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A Time to Kill Movie Analysis
Tradition is a priceless component to any culture, as it has been shaped and developed by time itself. Tradition passes from generation to generation, exercising its influence through the actions and thoughts of a people. The tradition that has materialized from the history of the American South is no different. It remains a pillar of hope, faith, and pride for those southerners who embrace it. Tradition of the South dictates a way life with roots in the very foundation of the United States. While this may act as a testament to the strength and courage of the people of the south, the fact remains that the principles laid down by this tradition defy civil rights and respect for humanity. In this sense, the old ways of the South do not compliment the rapid changes that occur in society each day. At heart, this realization is the overall theme of "A Time To Kill". The convictions of the South are detrimental to the civility of the human race and yet, remain unchanged after 150 years because they rise from the tradition of the Southern culture. The realization listed above haunts each of the principal characters in "A Time To Kill" as the story of racial injustice unfolds. Centered around the brutal rape and assault of a young black girl, Tanya Hailey, "A Time To Kill" immerses itself into the intense emotions that are involved in hatred. The rape, committed by two white men, epitomizes this blind hatred that stems from the racism of the South. Influenced by the pain of his loss, Tanya's father, Carl Lee Hailey, lashes out in a passionate state of retribution, slaying both assailants. Charged with two counts of murder in the first degree, Carl Lee is trapped in a judicial system that is greatly swayed by the racism of the world beyond. He is assigned the young and idealistic Jake Brigance, as lead council, one of the few white southerners who believes that he is still able to receive a fair trial. The incident becomes a platform for social outcry, as white and black, poor and privileged take a stand for what they believe in. The emotional tension and social distress heightens as Ellen Roark, an energetic Boston law student, comes to Jake's assistance. They seem to be a very lost few among the surrounding hatred of the South. As trial proceeds, it tears the community apart with controversy, and takes its toll on the lives of all those involved. The most significant relationship in this twisted story is that of Jake and Carl Lee, for they are forced to find a way to transcend their fundamental differences and work together for the same cause, equal justice. Somehow, this justice is found, as an obviously partial jury searches deep within to produce a compassionate verdict of "not guilty". "A Time To Kill" was both dramatic and accurate in its depiction of a small southern community. Prevalent throughout "A Time To Kill" is the presence of the Ku Klux Klan, both as an antagonistic force and as the embodiment of blind hatred that existed in the form of racism in Mississippi at the time. This modern presence has been the root of many crimes of hatred and racism. Conversely, the NAACP's presence in opposition to the Ku Klux Klan is significant, yet its true nature and power was not shown; rather the movie focuses on the interracial relationship and its impact in a southern society, in which equality is undefined. It is evident that the producers of this movie truly understand the mechanics of modern society in this respect. Finally, "A Time To Kill", faces segregation head on, displaying its psychological effects on a society of the south, and its judicial system. Today, nearly 40 years after the civil rights movement made the first steps towards racial equality, segregation remains a part of humanity that we must all face. "A Time To Kill" speaks to all people, versed and unversed in the hatred of racism. Above all, it calls the individual to examine their convictions, and then ask themself if they have sought the just principles for life. Jake Brigance eloquently calls the jury to imagine the acts brought upon Tanya in these final words, "Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body, soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she's white." This movies serves as a reminder that in governing our country, and ultimately in living our lives, we must look past race, color and creed, and seek equality in its purest forms. If this cannot be done in the present, it cannot be a hope for the future. Sources Cited: {Source 1} Newton, Michael, And Judy Ann Newton. The Ku Klux Klan: An Encyclopedia. Garland, 1991. {Source 2} Harris, Jacqueline L. History And Achievement Of The NAACP. Franklin Watts, 1992. {Source 3} Haskins, James S. Separate But Not Equal: The Dream and the Struggle. Scholastic, 1997. {Source 4} A Time To Kill. Dir. Joel Schumacher. Perf. Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey. Warner Brothers. 1996.

 



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