The movie took place in the deep South in the 1940s or 1950s. The gist of the story was one young black man shown running from a hateful white farmer driving a tractor. The white man had apparently previously beaten the black man and wanted to “finish him off.” The white man followed the black man to the home of an older black, portrayed by Lou Gossett, Jr. Well as the pursuer was about to corner and apparently shot the pursued, Lou Gossett’s character shot the young white farmer.
What ensued following the shooting was the benevolent female owner (played by Holly Hunter) of the property (former plantation) encouragement of many of the black men on or near her estate to gather at the home of the slaying. She, herself, was going to tell Sheriff Mapes that she killed the belligerent white man. As the dozen and a half old black men gathered, they all were prepared to say that they were the killers. Oh, by the way, they all were instructed to bring shotguns and where encouraged to have fired them before they arrived. This would essentially protect the shooter.
The real point of the movie was that the formerly conforming lot now was willing to take a stand, together. They were united in their opposition to the forces of evil so prevalent in the society of that day. They stood their ground, no matter what the consequences. They were sick and tired of being treated as less than fully human.
LESSON FOR TODAY
In many ways the 18 old black men reminded me of the average American. We have been silent, compliant, conforming for far too long. All around the evil government was growing bolder and making more demands through committing taxpayer funding to every whim or fancy of the big-government agenda. We are becoming slaves, and the government bureaucrats are the plantation owners and masters. We are loosing our freedoms. This has been occurring ever since Ronal Reagan left office . . . under both Republican and Democratic Administrations.
I rate this movie a **** ½ out of ***** for its clear moral message and guiding principles, its great acting and photograpy. Above all, it is relevant in early 21st Century America just as much (or moreso) at it was in the early 20 century South. The movie is well worth the time you may have to look for it and well worth the cost to rent or to buy it.