With a real-life history lesson like the movie “Till”, you realize that if someone would tell anyone the details of what happened to a young boy – without telling you the country or the year you would think about Ancient Egypt, Roman Times, Nazi Germany, Japan during World War 2 or even the Stalin Regime. You would never think something like this could happen to a very likable and happy 14-year-old black boy from Chicago who traveled to Mississippi to visit his relatives in August 1955. This is the United States, we are supposed to be the good guys, never a country that would be this cruel to a young child who did nothing more than whistle at a white woman at the exact wrong place at the exact wrong time.
The movie Till was produced by Whoppie Goldberg who spent over 10 years trying to get this important moment in American History turned into a movie. For a story this significant, that started the Civil Rights movement in 1957, this should have been a film produced 30-40 years ago. Why it took this long could have more to do with the shame that this incident represents to this country, more than any other reason.
There are several moments in this well-made film that stand out. The innocence of this 14-year old very happy young man, Emmett Till, who because of his youth, and his life in Chicago could never have imagined just whistling at a white woman could get him tortured, shot to death and dropped into a river. In fact, it was Emmett’s happy naive innocence that is the main reason he was murdered by two white men in the deep south in 1955. The moment during the trial where the white woman who was whistled at – blatantly lied under oath about what Emmett Till did, during her testimony. This woman was never tried for her crimes and is also equally responsible for Till’s murder. The two animals who killed this young man were found innocent in a one-hour deliberation and then later were paid 4000 dollars by Look magazine and admitted murdering Emmett Till. Emmett Till’s mother insisted on an open casket showing the beaten, shot in the head, and water-bloated body of her only child. She wanted to show the world what racial bigotry did to her son.
This movie should be nominated for an Academy Award for best picture and the actress who plays Emmit Tills mother, Danielle Deadwyler, should be nominated for best actress. The young actor who played Emmett Till, Jalyn Hall, was equally outstanding in his role. The emotions in this movie, especially when showing the extreme grief of Till’s mother and other relatives when seeing him in the open casket are as extremely well acted as they are hard to watch.
The movie Till is about one of the saddest moments in American History and is a must-see film. The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are an accurate 98% and receives my highest recommendation.