29 Days Of Black History – Day 10: Mudbound

Release Date:   1/21/17 – Sundance Film Festival; 11/17/17 – Netflix
Genre:   Drama
Rating:  R
Director:  Dee Rees
Studio(s):   Armory Films, ArtImage Entertainment, Black Bear Pictures, Elevated Films (II), MACRO, MMC Joule Films, Zeal Media, Netflix.
Running Time:  134 mins.

Cast:  Jason Mitchell as Ronsel Jackson, Mary J. Blige as Florence Jackson, Jason Clarke as Henry McAllan, Rob Morgan as Hap Jackson, Carey Mulligan as Laura McAllan, Garrett Hedlund as Jamie McAllan, Jonathan Banks as Pappy McAllan, Frankie Smith as Marlon Jackson, Kennedy Derosin as Lilly May Jackson, Elizabeth Windley as Amanda Leigh McAllan, Piper Blaire as Isabelle McAllan, Jason Kirkpatrick as Orris Stokes, Kerry Cahill as Rose Tricklebank, Oyeleke Oluwafolakanmi as Cleve, Kelvin Harrison, Jr. as Weeks, Lucy Faust as Vera Atwood, Dylan Arnold as Carl Atwood, Samantha Höefer as Resl, Geraldine Singer as Mrs. Chappell, Henry Frost as Teddy Chappell., Claudio Laniado as Dr. Pearlman, Charley Vance as Sheriff Thacker.

Details:  Based on the novel of the same name by Hillary Jordan, the film depicts the story of two men, one black, the other white, who return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.

Story:   During a rain storm in Mississippi delta farm country, foolish and heartless Henry McAllan and his younger brother Jamie struggle to lower their deceased Pappy’s coffin into the grave they’d just dug.  The Jacksons, a black share-cropper family they know, are passing by in a wagon.  Henry asks the father, Hap, for help but seems uncomfortably asking while Hap hesitates to reply.

Flash back to 1939, Henry buys a farm outside the fictional town of Marietta, Mississippi and moves there with his wife Laura, their daughters and his racist father, Pappy.  The Jackson family, led by tenant farmer Hap and his wife Florence, work the farm’s cotton field and dream of owning their own land one day.

As World War II begins, Jamie and the Jacksons’ eldest son, Ronsel, join the military and both experience severe combat trauma.  When the war ends, Ronsel and Jamie return home. They’ve changed, but the local society hasn’t. Both men suffer from PTSD while Jamie becomes an alcoholic, Ronsel who appreciated the relative lack of racism in Europe struggles with racism back home. They become aware of one anothers’ difficulties, and bond over them.

Later, Ronsel receives a letter telling him that a German woman with whom he’d been romantically involved during the war has a child and wants him to join them. Pappy finds the letter and rounds up several Ku Klux Klan pals, who find Ronsel, beat him, and prepare to lynch him.  Pappy who disapproves of Jamie’s friendship with Ronsel, brings Jamie to the lynching site, where Jamie iss beaten and tied up. Pappy and the Kluxers tell Jamie to choose Ronsel’s punishment for his “crime” — to lose his eyes, tongue or testicles — and if refuses to choose he must watch Ronsel be put to death. Jamie chooses tongue and Ronsel’s tongue is cut out. Later that night, Jamie smothers Pappy to death.

The film returns to the opening scene. Hap helps with the coffin and after the coffin is lowered we Hap says a prayer over the grave, reciting from the Book of Job, verses 14:2-12 in criticism of Pappy. Before the wagon pulls away, Jamie gives the German woman’s envelope to Ronsel’s mother, and asks that she give it to Ronsel.

The Jacksons have their meager belongings in the wagon because they are leaving. Jamie moves to Los Angeles and Ronsel makes his way back to Europe where he reunites with the German woman, and their son.  Source:  IMDB; Wikipedia.


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