49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Powerful Movie
Rosewood shows what happens when hatred runs unchecked, and how one lie, combined with hate, envy, and racial enmity, led to the destruction of an African American township in Florida. As powerful as the movie is, the true story of Rosewood was probably even worse, given that the level torture, mutilation, and brutality inflicted on the Black residents of the town could...
Published on October 30, 2000 by Deone Wilhite
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat flawed, read the book first
Shrtly before this film came out, I wrote an article on the actual Rosewood and Tulsa massacres. The film shows the destruction as being far worse than what it actually was and that business about John Voights affair with Miss Bousia and the character of "Mr. Man" never happened. This was dramatic license. However, if you want the real facts about the Rosewood...
Published on November 19, 2001 by Andre M.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Powerful Movie,
Rosewood shows what happens when hatred runs unchecked, and how one lie, combined with hate, envy, and racial enmity, led to the destruction of an African American township in Florida. As powerful as the movie is, the true story of Rosewood was probably even worse, given that the level torture, mutilation, and brutality inflicted on the Black residents of the town could never be properly put on-screen and released by a Hollywood studio. The ratings system wouldn't allow it, and movie theaters don't want their patrons to get sick and leave the theater.
If there was any "silver lining" in this movie version of a horrid episode in American history, it is that Rosewood did an admirable job of reflecting what true mature manhood is all about. True manhood in the movie is shown when men (Don Cheadle & Ving Rimes) provide for, serve, and protect their families and communities from outside forces of evil that seek to destroy them. Don Cheadle's character was willing to give his life so his wife and family could escape from the lynch mob, and Mr. Mann was willing to sacrifice himself to get women, children, and elders to safety. True manhood is exhibited when Mr. Mann takes a frightened young boy, gives him responsibility, and turns him into a leader. True manhood also involves chosing to do the right thing despite your own personal prejudices and societal/peer pressure, as reflected by Jon Voight's character, and even in the brief scene of a lawman and his posse who turn back the lynch mob at the county line. False manhood is reflected by the ringleader of the lynch mob, who tried to teach his son that manhood was composed learning how to torture, shoot, and kill other humans beings like animals, as well as drinking and acting like a fool. Ultimately, his son rejected that version of manhood. Manhood may not be a popular topic in our politically correct times, but it was good to see a movie showing men exhibiting mature manhood by standing up to tyranny and evil and doing the right thing for their families and communities.
Rosewood is a powerful movie that angers and saddens you when you realize the events depicted on screen actually occured (and were far worse), but also encourages you when you see how a people can survive in the midst of murderous chaos when men stand up and be men.
To see the actual results of racially-inspired lynchings, torture, and murder, take a look at the lynching photography book "Without Sanctuary", or read "Rituals of Blood" by Orlando Patterson. The scenes in "Rosewood" will pale by comparison.
66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An all too often forgotten part of our history.,
It could be argued that some of the black characters are far from above reproach. Esther Rolle's decision not to report the incident, Ving Rhames' (and others) desire to initially run from the conflict, or you could look at the promiscuity of Don Cheadle's sister's character who has an adulterous affair with Jon Voight. Superficially these may appear to be character flaws. That is unless you account for the reality of pervasive racism that exists in America (forget about just the South) by both the general populous and public officials in particular. The harsh truth is that black people didn't have the luxury to be (much) less than virtuous as it could too often result in imprisonment, financial ruin, beatings or lynchings. And even with all of the so called virtue exhibited by the black characters an accusation by a white woman was accepted even in lieu of truths known by other white characters. If that could happen to characters who were above reproach I hate to imagine what would have happened to less virtuous characters. If they were virtuous it's only because their very survival depended on it. This theme has repeated itself all too often and all too recently for a thinking individual to believe that these types of incidents couldn't happen today.
The most deplorable fact is how long it took for the government to even acknowledge the horror and injustice of this and other events such as the destruction of Black Wall Street in Kansas City. That is another element of why blacks so often had to conduct themselves in a seemingly reproachless manner.
And Mr. Singleton need not be criticized for the 'stereotypical' portrayals of southern racists. It was and is accurate. Just as it's accurate to demonstrate that there were and are whites who were fair minded and exhibited tremendous bravery of their own account.
There is nothing 'happy' about this movie at all. Look at the countless number of lives that were either ruined or ended because of our collective disease. The final conflict underscores the real tragedy that racism is. It destroys the lives and humanity of all it's participant's be they perpetrators or victims. How many children lost their parents? How many individuals lost their livelihood or savings? How many families were destroyed?
That notwithstanding it is a monumental achievment for Mr. Singleton if not necessarily a cinematic masterpiece. But who ever said that history has to be exiciting or uplifting? It's just what is. For that Mr. Singleton deserves the highest commendation just to get a film of this nature made let alone telling a too often suppressed and ignored part of our history. For that I give it 5 stars. However, there are many nuances to the film which I personally only recognized after multiple viewings. It's an experience that should be viewed, discussed and reflected upon. That's certainly something I can't say about much of what's coming out of Hollywood today.
What I wonder about is how many actual Rosewood's have occured that have never been recorded or recognized.
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellant movie about what happened in Rosewood,
I first watched this movie on HBO, after viewing it with my wife we decided to rent it so our children could see what realy happened in Rosewood and learn about history, we are a white family and I feel it is important for my children to learn what realy happened there. After watching the movie we took a ride to the site that was once Rosewood, the only remaining structure is mr. Wrights house, the town is gone, we walked through the area that was once Rosewood and tried to imagine it as it was in the movie, we then went to Sumner and saw the site that was once the mill,we found some relics there, along with some buildings that had housed the residents of Sumner who worked in the mill, we then visited Mr. Wrights grave in Sumner, all in all the movie was great as it taught my family and myself about the history of the town and how horrible racism was back then.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SAD CHAPTER IN AMERICAN HISTORY,
Based on actual events, Rosewood relates the events that led to as many as 150 African Americans being murdered and burned out of their homes in Rosewood, Florida in 1923, by whites from a neighboring town. All this happens because a white woman falsely accused a black man of raping her.
Truly a horrific tale, all the more so because it happened, although an accurate death count has never been determined. This sad account went unknown for many years due to a cover up as well as resident's refusal to talk abou the events. Director John Singleton probably takes a worst case scenario view of the body count and pure horror with burning bodies being hung by the neck and other such gruesome crimes.
Caught up in this chaotic story is Ving Rhames playing Mann, a former soldier who was merely passing through town and ends up having to fight for his life as well as heroically saving a number of children from the marauding racists. Don Cheadle gives an outstanding performance as a Rosewood resident who proves smarter than the rednecks.
Jon Voight plays a local business owner who is sympathetic to the blacks and for that is labeld a "_____" lover by the other whites. But Voight doesn't care and actually provides a safe harbor to several blacks after the attack begins.
Michael Rooker, who also played in Mississippi Burning gives a fine performance as sheriff Walker who while racist himself, finally realizes that the accusations were false but by then is unable to stop the mayhem. Bruce McGill is the typical, fat, white redneck as Duke Purdy.
The film is beautifully shot and John Jenson deserves a big tip of the hat for his cinematography as he captured the small-town, ramshackle look of 1920's Florida that greatly lent to the film's look of authenticity. Very powerful film. So sad yet an important film for people to watch, especially our young people as incidents like this should never be forgotten.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Unfortunate History,
"Rosewood", starring Jon Voight and Ving Rhames, is a gripping true story about an all African-American town that was burned by an all white lynch mob in 1923, which killed many. Its powerful message sends an eyeopening attack in audiences' hearts. The filmmakers deserve tremendous respect for deeply exploring these chain of events to such levels. This was highly necessary for people to understand the impact of violence and racism. The intensity is so groundbreaking that it forces audiences inside the movie. Their research is highly obvious, making it very educational. The movie plot is brilliant, keeping the heart and soul alive in every scene:
A small town, Rosewood, is usually a peaceful, loving town. In New Years Eve 1922, everything functioned as usual. Around that time, a woman from a nearby town, Sumner, falsely accuses a black person of raping and assaulting her (it was actually a white man, but there was no rape). Once word is out, all hell breaks loose.
The recreation of the town is perfect. Every detail is flawless, including the styles of the early 1920's. Every building structure and creation is flawless. The costume designs are as flawless, looking like actual 1920's clothing.
The acting was intensely great. Everyone offers their own heart and soul sense into this movie, making it more powerful. Jon Voight and Ving Rhames capitalize the acting talents. This is Rhames's best role in years. His tough warrior image never fades for a second, which is very convincing. His presentd talents were wrongfully overlooked in the 1997 Acadamy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Jon Voight's role as a man who comes to terms of what a true ally is. His heartdrenching role forces audiences to feel his character's learning progress and emotions.
"Rosewood" is a great movie for those looking for an factual intense drama. This will surely educate audiences about reality. This movie will become a classic in the near following years as it deserves.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of the most important movies of the 90's,
By A Customer
I saw rosewood in its run in theaters and was astounded by how good it was, and how little it did at the box office. Rosewood is not a happy movie, but should be required viewing no matter what color you are. It tells the story of a black town in Florida that was burned to the ground in 1923 all because of a "white" lie. The movie was hard to watch for me for the simple reason that it still shocks me to see that human beings could have so much hate for someone different. The acting is First rate, especially by Ving Rhames and Don Cheadle who both deserved oscar nominations. Why this movie was overlooked by the Oscars and audiences alike astounds me. If you are looking for an intellegent often troubling but at the same time uplifting drama with first rate acting and directing please rent Rosewood and give it the credit it deserved when it was out in theaters.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat flawed, read the book first,
Shrtly before this film came out, I wrote an article on the actual Rosewood and Tulsa massacres. The film shows the destruction as being far worse than what it actually was and that business about John Voights affair with Miss Bousia and the character of "Mr. Man" never happened. This was dramatic license. However, if you want the real facts about the Rosewood Massacre, read Michael D'Orso's "Like Judgement Day" upon which this movie is based.
One of the other reviewers asked how many other Rosewoods were there. The answer was THOUSANDS between the 1860s and 1960s. Read Ralph Ginzburg's "100 Years of Lynchings" for similar stories in other cities and towns. Also read Scott Ellsworth's "Death in a Promised Land" about the Tusla Massacre of 1921, which has yet to be filmed about aside from scant mention in some documentaries.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Filmmaking, Sadly Overlooked,
This tale of a Florida Black town and racism and hatred gone unchecked is one of the most powerful, emotional films I have ever seen. You won't hear about this tragic event in public school, that's for certain. A certifiable massacre, brought about by a WHITE woman's infidelities, this movie still resounds in my head after only one viewing. Ving Rhames as the heroic "Mr. Man" helps save some of Rosewood's citizens from slaughter, but he can't prevent the horror the white mob brings to the town. A haunting example of ignorance unchecked, it's hard to decide whether this is a drama or a horror film. Jon Voight's portrayal of the reluctant shopkeeper is stellar, and the entire cast is wonderful. John Singleton makes great movies that sadly get overlooked. This movie should be known everywhere for it's unflinching depiction of a terrible stain on America's history. A film that would be dangerous to forget.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scary Potrayal,
A very scary potrayal when ignorant people are given even a little bit of power. A white woman accuses a black man of raping her an all hell breaks loose. Sane minds are hard to find and a race war breaks out in the rural southlands of Florida.
Whereas many innocent people most African Americans are killed, the touching drama of the story is how a black man and a white man lead a group of displaced black women and children to safety. The scenes to capture the spirit on how African Americans have overcome some much prejudice and hardship.
Its good to see taht our prsent generation has preached toelrace for one's fellow man. Lets hope that this continues an that movies like Rosewood can hopefully continue to educate people into the evils of prejudice.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Latter Day Western (Set In The South-East!),
I loved this movie! It's a historical drama, a social/political film, a character study, an exploration in the worst & best in human behavior, & a downright great action film!
I call this film "A Later Day Western" for several reasons. First, it has a historical setting. (Obviously, however, since it takes place in the '20's & NOT in the West, it can't rightfully be called a "Western", but I'll get to the similarities in a second!) Second, like many great westerns, it examines social problems in a historical setting. Third, though it has "heroes" & "villains", the good-guys aren't all good (Voight has serious character flaws & is gripped by fear, but he ultimately does "the right thing") & the bad-guys have real "human" motivations. (The villain of the story is a dysfunctional, but loving father.) Finally, The Ving Rhames character (admittedly, a fictional character), is a strong-willed, wandering veteran (on horse-back), trying to find peace, but reluctantly forced to make a stand for right.
The story is based loosely on the actual Rosewood Massacres of 1923 & it delivers on all counts.
My personal favorite character is John Voight's young (2nd) wife, who stands up to the bigots & earns the respect of her step-children.
This film, unlike many other films about race-prejudice, is BALANCED, showing not just "bad rednecks", but decent (Caucasian) neighbors of the local African-americans being (unjustly) persecuted for a "rape" of a white woman (which, by the way, never really happened.) This movie reminded me of both "Bad Day At Black Rock" & "To Kill A Mockingbird." Those were two great films & by combining elements from them with a real historical event (tragedy) with a strong cast, good script, & fast-paced direction makes for a great film!
It's too bad that this film wasn't a bigger hit. If you buy this video, you WON'T be wasting your money. It's not just a later-day western, it's a later-day classic.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Rosewood (Two-Sided Disc) by John Singleton (DVD - 2007)