‘Till’ Movie

On August 24, 1955, Emmett Till, a 14 year-old black boy, went to a convenience store in Mississippi with his cousin to purchase a few snacks. While he was there, he had an encounter with a white woman who later claimed that he had made lewd advances towards her. Upon hearing the news a few days later, her husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, took it upon themselves to go to Till’s uncle’s house and force Emmett into their car. It was not until a few days later that his body was found beaten so badly it was hardly recognizable. At his funeral, his mother requested an open casket so everyone could see what those men did to her child. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were never convicted for their crime and it was later confirmed by Carol Bryant in 2007 that she had spread false accusations against Till. The importance of his story has had a big impact on U.S. history, so much so, that years later it is still discussed. In fact, on October 14, 2022, the movie Till was released in theaters. However, unlike many things made about Emmett Till, this story does not focus on him but rather on his mother, Mamie-Till-Mobley, and her relentless pursuit of justice for her son. 

The movie, directed by Chinonye Chukwu and based on a screenplay that she co-wrote with Michael Reilly and Keith Beauchamp, portrays the true tale of Emmett Till beautifully. Till tells a compelling tale with elegance and grace. This movie’s cinematography was expertly done, especially at the end when a scene becomes bright and joyful, in an effort to counterbalance the overall darkness that dominates the majority of the film. Although the movie doesn’t shy away from the racial violence that took place at that time, it addresses the subject sensitively and with respect. In the film, viewers aren’t shown much of Mamie and Emmett’s life before Emmett goes down to Mississippi, but the movie does show the events that take place while Emmett is in Mississippi, as well as Mamie Till’s actions after she found out what happened. Choosing to avoid showing the murder of Emmett Till itself, Chukwu decides to center the film around Emmet’s mother and her journey as a civil rights activist. This decision helps elevate the story by giving viewers a different perspective. Unlike many things made about his story, this doesn’t just show the hardships of being black but also the hardships of being a mother. Viewers watch as Mamie Till, played by Danielle Deadwyler, experiences pain, bravery, and perseverance. Each word Mamie Till speaks is filled with such raw emotion that it leaves viewers captivated. When she gives speeches, her words leave a lasting impression. However, despite her valiant efforts, both of Emmett Till’s killers won the lawsuit against them and were never punished for their crimes, despite confessing less than a year later. Mamie Till did not let this stop her, she made sure to continue fighting saying that “If this country fails to protect the black body from hate then America has failed to meet its promise.”

So, despite not winning the case and despite not getting the justice her son deserved, Mamie Till “dedicated her life to educating children and helped galvanize a movement that led to the passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act.” (Till [Film]). Overall, Till was a heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, and emotional movie that did a fantastic job of shedding light on a tragic story. Be sure to watch Till whenever you can because the performances, the scenery, and the story itself will undoubtedly make you cry—I know it did for me.

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