10 Movie Biopics That Were Far Too Easy On Their Subjects

9. Mississippi Burning

A Beautiful Mind Russell Crowe
Orion Pictures

If you ever needed to ask, this is what "whitewashing" America looks like, and Mississippi Burning is one film that, appropriately, will be left on its ash heaps. The film's blatant rewriting of history is bad enough, but director Alan Parker's back-patting during press junkets is outright shameful.

For those who probably are about to see this referenced in more textbooks, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were three civil rights workers promoting Freedom Summer in 1964. Driving through Philadelphia, Mississippi, they were pulled over by members of the Ku Klux Klan, some in local law enforcement, and shot dead. Their bodies were found buried near a dam 44 days later when the FBI came to investigate their disappearance and an unidentified informant told them where to look.

The film opened wide in 1988, and Orion was fairly confident they had an Oscar contender on their hands. None other than Senator Ted Kennedy championed it.

Martin Luther King's widow and the families of those killed, on the other hand, didn't appreciate the numerous artistic licenses the script took. Parker likened it to Apocalypse Now; it was only fiction in the sense that it was true in spirit.

But spirit wasn't enough for those that actually suffered through the events. The late Shwerner's brother called it "terribly dishonest and horribly racist". The consensus was that using the White Saviour Model to discuss civil rights was automatically doing an injustice to fact. Parker never relented, shamelessly profiting.


Kenny Hedges is carbon-based. So I suppose a simple top 5 in no order will do: Halloween, Crimes and Misdemeanors, L.A. Confidential, Billy Liar, Blow Out He has his own website - thefilmreal.com - and is always looking for new writers with differing views to broaden the discussion.