Monday, August 9, 2010
Micki Dickoff and Tony Pagano's NESHOBA: THE PRICE OF FREEDOM opens a dreadful page of U.S. history that is bleeding still
NESHOBA: THE PRICE OF FREEDOM, from filmmakers Micki Dickoff and Tony Pagano, is so gut-wrenchingly sorrowful that it's an oddly mixed blessing when, as the movie prog-
resses, it becomes both easier to take and less effective. This may have more to do with the way in which events have played themselves out over the 46 years since the original murders around which the film is organized than with the skill of the filmmakers themselves. Still, had Dickoff and Pagano been able to maintain the passion and immediacy of their first third, they might have ended up with one of the most powerful, ground-breaking documentaries of modern times. (Or perhaps one so upsetting that viewers would squirm and head for an early exit.)
James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Yes, the three young civil-rights volunteer workers -- Chaney a 21-year-old local Mississippi man, Goodman (20) and Schwerner (24) both from New York -- who were cold-bloodedly murdered (above are shown their discovered remains) by the combined efforts of the local Neshoba County police department, including some lying office workers, and the Ku Klux Klan, who did the actual deed. (This was also the alternately gussied-up and bowdlerized subject of the Hollywood narrative film Mississippi Burning.) As the young men were there to help the voter registration efforts of the local black population, a great hue and cry went up across most of the nation -- less so, of course, in our glorious southern states.
Mikado lyric and the platform for retributive justice, but by the end of this documentary, which begins with the crime and closes with the would-be punishment, it is clear that our nation has barely begun to come to terms with its own history.
First Run Features, opens theatrically this Friday, August 13, at the Cinema Village in New York City. Click the link for all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters.