This film recounts the people and events leading up to the one of the most despicable hate-crimes during the height of the civil-rights movement, the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama. In that attack, four little African-American girls lost their lives and a nation was simultaneously revolted, angered and galvanized to push the fight for equality and justice on. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Was inducted into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry on December 13, 2017, the day after Doug Jones, the US Attorney who prosecuted the trial, was elected to the Senate. See more »
I used to be afraid of Bull... until I discovered he was crazy. When I discovered he was crazy my whole attitude changed. Al Hilber was at a Trailways bus depot on the corner. Ah, they were gonna' put us in the paddy wagon and take us to jail. Al Hilber was standing next to the building like this. Bull looked over at us and said, "... hey, go over and get that blind nigga' and bring him over here.
. This man was insane. He's hollering across the street, "... bring that blind...
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Lee's film does an excellent job of bringing the girls to life. It is very easy to lump the four girls together into one entity, as the "Eyes on the Prize" documentary did, but Spike Lee was able to set them apart as individuals and shows the grief felt by the friends and relatives to this day. However, the documentary seems to tell only about two-thirds of the story. Some of the nitty-gritty details about the bombing and the investigation are quickly summarized in order to bring the film to a quick conclusion. If I didn't know from other sources, I would not have known, for example, the nature of the bomb -- was it set by a timer? Thrown into the church? (I know from news accounts that it was the latter, but you would not have known if you were uninitiated and just learning through this documentary.) There are also questions that come to mind that Lee leaves unanswered: What was the reaction of the white community in the area (I know, for example, that the bombing was certainly not unanimously cheered by the white south)? How was the bombing investigated? What eventually led the investigators to the guilty parties? The story of the 15 year search for the bomber and his accomplices (in fact, the search went on longer than that, even into the year 2001) is an important part of the story. A film as powerful as this should have taken the time to go into every nook and cranny of the story. Yes, it was excellent. Yes, it should have won the Documentary award for that year. Yes, it brought a tear to my eye. But there could have been so much more, and could have made the story that much more powerful.
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