan), and Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) are outstanding. The cinematographers’ (Peter Menzies Jr.) use of lighting, filters, and choices of lens made all these actors standout. Menzies was able to bring the jury, Carl Lee Hailey, Jake Brigance, Omar Noose, and all other spectators in the courtroom, come into focus at specific times, to show the emotions tearing through the courtroom. Depth of focus allows us to see specific expressions during the closing argument. This builds a more dramatic scene for the viewer. Graphics and fast-lambent cinematography at the beginning of the film; the scene then going into the rape of Tonya Hailey, is for the purpose of getting the hearts of the audience to sympathize with the victim. This film immerses itself into emotions which stem from the hatred felt toward the blacks in the south. The rape of 10 year old Tonya Hailey epitomizes this hatred. The casts’ realization of this hatred flows in each of the characters during the filming of this movie, creating a more convincing storyline about racial injustice. It is possible to say that the race issue in “A Time to Kill” maybe legitimate exploration of black/white tension (Berardinelli 1996). It’s also possible to question how much is sensationalism (Berardinelli 1996). In many courtroom drams there is much that is typically grandstanding

John Grisham points out throughout the story to a very important issue, racism. Rednecks hated the blacks, and the blacks shared the same feeling toward the rednecks. This created a problem in the jury and the case overall. Each lawyer wanted a jury of either blacks or whites (Jake wanting the black jurors), although the jury should be selected depending on trustworthy people who are known to judge rightly without racism. This proves that racism is everywhere and draws attention to the need to unite and care about the real issue and the people who were involved and harmed rather than their color or race. The racism got so bad that close to the story's end, many people were killed because they supported a certain group and a big fight occurred between the blacks and the Ku Klux Klan.

A minor but very important theme is building up the character. Jake, in the beginning of the story, was a simple lawyer who did not earn much, and did not realize his strength in law until dangerous rape case came to him. As the story develops, Jake builds up his character, builds his confidence self-esteem, and masters the art of advocating. By the end of the story, Jake's character is different from the beginning, especially that he won the biggest case Memphis has ever had in its history.

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