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The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till

4.6 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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(Feb 28, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In August 1955, Mamie Till-Mobley of Chicago sent her only child, 14 year-old Emmett Louis Till, to visit relatives in the Mississippi Delta. Little did she know that only 8 days later, Emmett would be abducted from his Great-Uncle's home, brutally beaten and murdered for one of the oldest Southern taboos: whistling at a white woman in public. The murderers were soon arrested but later acquitted of murder by an all-white, all-male jury. Keith Beauchamp's groundbreaking film is the result of a 10-year journey to uncover the truth behind the nightmarish murder of an innocent African-American teenager. Emmett's brutal murder - and his family's brave actions in the horrifying aftermath - served as a major impetus for America's civil rights movement and led to Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to make decisions that changed the course of history.

Simple yet riveting, The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till articulates the madness of racism in the South of the 1950s. Combining archival photos and footage with deeply felt interviews, this documentary tells the harrowing story of what happened when a mischievous 14 year old black boy from Chicago, visiting his relatives in Mississippi, whistled at a white woman in the street. The lynching that followed was so gruesome that a media circus surrounded the trial--and what stunned the nation was not only the crime, but the blithe unconcern the citizens of a small Mississippi town felt toward the brutal murder of a black teenager. The interviews suspensefully unveil the story, moving from the viewpoint of Till's mother to the perspective of his Southern cousins to actual film of Till's uncle, who had the astonishing courage to accuse the two killers in court. Till's mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, addressed the entire country in news footage, begging that something be done so that her son did not die in vain. The awkward, un-media-savvy quality of the 1950s interviews may seem to come from another world, but the harsh truth of what happened sprang all too clearly from America's still unresolved racial conflicts. A passionate, compelling documentary. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Commentary by Director Keith Beauchamp
  • The featurette The Impact of the Emmett Till Case in American History and Today from the Civil Rights Project of Harvard University
  • Trailers

Product Details

  • Directors: Keith A. Beauchamp
  • Format: Black & White, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Velocity / Thinkfilm
  • DVD Release Date: February 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 70 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000DZ95MQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,150 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 3, 2006
Format: DVD
It was in August of 1955 that 15-year-old Emmett Till was sent from Chicago by his mother to spend the summer with his great uncle, Moses Wright, in Money, Mississippi. On August 24, Till and some other black teenagers who had been picking cotton went to Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market to get some candy. In the store Till allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant. When her husband returned from a trip several days later and heard about the incident, Bryant and his half-brother J. W. Milam decided to "teach the boy a lesson." On August 28, they kidnapped Till from his uncle's house, too him to a plantation shed, brutalized the boy, shot him, and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie river, having tied a seventy pound fan from a cotton gin around Till's neck with barbed wire. The two men were tried and found not guilty by an all-white jury. In January 1956 their confession was paid for and published by "Look" magazine. Both men would die from cancer, Milam in 1980 and Bryant in 1990.

I do not remember when I first heard of Emmett Till, but the story of the black teenager who was killed by white men in Mississippi for the crime of whistling at a white woman was a pivotal event in energizing the Civil Rights Movement and I have known about it for a long time. However, I never saw a photograph of Emmett Till's body until I was at the Seattle Art Museum looking at an exhibit having to deal with depictions of race and gender in art, and there was a small photograph of Till's body on display at his funeral. The photograph was too small to tell any details, but you were struck by the swollen and misshaped head. It did not look human, but then to Milam and Bryant, Emmett Till was never a human being.

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This Documentary was well done, based on the 1955 brutal lynching of 14 year old Emmett Louis Till, an African American teenager just trying to have a good time with his family and friends. Until he whistled at a white woman, Carolyn, wife of Roy Bryant, Sister-n-Law of J. W. Milam. These 2 men were accused and aquitted of the heinous crimes that took Emmett Till's young life. This is true crime and is well worth the money, watching this film has made me cry for the family of Emmett, it was devastating to watch how the Mississippi court system back in 1955 let 2 animals go after admitting they kidnapped and murdered someone. How gruesome. Emmett Louis Till deserved what any other person deserved, to live and love, instead his life was cut short. This is very painful to watch. Emmett's Mother, Mrs. Mobley, was such an inspiration, her words touched me, she was a wonderful woman.

This is a must-see film, it is always a good idea to see history so we do not forget what "civilized" man is capable of. This unfortunate young man's death sparked the Civil Rights Movement. It hurts me to know what others can do to each other. See this film for yourself. Thank you.
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Format: DVD
If you think you know everything about the Emmett Louis Till case, think again. Young film maker Keith A. Beauchamp spent years conducting interviews and doing research in support of his documentary film The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till. As you may know, Emmett was a young boy from Chicago who went down south to Mississippi to visit relatives. During his visit he whistled at a white woman outside of a store and days later he was brutally beaten and murdered. Emmett's murder caused a huge shift in the struggle for civil rights. His case also African Americans to protest and strike out against lynchings.

The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till is the best documentary every produced about the Emmett Till case. What makes this documentary unique is the first person interviews Beauchamp scored for the film. These never before seen interviews in conjunction with archive footage paint a picture of the events surrounding Till's murder and the case afterwards that has never been seen. The interviews with Mamie Till-Mobley are excellent. She remembers with so much detail the events leading up to Emmett's murder and the struggle that she went through after the muder and during the trial. The film also includes interview footage of the brother of Medgar Evars, Emmett's cousins, Reverend Al Sharpton and more. It's a great film and it's captivating. The DVD includes a directors commentary and a featurette titled "The Impact of the Emmett Till Case in American History and Today." This film is so special it should be used in ever Black American Studies program and every African-American family should own a copy of this film. Many people feel like lynching and racism are far in the past, but watching this film will make people realize that what happened 51 years ago is an important part of not only African-American history but American history.
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For the August of 1955, Mamie Till-Mobley of Chicago sent her son Emmett Louis Till to the Mississippi Delta to visit friends and family. Eight days after his arrival, Emmett was abducted from his Great Uncle's home by a group of white men for allegedly whistling at a white woman at a convenience store. Emmett was brutally beaten and murdered, the violent act epitomizing the virulent racism of the time. When two of the men involved were put to trial, the all-white jury acquitted them in less than an hour. Outraging many of the leaders in the black community, the murder and subsequent trial served as the catalyst for the entire American civil rights movement. The symbol of this act is the mangled face of Till, shown by the mother at his open-casket funeral. While her decision was controversial, her reason was simple: "I want the world to see what they did to my son.".

I have had the great pleasure of hearing Mr. Beauchamp speak about his documentary, and I can truly say that he put a great deal of work and effort into it. The documentary is not told with narration, as instead Mr. Beauchamp uses interviews with eyewitnesses, family members, and historians to tell the story. The documentary provides a concise view of the murder with the first-hand accounts, and while it does not bombard the viewer with biases or Mr. Beauchamp's personal views, it does evoke a clear message about racism back then as well as today, due to the lessons that can be learned. Mr. Beauchamp's thoughtful documentary serves as a brilliant reminder of the consequences that feelings of racism and hate can bring.
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