The Murder of Emmett Till


Bottom 40% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2003 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Stanley Nelson, Marcia Smith, Robert Shepard, Lewis Erskine, Tom Phillips


Put into a historical context, the horrific murder of young Emmett Till can be viewed as a precursor to the civil rights movement, Stanly Nelson's top-notch new film examines the climate surrounding the tragic incident that took place in the summer of 1955 in the Mississippi Delta. The film's inclusion of Emmett Till's mother, Mamie, and other key witnesses provides immediate, harrowing insight into the events surrounding the injustice.

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African American boy from Chicago visiting relatives that fateful August. A few days after he supposedly whistled at a white store owner's wife, he disappeared in the night. His body was soon found floating in a nearby river, and the store owner and another man were arrested for the brutal murder. At the trial, an all white jury acquitted the men despite eyewitness testimony that implicated them., The case proved again that an African American man's life in the rural South was completely expendable.

When the Mamie Till decided to put her son's mutilated boy on display, thousands of people came to see it. The world became witness what had happened, and the story captured the attention of nation. The revealing portrait of an unjust society is not to be missed.


Lisa Viola (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.